WAS MICHAEL JACKSON THE BLACK MUSICAL MESSIAH?
(WWETV Network) Worldwide Entertainment TV showcases artists with its “Artist Of The Week” program that presents musicians from regions fromaround of the world. We have been asked to show homage each week by fans to the artists who paved the way, so each Saturday we will provide an old school artist of the week. What better artist to be the first featured legend than Michael Jackson?
The name Michael Jackson evokes different emotions for different people. The accusations laid upon the deceased icon lately has people choosing sides. This article by yours truly Venom will go deeper than the tabloids and analyze why people became obsessed and still are obsessed with the man child who became the top selling artist of all times with the monstrous Thriller album.
I will also explain why his throne and title of “King Of Pop” was well deserved and as all kings he has his detractors. This weekend the estate of Michael Jackson will release two concerts on youtube which seems to try to battle the HBO and Oprah specials concerning Wade Robson and Wayne Safechuck. The special debuts simultaneously on HBO and OWN at 10 p.m. EST on March 4, immediately following the conclusion of part two of “Leaving Neverland,” which will air on March 3rd and 4th on HBO.
On the last day of Black History Month I submitted my article “#BlackHistoryMonth #TBT The Jacksons & Soul Train’s Impact #WorldWide” because I see something startling with the new generation of music fans. The impact of what Michael Jackson and his family did for crossing over traditional black music is getting lost in the shuffle in the social media era. Watching Black-ish episode about Black History Month this past week made me realize the disconnect is a reality between the heroes of today and yesteryear due to things being remembered more easily in the now for newer audiences than something that happened long ago that they weren’t around to witness. The men and women who helped to usher in a new pride in Black American pop culture aren’t given the same reverence as other cultures in traditional media regardless of their shortcomings. Witch hunts don’t occur to the same degree to such stars as Elvis Presley or The Beatles.
We have to go to the start of it all which was the dream of a struggling musician by the name of Joe Jackson. The patriarch of the greatest musical family in history never got his just due in my opinion for orchestrating the birth of what many call the greatest entertainer to ever live. When he passed away there were some in the media who brought up his transgressions of being a child abuser and womanizer. This must be addressed because it illustrates the point I made above that other cultures when their heroes die they are allowed a grace period before bringing up their sins after death. In most cases, their transgressions are forgiven or completely swept under the rug.
What was even more amazing and never celebrated was Joe Jackson raised his family of celebrity children with an iron rod and in their prime were never in any scandals or rumors of drug abuse. The era where cointelpro ran rampant to infiltrate the inner city youth and the flower power era of the sexual revolution did not inhibit The Jacksons from doing the impossible in acquiring the “American Dream”. It has been confirmed that the government had an agenda post civil rights movement to wage a war on black America and had the agenda of:
- Prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups
- Prevent the rise of a messiah who could unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement
- Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining respectability by discrediting them to the community
- A final goal should be to prevent the long range growth of militant black nationalist organizations especially among youth
The above excerpt became widely known after Hoover’s administration came to its full conclusion. Traditional media has also documented this such as The Guardian. Now some of you may ask is this a civil rights article or is it about Michael Jackson? The answer is both and so much more.
During the FBI plans of that era there was a young boy that would become King. The Jacksons always came off as non threatening to the mainstream because of how well Motown packaged the family by having them introduced by Diana Ross, whom I have proclaimed the “Original Diva”. She was the queen of Motown and was one of the bright stars African Americans seen on television during the Civil Rights Era. So when Diana Ross presented a young Michael Jackson in 1969, the world witnessed the introduction of the prince of R & B/ Soul.
To many long time fans of Michael Jackson, this is still his best work to date. It was a changing of the guard album that included the sounds of disco at the time, but still had the characteristics of soul music he grew up with from his Motown Records era.
Lord Jamar from the 90’s hip hop group Brand Nubian and The Breakfast Club’s Charlamagne spoke with VladTV about the need to celebrate black excellence which led to a discussion of the different outlook by certain fans on the importance of “Off The Wall” compared to “Thriller”.
The two interviews above are interesting because of the way Michael Jackson interpreted his American Music Award in 1980 for “Off The Wall”. He later revealed he was upset that the album didn’t win “Album Of The Year” and that the industry categorized him as only a soul/ r & b singer. Michael’s willingness to not be put into a box would be furthered as you will see later.
He promised himself that the next time he would appear at an Awards show he would have album of the year. This aspiration came to fruition when he created the album “Thriller”. Maybe it was around this time that the birth of the mysterious enigma of the child turned man started. In my other article I stated how the two youth of the Jackson clan in Michael and Janet impacted the world.
In 1980, Michael Jackson gave his first unique interview unlike any other artist at the time. He would sit down with John Pidgeon for an interview, but the conduit would be his little sister Janet Jackson.
“If you could direct your questions to Janet, she’ll put them to Michael.”Shirley Brooks – Publicist For Epic Records
Michael Jackson at a young age always understood the power of media and how to use it to his advantage. In this instance, he also grew to learn the art of creating mystique. He would now make it harder to access him for interviews.
