Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

June 27, 2009

Heresy: Michael Jackson Wasn't That Good After He Left The Jackson Five

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 4:07 am

I know this is heresy, blasphemy to the gods of the publicity industrial complex who created and destroyed the later Michael Jackson.

But I’ve let a day pass since his awful death before saying this: after the completely wonderful Jackson Five era, Michael Jackson was no longer a very interesting singer, not after he left the collaborative genius of the J-5. He became known for his dancing (wow, the moonwalk, really memorable!), for his stupid costumes (what was with the whole militaristic thing? And was the glove really all that interesting or distinctive in any way?), for one or two good songs (“Human Nature” or whatever it was officially called) and “Thriller” wasn’t one of them. Come on, do you really think that novelty concoction is worth another listen ever? (Okay I liked “Billy Jean” even though I still misremember the key lyric as “the chair is not my love”)

Then after the success of his solo comeback, fueled by nostalgia and moonwalking eccentricity, he became known for being a celebrity, famous for being famous, then famous for his eccentricities. Eccentricities that were at first harmless (Bubbles the chimp, etc.), then famous for being weird (“Neverland” the boy-pals), famous for his grotesque plastic surgeries, then famous for being an accused child-molester, acquitted of criminal charges but never able to quit the children. Then he became famous for his famous associations–buying the Beatles catalog and doing that hideously sappy “The Girl is Mine”* with Paul McCartney,”marrying” Lisa Marie Presley, etc. Famous for his famously annoying sisters. Famous for anointing himself “King of Pop” when he no longer could produce a decent pop song. And yet the idiot pop media went along with it, He was the King of Trainwreck Celebrity.

But as for his music? Can you name a single post-“Thriller” song he did?

Sorry. He and the Jackson Five created something magical. “I’ll Be There” is an immortal love song, sublimely beautiful in its simplicity. I’ll remember him with gratitude for that and the rest of the J-5 hits, and try to forget the trainwreck he became.

But in the “moronic inferno” (h/t Martin Amis) of the media “mourning” let’s not forget the real tragedy, that he long ago ceased being a talent and gave in to being a mere celebrity, the sure road to ruin.

*thanks for reader correction.


  1. Hey, Mr. R. MJ didn’t sing the sappy “Ebony and Ivory” with Sir Paul: that was Stevie Wonder. He did duet on “Say, say, say” however.

    Fixed with “The Girl Is Mine”. Thanks. Paul should have stopped collaborating when John died.

    Comment by Boaz Roth — June 27, 2009 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  2. Most Successful Concert Series – Guiness Book Of World Records
    Michael Jackson sold out for seven nights at Wembley Stadium, London, England in the summer of 1988. A total of 504,000 people saw Michael perform July 14-16, 22-23, and August 26-27, 1988.

    Biggest Selling Album Of All Time – Guiness Book Of World Records
    Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Album is the biggest selling album of all time, with over 50 million copies sold worldwide. Thriller is also the biggest selling U.S album with sales of 25 million copies.

    80’s Most #1 Hits
    By The End of the 1980’s MIchael Jackson had more #1 hits than any other artist for the decade.

    Michael has more awards than any other artist.

    Entertainer Of The Decade
    With the #1 (Thriller)and #2 (Bad) ranked albums in the world Michael was the 1980’s Entertainer Of The Decade.

    Most Grammy Awards – Guiness Book Of World Records
    Michael won a record breaking 8 Grammy Awards in 1984, more than any other artist in one year.

    Largest Contracts – Guiness Book Of World Records
    $890 million (Sony Music) Contract, with prospective earnings of $1 billion.

    Greatest Audience – Guiness Book Of World Records
    The highest-ever viewership was 133.4 million viewers watching the NBC transmission of Super Bowl XXVII on June 31, 1993. Michael was spotlighted during the half-time peformance.

    Highest-Paid Commercial Spokesperson – Guiness Book Of World Records
    Pepsi Cola paid Michael Jackson $12 million to do 4 TV commercials.

    Bad Tour – Guiness Book Of World Records
    Michael Jackson’s world tour brought in a record gross revenue of over $124 million during September 1987-December 1988.

