Michael Jackson: Holy Shit

June 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm 9 comments

So, I’ve never really been a Michael Jackson fan. As my Persian friends like to point out, “There are two kinds of Persians. Those who like MJ, and those who don’t.” Well, with shit going down in Iran, I think it’s only all-too-ironic that Tehran’s symbol for the progressive West has mysteriously died. Growing up, I always fell into the “don’t” category, and it was only with his passing that I realized just what I was missing…thanks to MTV’s constant RIP video special:

MJ was a music video GENIUS.

Screw Chuck Statler- MJ’s formula for music videos was EPIC. It’s one thing to hire cutting edge directors like Spike Lee and Martin Scorcese to direct the videos…it’s quite another to actually take the risk to collaborate with directors for never-before-seen music video strategies. Thriller, Bad, They Don’t Really Care About Us, and Smooth Criminal are all deadly videos that set the standard for today’s artists. Tactics like bookending the music video with a diegetic story, presenting the music video like a feature-film trailer, and pretty much inventing how to edit a choreographed dance sequence are all courtesy of MJ and his all around sweet video collection. Except for “Scream”, of course.

Check out my faves [Note: these videos are all (solely) owned by Michael Jackson, who has disabled embedding. Click on the Youtube link to check ’em out!]:

Thriller The first video to incorporate dialogue exclusive to the track. It has a storyline, choreographed dance movements, and a GREAT use of cut-aways and full coverage, ex: 5:54’s sweet swerve parade (just ignore the weird zombie portraiture at 5:24, please). If you substitute the undead for half-naked black women, the dark alley for a swimming pool filled with benjamins, and michael jackson’s sick jacket for a wife-beater, you basically have the formula for every rap video ever made.

Bad FYI: The trick to this one is to keep your eyes on the “Japanese” break dancer, for maximum brilliance seepage. This video is important because is demonstrates Michael’s (actually, pretty good) acting. It also is one of the first videos to feature a celebrity cameo: Wesley Snipes. I only feel bad for the cinematographer that had to expose for Michael’s pale-white skin and Wesley’s black-as-night bod in the same frame. Bravo!

Beat It I love this beat. I can’t help it. It’s as if Michael begins the video at a slumber-party gone awry, screaming into his pillow for true-love and a decent hair straightener. I can see the Ouija board now: “No one likes to be defeated!” I also can’t help LOVING the chemistry of 00:58’s sincere and heart-felt smooch. Oh well. SICK dance sequence at the end.

Last, but not least, my thirst for tacky greenscreens have been quenched thanks to these two diamonds in the rough:
Rock With You Ugh, I totes want that outfit. Check out the killer 80s pyramid lighting!

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough What can I say? I’m a sucker for guys in tuxedos…as they pelvic thrust in 70s game-show sets! Pure brilliance. I must say he’s probably one of the last performers to successfully pull off an earnest and sincere demeanor without making me grimace and feel uncomfortable. Sorry, Blur.

So I know I’m missing other favorites like Smooth Criminal and Billie Jean, but it’s safe to say that they’re all pretty revolutionary. I’m just sad that I didn’t know. Sad that when they taught me the history of music videos, they completely skipped MJ and went straight to Madonna and U2 (ugh). Here’s to you, Michael Jackson, for inspiring filmmakers everywhere to take a chance and expand our concept of sight and sound. RIP.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. miranda  |  June 28, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    totally.

    Reply
  • 2. Tim Cameron  |  June 29, 2009 at 6:41 am

    Man, my parents listened to Off The Wall all the time when I was little. When that big cheesy intro to Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough comes in, I still can’t help grinning and dancing around. I didn’t see any of his later career OR his videos until I was older thanks to being telvisiorially deprived, but I also love that I’m able to uncover those gems when I’m old enough to appreciate it.
    -betty

    Reply
  • 3. parkrangerolivia  |  June 29, 2009 at 6:51 am

    totes 4realz. Betty, I thought Tim was sounding pretty gay there for a second. Glad it’s just you!

    Reply
  • 4. Noclegi Gory Klodzka  |  June 29, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Yeah, say what you will about michael but he was a genius. There’s no discussion here. And we should all be sad that he left us.

    Reply
  • 5. parkrangerolivia  |  June 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Listen, I’m totally sad. I’m also sad that he left all of those gaping heroin holes all over his pale bod. (http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/2501914/Michael-Jacksons-last-moments.html)

    Reply
  • 6. A Bailes  |  June 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    all those links are dead now.

    Reply
  • 7. A Bailes  |  June 29, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    as dead as Michael Jackson…ooooooooooo

    Reply
  • 8. A Bailes  |  June 29, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    oh shit, I take that back.

    Reply
  • 9. Parkrangerolivia  |  June 30, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Oh snap, now you’re totally getting bad karma. (which also happens to consist of 80s pyramid lighting)

    Reply

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