All Articles Tagged "Michael Jackson"
We now live in a world without Prince and Michael Jackson. I can not deal. Nothing about that feels right, and it truly pains me to type those words.
Like millions of fans around the globe, I’m still in a state of shock that Prince Rogers Nelson, one of the greatest and most prolific entertainers to ever walk the earth, died at 57 years young last week. Since his sudden and unexpected passing, I’ve alternated between fits of denial, anger and sadness. Rest in peace, gone too soon – neither of these general phrases adequately express the tremendous weight of his loss, just like none of these words seem to encapsulate what Prince and his music meant to me personally, and to the world. But I’ll try.
A child of the ’80s, the decade both his and Michael’s reigns ruled supreme; Prince is as natural to my existence as the purple birthmark on my tongue and the very air I breathe. Unapologetic, undeniably sexy, self-aware and woke AF, Prince was equal parts magic and mystery. Mysterious, not because he was labeled a private person, a word that never seemed to fit, in my opinion, considering how much he put into his music. The mystery lied more in his ability to make me feel so deeply. To confuse me when I was old enough to realize that his masculinity was heavily steeped in femininity, a quality that was at odds with society’s traditional standards of Black manhood.
The magic lied in Prince’s blindness to rules that never applied to him. How could they? This was a man who defined the word “style” as Ali’s jab. A man who let only Black people refer to him as Prince after he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. The magic also lied in his ability to enthrall completely. How could one person be so talented? Prince hit notes that no one should be able to hit. His compositions brought tears to my eyes, and his clever lyrics married the words carnal and divinity. They also birthed my writing sensibilities. Prince’s sheer, remarkable talent was effortless. The way he commanded the stage – rather, any space he occupied – was nothing short of magic. Prince entered a room and time stopped. Heads turned. Mouths went agape. Molecules changed. Screams ensued. That’s exactly how I would describe having seen him at a club years ago in Los Angeles. He seemed to appear out of nowhere like an apparition. I was frozen as he glided past me on an ethereal, purple cloud. It seemed as if spotlights followed him from above and below, like the glowing sidewalk in Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video. Like Bruce Leroy, Prince had the glow. And he wasn’t even looking for it. That sh-t just came naturally.
I had the great fortune of attending three of his concerts. The first time I saw Prince was at the Staples Center during his Musicology tour. I remember wanting to live in that moment; to stuff that purple goodness in a bottle and get free on its fumes. Smelling salts for the soul. The next two times I saw Prince in concert were much more intimate. He played at The Forum. Tickets were only $25, a testament to how much he loved his fans. Prince was in his element those nights, playing hit after hit. One of those nights he opened with “D.M.S.R.” Another night, he closed with “Purple Rain”…only to return 30 minutes later after much of the crowd had left, except for those who never stopped cheering, applauding and calling his name. “Do you know how many hits we got?” he said while playing that famous purple piano. Of course, we did. How could we not?
Prince’s music accentuated my everyday lived experiences. He was by my side at my brother’s wedding. “Adore” was the first song he and his wife danced to as newlyweds. The song “1999” was the theme of my high school prom. His music has been a constant companion through thick and thin, good and bad. An icon. And sadly, it seems that more and more of our icons are leaving us, taking with them that nostalgic feeling from our youth, reminding us that we truly don’t know what greatness we have until it’s gone. Who is left?
A consummate creator, an enigmatic, sexy mofo. Trendsetting king of cool. He was a Prince for the ages. My friend Jackie often jokes that it was Prince’s world, and we were just living in it. She was right. There will never be another like him. How lucky for us to have known his greatness. Thank you, sweet Prince.
Spike Lee’s Showtime documentary film Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown To Off The Wall premiered last Friday. As a diehard, straight out the womb Michael Jackson fan, I got my entire life watching mesmerizing clips and giddy interviews of the man himself, conversations with those who personally knew him and the “witnesses” (as they were labeled in the credits) who were touched by MJ’s indelible body of work. I happily sang along to tunes that will forever bring me joy and gained further insight into the man they called King.