    100 Million Records
    Michael has sold over 100 million singles and albums outside of the U.S.

    Billboard Charts
    Michael Jackson is the first person in the 37 year history of the chart to enter at # 1, with his single “You Are Not Alone”. Michael broke his previous redord held by his single “Earth Song” which debuted at #5.

    Biggest Selling Video
    Michael Jackson’s “The Making Of Thriller” is the biggest selling video to be released by an artist.

    Billboard “Hot 100” Singles Chart
    Most #1 Hits by Male Artist (13)

    #1 Debuts
    Michael’s “Bad”, “Dangerous”, and “HIStory” albums all debuted at #1.

    Consecutive #1 Singles
    Jackson 5 were the first group to ever have four consecutive #1 singles.

    #1 On Charts
    In 1983 Michael became the first artist to simultaneously hold the number one spots on Billboard’s rock albums and rock singles charts, as well as the R&B albums and singles charts.

    First Video
    Michael Jackson was the first black artist to have a video aired on MTV.

    Lo be it for me to defend someone who was obviously a very strange man, but dismissing his achievements only makes YOU look foolish.

    The racist novel and film Gone With the Wind were the most popular of the century. Won lots of awards, broke lots of records. Does that make them good? (I said I liked him in the Jackson Five.)

    Comment by TruthHound — June 27, 2009 @ 12:34 pm | Reply

  3. Elvis Presley was surrounded by well paid sycophants. They were such rear end kissers that reportedly the King could contradict himself within a few minutes—and they would agree each and every time. These enablers had to no incentive to help Presley to get his act together. The same thing apparently was the case with Michael Jackson. We can probably take it for granted that he would have terminated any relationship which discouraged his self-destructive indulgences. Did you wish to keep your lucrative job? Well, you had better mind your own business and look the other way.

    Comment by David Thomson — June 27, 2009 @ 12:57 pm | Reply

  4. Come on. Thriller dominated my childhood in a way no other album came close. Not just the music, but the videos, for my generation’s adolescence, there was Thriller and then everything else.

    Comment by Rob — June 27, 2009 @ 1:11 pm | Reply

  5. Key to understanding Jackson is to remember Graham Greene’s notorious remarks about proper Brits gents getting the jack for Shirley Temple. The infant Jackson was marketed as a toy sex symbol: ten year old so experienced that “I want you back”; guess he had her already when she was nine. Any surprise that he internalized this role in his classic behavior of pedophilic entrapment? In 1993 “Life” magazine ran a creepy photo spread of the “art” at Neverland, coincidentally right before the first pederasty scandal broke. One of the paintings showed Jackson with a giant black book balanced between his legs. The spice of the book forms a giant black phallus coming up from between his legs as he is surrounded by laughing children. Nuff said; listen to Memphis Slim instead.

    Comment by charlie finch — June 27, 2009 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  6. Agree that the J5 stuff was his best and after he left Quincy Jones, he never made another song worth listening to. Also could never stand his mush-mouthed diction. I just came from a store where the radio was playing “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.” I’ve heard that for 30 years (I was even a radio DJ for some of those years) and must’ve heard that song 1,000 times, but I still have no idea what the lyrics are. It sounds like, “Get up from the post-op,” which is very bad medical advice.

    One correction, though: “Ebony & Ivory” is a hideous duet between Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder. The hideous Paul-Michael duet you’re thinking of is “The Girl Is Mine.”

    Comment by Pat — June 27, 2009 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  7. Do you know anyone under the age of 40?

    Not as many youths as Michael did.

    Comment by Gil Roth — June 27, 2009 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  8. Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” blows away everything MJ did

    Comment by charlie finch — June 27, 2009 @ 7:32 pm | Reply

  9. What was racist about “Gone With The Wind”? It’s a long time since I read it, but it seems to me the book depicted racist attitudes of the 1860s without actually endorsing them.

    Comment by Evil Pundit — June 27, 2009 @ 7:34 pm | Reply

  10. I’ll see Michael Jackson and all his contemporaries and raise you a 22 year old Tina Turner in front of Ikes’ band with a collection of local pickup singers as the Ikettes. Blow anybody else right off the stage.