Does he work very hard on his dancing?
Janet Jackson: He just… oh the question. Do you work very hard on your dancing? [laughs]
I should but I don’t. [laughs] I just… whatever you see me do is spontaneous reactions on stage. It’s nothing planned. It’s nothing that I got in the room and tried to think of hard. It just happens through feeling.
The interviewer in later years found the task daunting as Michael Jackson didn’t really give too much insight and in my opinion Jackson did this on purpose as he knew in the future what his plans were in terms of becoming more mysterious.
It is this mystery that maybe later allowed the media to help perpetuate Jackson into categories that would get him labeled as Wacko Jacko and more insidious sentiments. Jermaine Dupri who dated his sister for several years detailed how The Jacksons family was your regular African American family.
A couple years later, the phenomenal Michael Jackson would see his star shoot even higher when he dropped the jaw dropping music video “Billie Jean”. This time period saw the birth of MTV and a new artform that was threatening traditional radio in terms of the music video. It would be this outlet that would turn Michael Jackson into the ‘King Of Pop”.
Now the creativity of Michael Jackson and his mission to achieve the greatest selling album of all-time did not prevent him from recognizing his roots. As he became a bona fide crossover sensation in the mainstream it was his return to Motown that would make sure he remained a legend in the urban community. When he displayed the moonwalk to the greater audience worldwide, he insured that the undervalued and unappreciated underground of African American entertainers and fans had a new voice in the excessive 1980’s.
This to me is where Michael Jackson became a threat to the status quo because he was now straddling on both ends of the spectrum in terms of society. During the tapings for the hit song “Beat It”, young Michael Jackson tried to unite the Bloods and Crips on the set. As naïve as it may have been to think dance could end beefs it came from the right place in his heart for his people. He understood that music was the universal language and that music played a profound position of the youth around the world. It’s quite telling that this young superstar in music had the powers of Hollywood at his beckoning, but still understood the duality of California not being all that glitters.
Michael Jackson is mass culture, not pop culture – he appeals to everybodyNew York Times – January 14, 1984
They say when you rise to the greatest of heights the fall is just as staggering. This time around Michael Jackson could not be denied by industry powerbrokers. MTV was threatened by Epic Records because they would not air Michael’s music videos due to racism. The record company promised MTV that they would not get any other music videos from artists on the label if they continued to not play Jackson’s music. Yes, people there was a time when even Michael Jackson’s music would not receive air time because of politics. The Grammy Award ceremony also felt the power of Michael Jackson as he grabbed a record smashing for its time 8 awards at the event in 1984 which made headlines everywhere.
It is ironic as it’s around this time where the split in friendship began between the two men as Michael Jackson would purchase the catalog of The Beatles after being informed by McCartney that owning publishing was a lucrative endeavor. McCartney felt betrayed that Jackson would purchase his music at a higher price as McCartney was trying to get the lowest price for the catalog before buying it.
The gloved one would end up owning the catalogs of future iconic stars of music such as Eminem, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and more. He would wind up owning half of Sony/ATV.
Yet Mr. Jackson does not fit the rebellious image of the typical pop star. Indeed, he projects a personality of wide-eyed, vaguely androgynous innocenceNew York Times 1984
In 1984, Michael Jackson also started to get press from major outlets such as “The New York Times”. During an article one writer analyzed him in a way that perhaps was shattered with his follow up album “Bad”. The article in January 1984 also did not see the underlying messages of Michael Jackson that I mentioned above with songs like ‘Beat It”. Michael Jackson was “woke” before it came a buzz word in the new era.
He appeals to all ages and he appeals to every kind of pop listener. This kind of performer comes once in a generation.” Difficult to CategorizeNew York Times – January 1984
Michael Jackson’s crossover appeal truly resonated and the media could not deny the power he was wielding over people. This kind of power could scare certain people if used in a certain way. He was also receiving backlash from his religion of Jehovah’s Witness for making Thriller which had scenery associated with the occult.
”Thriller” is now played on rock radio stations that cater largely to young white listeners as well as on urban dance-music stations that appeal largely to blacks. Before ”Thriller,” few entertainers were able to cross that subtle color line. A similar crossover has taken place on cable television, where Mr. Jackson’s video clips are shown on programs that rarely offer black performers.
The 1984 article is a prime example that Jackson was portrayed as non threatening to certain members of society in comparison to someone that could rock the boat. This would all change on MJ’s next album. It may have also been the beginning of the end of his run on top of the mountain where he was beloved by the media.New York Times – January 14, 1984
Michael Jackson used his appeal to address issues in society on his next album entitled “BAD”. The lead song with the album title had a music video of a young black man who was sent off to a well to do school for higher education, but was stuck in the conflict of still trying to be down with his friends in his troubled neighborhood. This is the music video where Wesley Snipes caught his first break. The song was based on a true story he had read of about a black kid being killed after returning home from school to his neighborhood. Michael Jackson was addressing another issue in the black community of crabs in the bucket occurring when one gets out of the ghetto through different aspirations and others hating on one’s progression.