In the documentary, Lee honed in on MJ’s early years and made a conscious decision to focus solely on the music created during that impressionable, history-making time, instead of the myriad controversies and scandals that plagued later portions of Jackson’s solo career. One of those controversies, which sparks conversation almost seven years after the late singer’s death, is Jackson’s changing appearance over the years. Though MJ’s legacy lives in the music he created and shared with the world, it’s almost impossible to mention his name without hearing the widely-held belief that Michael Jackson wanted to look and be White. A belief that has made its way back into discussion due to the casting of Joseph Fiennes to play the pop star in the film, Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon. But I think the answer to his physical transformation lies in a note Jackson wrote to himself, which was shared in the film.
Jackson was only 21 years old when he wrote his future into existence, much like Octavia Butler did, as we recently learned. “MJ will be my new name,” he declared. “No more Michael Jackson. I want a whole new character, a whole new look. I should be a tottally [sic] different person. People should never think of me as the kid who sang “ABC,” [or] “I Want You Back.” I should be a new, incredible actor/singer/dancer that will shock the world. I will do no interviews. I will be magic. I will be a perfectionist, a researcher, a trainer, a masterer [sic]. I will be better than every great actor roped into one.”
One of the things that was painfully obvious throughout the film was that executives, producers, businessmen, and directors alike constantly doubted Jackson. They doubted whether he would have a singing career past childhood, whether he could have an acting career and star in The Wiz (or any other film for that matter), whether he could create his own music and be a solo artist. It’s kind of crazy, considering that he had already proven himself so many times. His talent was undeniable. Jackson combined his innate sensibilities with hard work, passion and an unwavering appreciation for and study of artists like James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and the Nicholas Brothers. He combined those influences into a unique style all his own, yet he kept having to prove himself to people who didn’t share or understand his vision.
Jackson, who admittedly was never satisfied, was a complicated, misunderstood genius driven by an impossible quest for perfection. That quest led to a desire to physically reinvent himself with the release of each solo album, from Off The Wall to Invincible, the last album he recorded prior to his 2009 death. Reinvention translated to numerous alterations to his nose, a cleft in his chin, his changing hair, and, yes, lighter skin, though induced by vitiligo. Despite those changes, I don’t think Jackson was seeking to become a different race, that he saw flaws in his blackness, or that he equated whiteness with greatness and perfection. Different was the name of the game. He was striving to both outdo himself and to be in a league all his own. He sought continually to distance himself from his boyhood image, though he longed for the childhood he claimed to have missed. And he wanted to create an identity entirely separate from his brothers.
I recognize that there are so many issues that complicate this reading. The fact that Jackson took in three White children, for example, and that he seemed to have body dysmorphic disorder. He was also rendered untouchable by his exorbitant level of fame, which probably fed into a belief that he could alter his appearance and continue to go about his business without being questioned, like unexplained magic. Born and bred in the shock value era, reinvention was also a way in which Jackson could remain relevant, or rather, talked about in the public eye. Which is sad because the only thing that ever really mattered was the music, but that was overshadowed by his persona.
Of course, all of this conjecture is predicated on a single, handwritten note that seemed to play a crucial role in Michael Jackson’s adult life. But only he knew his innermost thoughts, the real reasons why he changed his physical appearance time and again, and why the changes never seemed to be enough.
Regardless, it’s the music that remains of importance. I am grateful to Spike Lee for creating a film that didn’t succumb to the easy, “But what happened to Michael’s skin?” trap. That’s a different film for a different director entirely. Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown To Off The Wall gave us a glimpse into the makings of one of the greatest, most innovative entertainers to ever grace the earth, an enigma and cultural icon whose influence lives on in countless artists and in the hearts of countless fans.
White people have truly outdone themselves casting Joseph Fiennes to portray Michael Jackson in an upcoming British TV movie about a post-9/11 celebrity road trip. That means any thought you had about diversity being better across the pond in the midst of our own Oscar tragedy in the states is dead wrong — but Idris already told us that anyway.