    Comment by glenn — June 28, 2009 @ 8:01 am | Reply

  11. Michael Jackson may have had more chart topping singles than Elvis Presley but it was because the Hot One Hundred didnt’ exist when Presley began his career. Elvis had more chart singles than anyone.

    A correction of sorts. It’s commonly thought that Jackson owned “the Beatles” catalogue. In fact, it was the Lennon-McCartney catalogue. George Harrison had a separate publishing company.

    “Say Say Say” is the much better of the duets.

    “Beat It” is a great song, and Jackson was criticized in some quarters for the rock sounding music. I guess he should have left Eddie Van Halen out.

    Comment by Keith Waters — June 28, 2009 @ 8:06 am | Reply

  12. The stand-out thing in MJs discography is that most of it is over 20 years ago. He could probably have rightfully claimed the “King of Pop” title then, but not so much after 1993.

    Comment by SGT Ted — June 28, 2009 @ 8:11 am | Reply

  13. Time magazine is bringing out a special commemorative issue this week honoring Michael Jackson.

    They’re honoring a pedophile. In earlier days, a man would never live down such behavior. Today he receives praise as the deeds are glossed over.

    Comment by Lucy — June 28, 2009 @ 8:14 am | Reply

  14. Thank you for stating what I have thought for a long time. Michael Jackson was more of an entertainer than a singer. He was probably worth watching in a concert but as for singing ability his music, after the Jackson 5 was very one dimensional.

    For musical ability Jackson was not even close the same league as Elvis or the Beatles. Even his critics acknowledged that Elvis Presley had a great singing voice. Elvis could sing rock, ballads, country western, Gospel, almost any form of music well. Michael Jackson sang little more than his own style of boogie music. His most notable ballad was a song to a rat that he sang when he was about 10 years old.

    Comment by Steve — June 28, 2009 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  15. Reagan wasn’t that good of a president.

    Comment by sheesh — June 28, 2009 @ 8:53 am | Reply

  16. “” (Mr McCartney) should have stopped collaborating when (Mr Lenon) died. “”

    Effectively, he did.

    Everything else he has ever done is as you have described the post-J-5 Mr Jackson.

    And I never liked Mr Jackson, even way back when — or, come to that, any other Jackson — either. But thanks to your thoughtful post, I will dig up the tracks you mentioned and have a bit of a listen.

    Cordially – Brian

    Brian Richard Allen
    Los Angeles Califojacksonicated 90028
    And the Far Abroad

    Comment by Brian Richard Allen — June 28, 2009 @ 9:16 am | Reply

  17. Thanks for the post. I never liked MJ or his music. I’m fed up with all the carrying on about his death too. He was a freak and a pedophile.

    Comment by live oak — June 28, 2009 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  18. Michael Jackson was a selfish man of fifty who had less maturity than your typical seventeen year old teenager. He was never generous and gave only when the cost to himself was very low. Jackson’s world revolved around him. He had no real friends because he was incapable of ever truly giving back anything in return. His relationships with fellow celebrities were of a shallow nature. They likely only talked about Jackson and his career. It was all about him 24/7.

    Sometimes we hear stories about interventions by the relatives and friends of substance abusers. Jackson made sure that this would never occur. Nobody around him dared to interfere with his constant drug abuse. I am convinced that Jackson would have pushed them out the door immediately. Only enablers were allowed to remain within his land of make believe.

    Comment by David Thomson — June 28, 2009 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  19. M.J.’s constant on-stage crotch grabbing is still played on the news. *gag*

    Comment by Delia — June 28, 2009 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  20. RE: “Reagan wasn’t that good a President”.

    Also, Pluto really shouldn’t have been downgraded from a planet. It’s so unfair!

    Comment by Andrew X — June 28, 2009 @ 10:07 am | Reply

  21. OMG — you’re calling Gone With The Wind “racist”??? That pretty much puts “paid” on any further arguments you may ever have about anything, and stamps you as being a moonbat-hurling the “racist” epithet every bit as much as mention of Hitler and Nazi’s engendered Godwin’s law and is now used as a yardstick to measure exactly when the user’s argument totally failed.