In the spring of 1987, Michael withdrew from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A letter from the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, sent as a press release, stated that the organization ‘no longer considers Michael Jackson to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses after they were pressuring Michael Jackson to make another statement similar to one he did a few years earlier about never doing another video such as Thriller.
Michael Jackson even at the height of his popularity would go door to door to preach the gospel in disguise. Now a man without a religion he would preach to the world through his music. It never became more evident than in 1988 when he did the song “Man In The Mirror” with a choir at the Grammy Awards.
The moonwalker accepted his position in the world as a major influencer to make a change. He didn’t try to exalt himself above the people who put him in the position of being one of the greatest stars in music history. He still acquired the talents of the streets on his follow up album by having Crips on the set of “The Way You Make Me Feel” music video.
By this time the music world was seeing a change with the rise of hip hop and the sounds of New Jack Swing. Stars such as Bobby Brown was gaining steam and rap stars like N.W.A. were now representing the streets of LA in music. The obvious changing physical features of Michael Jackson was also now becoming problematic for some of his fans. The King of Pop also no longer toured with his brothers and performed across the globe with his own crew.
Being a major force in music for decades by this time, there was a clean house done by Michael Jackson where he fired Quincy Jones and hired new jack sound producer Teddy Riley. Michael would address everyone with the song “Black or White” about racism and his changing skin tone. The song and video that would illustrate Michael’s woke nature was the Eddie Murphy and Iman assisted “Remember The Time” where MJ takes everyone back to the time of blacks being Queens and Kings in Egypt.
“Dangerous” was indeed a dangerous album that was relaying messages to the status quo and he also tried to reassure those who doubted his grip on reality in terms of his blackness as some believed he no longer wanted to be associated with the culture or race that cultivated his talents. As Michael Jackson got more political the attacks on his credibility grew in the 1990’s and he was never that same man child of the civil rights era.
Do you remember the three tenets I spoke about above concerning the FBI’s plan to thwart a black messiah? Well, the aspects of those tenets became something that ended up hurting Michael Jackson to fans around the world. A division was made by his African American fanbase that made his songs seem hollow to those who believed MJ hated his own race, but in reality Jackson tried to get away from being categorized as a black or white singer.
For those who say Michael Jackson didn’t have the same soul or recognition of his people’s plight after “Off The Wall” as Lord Jamar stated above must have missed the very controversial “Black Or White” music video. Remember that FBI mandate to prevent the rise of a Black Messiah? What would they say to a young prince Michael Jackson during the civil rights era if they showed him as a Black Panther in the future?
Just as a young kid born from a black panther mother espoused “They Don’t Give A $#$% About Us” in hip hop, Michael Jackson went into the deep end with this assertation in the music video below where he states “Don’t Black Or White Me”.
As Michael Jackson began to have skin issues due to his vitiligo situation he started to perhaps see racism from his own people towards him in terms of colorism that future artists like dancehall queen Spice would speak about.
It was clear that MJ was no longer the non threatening singing sensation of 1984. A decade later he started to sing more political songs. Soon after the allegations thrown at Michael Jackson increased.
This article will not summarize his guilt or innocence since he was acquitted of the accusations. What this article will conclude is that it seems the system is not affording a deceased celebrity the same kind of forgiveness or riddance of debt as others of the same fame or level of legend tend to receive from media.
What is so ironic as the times changed, Michael Jackson tried to “Keep Up With The Kardashians” so to speak when he did a reality series formatted documentary with UK journalist Martin Bashir that opened him back up to allegations. Michael Jackson in 1980 would look sideways to his 2000’s version for not keeping up the mystique element that helped to skyrocket his fame. It was from these set of interviews Michael Jackson would end up spiraling down the same ladder he climbed up in the early 80’s when he did the “Living With Michael Jackson” documentary.
Although he did a counter documentary with Maury Povich to tell his side of the story the damage was already done to Michael’s image to a new generation of fans. It may have also just signaled that his time and era was over. The innocence lost and new genres and stars were now the frenzy. It was now the era of reality tv and the internet. A distant reality from the 1970’s and 1980’s where being larger than life was what fans wanted from their pop stars where they could live vicariously through what they perceived as their fantasy.
It is apparent that whether or not you like Michael Jackson or fall on one side of the fence in terms of the newly found accusations, you are witnessing one of the greatest men to impact the lives of people around the world continue to be crucified even in death without being given a fair shake to plead his case. So to answer the question posed to popular blogger Perez Hilton I have answered the question he avoided by our Worldwide Entertainment TV youtube team. If the traditional media wants to go after Michael Jackson for sins than it should be equal for everyone else as well in the entertainment industry. Do not pick and choose who to malign that are deceased.
This has been another exclusive article by VENOM for Worldwide Entertainment TV.
****UPDATE**** Tariq Nasheed gives his review of the controversial Leaving Neverland below.