The Guardian is the outlet that broke this disappointing, though in a way unsurprising, casting news all the while making no attempt to address the elephant in the room: why has a white man been cast to play the greatest entertainer of all time — a black man? Instead, they focused on the plot of the drama which will tell the story of how Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando drove from New York City to Ohio in an attempt to get home following the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.
Cool; now let’s get back to this white man playing a black man thing — an issue Fiennes himself has neglected to address as well. When he was asked about the script, he acknowledged “It’s a challenge” but not for the obvious racial reason that has most of us up in arms, but because “it’s a comedy” — another odd choice considering the tragedy that was surrounding the trip at the time. According to Fiennes, the flick is just “[A] fun, lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also it’s rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships.”
Except there’s nothing lighthearted about erasing a man’s blackness and clearly taking white-washing cues from Hollywood. In a way, the timing of this announcement couldn’t be more perfect because it demonstrates how much bigger this #OscarsSoWhite debate is. Every film industry across the world looks to American cinema to get their cues and it’s clear African descendants are in danger of losing their representation in all mediums if we continue to be complicit in this erasure. We need to do far more than boycott an American award show when we find ourselves in a day and age where Europeans aren’t being chosen just to muddle the racial makeup of our ancestors, such as in the case of Gods of Egypt, but with current Black pop culture figures, particularly one whose race never impeded on his international appeal. We’re being wiped out in our streets and on screen. If we don’t start preserving our legacy and refusing to let others claim our history as their own, it may forever be lost.
I don’t know very much about Fatima Robinson personally, but I’ve been a major fan of her choreography for years. I would say, ever since Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time” video, which I memorized back in the day (the “Walk Like An Egyptian” isolations are everything).
But I, along with all of you, will get to learn the story behind her success soon enough. A TV show based on the renowned choreographer’s life is coming to TV, all thanks to NBC.
According to Shadow and Act, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who worked with Robinson on The Wiz Live! will produce the series. It will be set in Los Angeles during the ’90s and is inspired by Robinson’s early beginnings as a dancer and then as an up-and-coming choreographer.
Zadan said his past work with Robinson impressed him so much that he wanted to share her story.
“We worked with her on the Oscars and knew she was special. We hired Fatima Robinson, who is not a Broadway choreographer, to do authentic black dancing. She comes from hip-hop and a lot of her point of view on dance is very gritty and authentic and raw.”
Of course, Robinson will choreograph the show, which is currently in development and seeking out talented writers.
In case you didn’t know much about her before, Robinson has directed and choreographed videos for everyone from Michael Jackson to Aaliyah, Britney Spears, and the Black Eyed Peas. She’s also been doing her thing for film, including Dreamgirls, Sparkle, and Ali, and choreographing performances seen during the Super Bowl, Academy Awards, and the Grammys.
She’s a heavyweight in the industry, and we’re excited to see what this show based on her life will develop into. As long as it doesn’t give us Honey vibes, it should be a must-see program. Are you excited for it?
Raven-Symoné Didn’t Love “The Wiz Live!” But You Probably Already Knew That: “I Miss The Original People”
I’m sure you already heard from Veronica Wells that The Wiz Live! gave most who watched it quite a bit of life. The songs, the dancing, the costumes–it exceeded the expectations of most The Wiz fans who tuned in.
Except for one. And you already know who you can count on to be that voice of dissent.
The ladies of The View briefly discussed the few people/trolls who took issue with the production having an all-Black cast, but before talking about that, they shared their opinions of the show. Raven-Symoné was the only one who wasn’t crazy about it. After Candace Cameron Bure had said that she thought the performances were “fantastic,” Symoné responded with “I’m a little different,” before going on to say that nothing could beat “the originals,” as she called Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
“I have such a high bar in standard for The Wiz, being that it was Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Stephanie Mills, that when I went into it I was like, ‘Let’s go!’ And then I just…I miss Michael. I miss Diana.”