    Run away now, little man, and practice your moonwalk to go along with your moonbattiness.

    if you didn’t find the movie with its scenes of predatory freed slaves acting “uppity”, or think the book wasn’t a repulsive romanticization of murderous slave-owning “aristocracy” then you’re either historically and culturally illiterate or a racist yourself.

    Comment by NahnCee — June 28, 2009 @ 10:12 am | Reply

  22. If you liked Jacko’s Billy Jean you’d love my son’s version done in the style of Tom Waites which is a much more credible way of delivering that lyric.

    Having been one of the last people to see The beatles live and actually be able to hear them over the audience I’m an earlier generation of rock fan and the J5 did not really register on my radar.

    So no ttroble agreeing with your objective view. Jacko did not “invent” the moonwalk, it is a move performed by mine artistes since… well as long as there have been mime artists.

    And I have been truly brassed off this weekend by people suggesting Jacko was the first artist to take black music into the mainstream. So Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Martha and the Vandellas, The Drifters, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and a host of other were of no significance?

    Thanks for trying to put Whacko Jacko in perspective. In Britain we have a guy named Gary Glitter who was a great entertainer and made records as good as MJ. But he was exposed as a nonce (paedophile) and after that nobody would touch him. I wonder if the tributes when Gary Glitter dies will be so adoring?

    Comment by Jenny Greenteeth — June 28, 2009 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  23. I have to admit he was a pretty good vocalist and Billie Jean is one of my favorites, but he was no musical genius and didn’t change the face of pop. The way the media is talking about him now you’d think he was John Lennon.

    Yet Jackson pretty much outsourced his music. Thriller was mainly the work of Quincy Jones and a British keyboard player whose name I can’t recall (how ironic). Has anyone seen Jackson sat at a piano or strumming a guitar? Just how much did he know about musical arrangement?

    Yet you take an artist like Stevie Wonder – there’s no comparison. Wonder composed and arranged virtually all of his own music and is an incredibly accomplished musician who knows his notes. He most certainly contributed far more to pop than Jackson and continues to perform brilliantly today (without the success having gone to his head like Mickey J).

    Jackson was a superstar, a celebrity, an entertainer. His albums contained one or two good tracks surrounded by bland, vapid filler that goes in one ear and straight out the other. Some are now saying that he’s been the biggest influence on the music industry in history. Well I know a lot of musicians and am one myself – yet I’ve never once heard a musician saying they were influenced by Michael Jackson. I’ve heard them say they were influenced by Joe Jackson, by The Clash, by Steely Dan, by Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Squeeze….but Michael Jackson? I think there’s a lot of post-death melodrama on the table which is beginning to look and feel a lot like the hysteria which followed the death of Princess Di.

    Comment by JasonS — June 28, 2009 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  24. Thank you for stating what I have thought for a long time. Michael Jackson was more of an entertainer than a singer. He probably was ok in concert but as a singer he wasn’t even close to the same league with Elvis or the Beatles.

    Comment by Stevemmn — June 28, 2009 @ 10:59 am | Reply

  25. Michael Jackson didn’t anoint himself the “King of Pop”. He was given that honor by Elizabeth Taylor and when she said it, she was right.

    Comment by Uranium Willie — June 28, 2009 @ 11:01 am | Reply

  26. Michael Jackson died a long time ago. The shell of a person that the media and fans are mourning is a debt-ridden, freakish, drug abusing, bizarre whitish girlish pedophile (alleged…). Holding a ton of records does not a good person make.

    Comment by MarBee — June 28, 2009 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  27. I agree with everything you said. When someone asked me what I thought of Michael Jackson dying, I said he died 20 years ago. He succumbed to the same temptation as Elvis: he quit doing the hard work of creating and simply devoted himself to playing Michael Jackson. Were the truth known, I’d say 90% of his “eccentricities” were put on for publicity purposes. The sad tale of Michael Jackson is that he betrayed his talent and existed as a creepy headline hound for the last two decades of his life.

    Comment by Tito — June 28, 2009 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

  28. Without looking it up. these are some songs I can remember, he made after Thriller.

    We are the world
    Black and White

    So I guess I could mention some of his songs after Thriller.