When asked if she was saying she was disappointed with the live show, Symoné said, “I’m not going to say that word out loud,” and remarked that “I just miss the people that originated those roles.”
She continued, “It’s a hard act to follow. I loved the costumes, and I thought the singing on certain new songs and old songs were great, but on an overall, I just want to say, I miss the original people.”
But you know Twitter wasn’t having any of what Symoné was trying to serve. Those who enjoyed the show had to remind her that the live production was not based on the 1978 film, but on the Broadway play, which came to the Majestic Theater in 1975 (but started in Baltimore in 1974). So no, sis, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson weren’t “the originals” after all.
You know Symoné just has to be the one who doesn’t like something everyone else (i.e., Black folks) rave about. But in an interesting plot twist, she did shut down those who said that the cast being full of Black people is racist.
“But can we bring up the fact that there were no Black people in the original Wizard of Oz. That’s why it was created!”
Now and then I see flickers of hope in Symoné, that she hasn’t completely gone over to the dark side. But for the most part, I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that her foray into trolldom will be a long-term thing.
What did you think of The Wiz Live!? Do you agree with Symoné or were you as impressed as we were by the live NBC production?
To put Hip Hop allegiances in the simplest of terms, if you’re from the East Coast, you’re a Biggie fan and if you’re from the West, Tupac is your fave. And if you’re from the Midwest, like myself you have the pleasant task of choosing.
When it came to me and my house, we were Tupac fans. I was a child of the ’90’s and I enjoyed the passion and energy of his music and more than any other rapper of that era he just seemed to be saying the right things…sometimes. In addition to warning women that the underground just “don’t stop for hoes,” and telling Biggie “That’s why I f–ked your b–ch,” he was also telling women to keep their heads up and asking men why we don’t respect them. What male rapper was talking about misogyny in the ’90’s, even if he himself often fell victim to it? Before Tupac became a part of Death Row, he was a product of the Black Panther teachings and from the time he was a young teenager, he was speaking out against White supremacy and injustice.
He was a conflicted soul to say the least. And what saddens me the most about Tupac’s short life is that if he’d had the opportunity to live and mature a little bit longer, he could have done even more great things in the world, revolutionary things.
Sadly, that’s just not how the cookie crumbled.
If you can’t tell already, I have great respect for Pac so when I hear people compare others to him, my antennas perk up.
And that’s what they did this weekend when Nick Cannon said this.
Damn right I said it! The level of talent, passion, and artistic ability that this young man possesses makes @ChrisBrownOfficial a true legend amongst legends. A lot of times we don't realize or acknowledge our treasures while we still have them with us. We wait until they are gone to appreciate their power. Think about how much everyone attacked MJ and 2Pac while they were alive… I don't think I have ever witnessed someone more gifted, who has overcome so much and still growing and learning daily. My Prayers go up for this dude everyday. @ChrisBrownOfficial #Respect #Legend #Loyalty #Love #Artist #Proud #Men
I wish I were mature enough to ignore this. I wish I could just dismiss this as the trolling it likely was and keep moving on with my day. But by golly, I just cannot. It’s too far fetched to ignore.
And I don’t say that because Pac and Michael were saints and Chris Brown isn’t. None of these men were or are perfect, just like the rest of us. But I was always good at grouping like objects and if you ask me, all three of these men, while they share some qualities as artists, are quite different from each other.
Aside from the fact that each of these men were both talented and controversial, there are really no further similarities to me.
When I think about Michael Jackson, I think about a consummate entertainer who had laser like focus and an almost unnatural work ethic. That’s what made him legendary. Of all the archival footage that I’ve watched of Michael Jackson, none of it shows him off his game. His ability to inspire, astound and entertain is unmatched. And as someone who’s followed a majority Chris Brown’s career, I can’t say the same for him.
And I root for Chris Brown. I desperately want him to win but I’m also honest enough to acknowledge that he lets too much nonsense get in the way of making his music and perfecting his art. There have literally been times on stage when Chris will stop dancing and stop singing to talk about his relationship drama. Michael would never.
Perhaps Nick was trying to say that he was more Tupac in that regard. You know, the bad boy. But nah. We’re talking legends here. One who proved himself over decades and another who was actually about challenging people and improving the community. While both Chris and Pac have some pretty hurtful and harmful songs directed against women, Pac, at least, had some content and some views and opinions to counter that. I can’t recall a time when I heard Chris speak about community uplift or sing a song about the worth of women, outside of sex or romantic affection. And that’s fine. He doesn’t have to, but that’s what makes him different, in very fundamental ways, from Tupac. Maybe Chris will get there one day but as of now, he’s just not on that level.
But he still has time.
More than anything I don’t know why we always have to compare artists and people. There will never be another Michael or Pac. And the two didn’t get together in some alternate universe to send us Chris Brown in place of their absence. He’s different and different is quite alright.
But that’s just me, perhaps I’m too in my feelings to see this clearly.
Does anyone else think that Michael Jackson + Tupac = Chris Brown?
Every day is a great day to celebrate the life and music of Michael Jackson. The King of Pop was one of, if not the greatest entertainer of all time. Michael Jackson has sold more records and won more awards than almost everyone. However, how his music makes people feel is his biggest accomplishment. We’re straying away from his most popular hits to give you these hidden gems, you’ll still light up as soon as you hear them.
#MusicMonday: Michael Jackson Feel Good Songs
With the 2015 BET Awards going down this weekend, we decided to take a look at some of the best tributes, reunions, performances, and hilarious moments from the award show over the years. What’s your favorite moment?
I’mma Let You Finish, Caitlyn, But Michael Jackson Could’ve Been The Greatest LGBT Advocate Of All Time
When the Olympian formerly known as Bruce Jenner made her big reveal as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair you could hear the Internet break. Sorry, Kimye, but news of baby number two was immediately eclipsed by CJ’s coming-out party. Folks were just too curious to finally get a glimpse of her transition, and when we did, our collective jaws dropped in shock and awe.
Of course, we live in the digital age, so it wasn’t long before a flurry of memes flooded our timelines. Some were humorous (mostly at Kris Jenner’s expense). Others were just ignorant of the many complexities of what it means to be transgender, not just as a public figure but also as a human being. But there was one meme in particular that stood out from the pile for me.
Featuring a pair of adjacent Michael Jackson photos (one dark-skinned and the other light-skinned) atop a pair of before-and-after flicks of Jenner, the caption called attention to the idea of MJ often being “insulted and judged” for his physical transformations, while CJ is being “praised and called brave” for hers.
Let’s be 100 percent clear. It’s a major error in judgement to compare vitiligo and cosmetic surgery to transgender identity because, truthfully, the reasons for both are worlds apart. One procedure can be viewed as completely elective while the other is a necessary change that most may (obviously) never understand. Still, the anonymous meme got me thinking beyond sexism, racism, classism or any other suggested ism:
Is it possible that the media’s decades-long (mis)perception of Michael Jackson is far different than any of us ever thought? Could it be that the King of Pop’s physical transformations were not about self-hate but rather a misunderstood search for self-discovery? What if Jackson was struggling with a similar inner conflict as Jenner and just didn’t know how to express it?
Of course, there are absolutely no facts or proof of that being the case, but with approximately 700,000 transgender people living in the U.S. today, who’s to say that MJ couldn’t have been one of them? At the very least, it’s something worth considering as a slight possibility, no matter how improbable. But maybe that’s just me.
Sure, Jackson spoke in a soft, effeminate voice, wore elaborate costumes and had his hair laid in immaculate doobies on the regular, but let’s be real. None of the above automatically points to him (or anyone else for that matter) being gay, transgender or other. Being eccentric is par for the course when it comes to many celebrities (think Jaden Smith, etc.). Unfortunately, so is the ridicule that often comes with being different (again, think Jaden Smith, etc.).
Over the years, we literally watched Michael change before our eyes. His complexion lightened, his facial features shifted, and his hair texture morphed from kinky to bone straight. It all reminds me of a “joke” I once heard about Michael being the greatest man in the world because he was born a poor Black boy in Gary, Indiana and grew up to become a rich White woman in Europe. They say that behind every joke is a little bit of truth, but neither transgender identity nor Michael Jackson’s assumed issues are a punchline.
Still, people continued to speculate about Jackson’s mental state and even questioned his sexuality and the sincerity of his humanitarian support of young people. With unsubstantiated descriptors like “gay,” “asexual” or even “pedophile” thrown around in the media, stand-up comedy routines and regular conversations occurring whenever the singer’s name was brought up, it’s no wonder he eventually moved his family abroad and limited his time in the public eye.
If it took Jenner—an international star in her own right albeit microscopic in comparison to Michael—65 years to publicly embrace her true identity, imagine the pressure someone like Jackson could have experienced if feeling trapped in the wrong body was at the root of his inner conflict. It’s hard enough for the average Joe/Jane to come out and truly feel free, so the burden of wanting to change genders would be tenfold for a perpetually persecuted man who was arguably the most recognizable person in the world.
Of course, this is all theoretical rhetoric on my part, and there is no reported evidence of Jackson even considering himself transgender, but a part of me still wonders: What if he was? Not for my personal conspiracy theories or some desire to publicly out someone who can no longer defend himself, but for what that could have meant for the world’s acceptance of Black LGBT rights. Can you imagine all the good MJ (transgender or not) could have done if he were to have become an international advocate for Black trans issues?
His music, which was at times politically tinged (think “They Don’t Care About Us,” “Earth Song”), could have been the soundtrack to the movement. He could have been the face of change and acceptance for people of color the world over. But that’s just wishful thinking on my part because only Jackson truly knows the reasoning behind his many physical transformations over the years. And since the singer is no longer with us in the physical form, we have no clue as to where he would have stood publicly on LGBT issues, but I’m an optimist.
In the six years since Jackson’s passing, the world has still managed to change albeit at its own pace. In recent years, trans women like Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Isis King and countless others who don’t get national headlines have emerged at the forefront of the new millennium civil rights movement. While their advocacy and acceptance has helped the cause, a public figure of color the likes of Michael Jackson could have made their journeys somewhat easier. Because for all the praise Jenner receives for her brave revelation, it still leaves a large section of voices unheard.
Cox explains it best on her Tumblr page:
“Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class. I have hoped over the past few years that the incredible love I have received from the public can translate to the lives of all trans folks. Trans folks of all races, gender expressions, ability, sexual orientations, classes, immigration status, employment status, transition status, genital status etc. I hope, as I know Caitlyn does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us. The struggle continues…”
Regardless of your views on Jenner, Jackson, or transgender issues, the message here is about how much the world needs to change and I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
What about you?
Got a $100 million handy? You could use it to by Michael Jackson beloved Neverland Ranch, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The California ranch is 2,700 acres and features a train station, six-bedroom house, 50-seat movie theater, and two lakes. No one has lived on the estate since Jackson’s death in 2009.
If Neverland does sell for its asking price, it will far exceed the $19.5 million Jackson originally paid for the land in 1988. He did, of course, spruce it up more than a bit by adding such grand amenities as a zoo and small amusement park, which have since been removed, reports Billboard. Jackson dubbed his estate Neverland after the home of the fictional children’s character Peter Pan.
Jackson defaulted on a $24.5 million loan in 2008 and was bailed out by real estate company Colony Capital LLC.
There had been rumors that Neverland would turn into an attraction similar to Elvis Presley’s Graceland. But it looks like Colony Capital, which has maintained the ranch, has no plans in doing so.
The property is also infamous because Jackson was arrested on charges he molested children on the property. He was acquitted in 2005. After that, Jackson rarely stayed at the ranch.