    If I look at the CD covers, I know I can find many more, that I like.

    I don’t think it’s very useful to claim that something is universally insignificant, because you personally don’t appreciate it. Especially with music, where individual taste is so different. For instance, I can’t stand Opera. But for me to say that Kiri Te Kanawa sucks is just not very useful for anybody.

    Comment by JL — June 28, 2009 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  29. Yes TruthHound Jackson had manynpersonal accomplishments and everything an individual could want:love, adoration from fans, wealth, honors, fame etc. etc. etc. And he blew it all. His lavish and ostentatious lifestyle finally outstripped even his earnings leaving him vulnerable to his creditors. His refusal to deal with self-destructive habits such as drugs, financial irresponsibility, and sleeping with kids left him vulnerable to illness, bankruptcy, and ridicule. He chose to remain an infant long after infancy was gone. He was, quite literally, terminally self-indulgent.
    For me, the object lesson of his life obliterates the popularity of his music.

    Comment by Elle — June 28, 2009 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  30. I still want to see his face without makeup.

    Comment by whataloadacrap08 — June 28, 2009 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  31. Hwokay…Michael Jackson had no talent and “Gone With The Wind” was a bad movie. At least we know where your entertainment critiquing skills start and end. We shall adjust our expectations accordingly.

    How about you work on our reading skills. I said he was great in the Jackson 5 and I said the movie was racist not “bad”, although do you really think it’s good on any level? The last Scarlett O’hara groupie speaks! You really take that racist cartoon seriously? And judging from the other commenters here, you’re the one whose “critiquing skills” need a re examination.

    Comment by TruthHound — June 28, 2009 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  32. With a few exceptions I suppose, the only people who really went mentally bonkers over the music of [Chopin, Louie Armstrong, Glen Miller, Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson or whoever] were just over the age of puberty when said artist’s music first hit the public consciousness. If you were 55 when you first heard [Chopin, Satchmo, etc.] I am sure you could find some of his music to like, but the mob frenzy of the newly post-pubescent, I am sure it left you scratching your head. Elvis was before my time — and Michael was after my time. Don’t see what all the hubbub was about. But the Beatles hit me just at the right age. Who is there that can’t still get excited about them? They certainly were the greatest and the rest of you have no taste.

    I guess my point is that musical genius builds its house of cards on a very slim section of the population available to give them adulation at any given time. Few can handle the boom and bust. Mozart couldn’t. Nor could Elvis or MJ. Satchmo had hard times but played and played and played as did Tina Turner and, we must admit, even the lesser Beatle, Paul McCartney. Kudos to them for keeping on, and to Michael I will say, Rest in Peace.

    Comment by G. Clarke — June 28, 2009 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  33. I agree with our author: Michael Jackson was terrific with the Jackson 5. “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” were fine albums (the latter is a little better if you don’t hear it 100,000 times on the radio.). A couple of good songs after that — mebbe two.

    But there’s no arguing with taste, so whatever … I don’t think much of his stuff stands up to time. A lot of the Beatles stuff doesn’t either, particularly Paul’s stuff. (I’m thinking Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, not Hey Jude, OK?)

    Bottom line, pretty soon after Thriller, he got really creepy, and that was that. Who cares how many awards you get, anyway?

    Comment by IB Bill — June 28, 2009 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  34. “Gone With The Wind” is one of the best novels ever written, it’s descriptive prose puts the reader smack into the scene, better than any movie ever could…it’s “so so” movie is at least better than the crap that is put up on screens today, what with the vulgarity, nudity and blasphemy…not to mention endless fornicating with anybody who’ll lay still long enough.

    Much of the fiction drivel that sags the shelves in bookstores today are too often written by “authors” whose biggest talent is knowing how to use the word processer on their computer, and possessing the phone number of some publisher.

    Comment by sule — June 28, 2009 @ 4:23 pm | Reply

  35. Reply to #22, not about Michael Jackson, but about GONE WITH THE WIND. The novel, and the film were not racist, but portrayed the plantation Tara, in Mississipi, I believe, before the Civil War. It had slaves – Negroes – which was historically accurate. I do not think that the novel, or the film, were romanticized depictions, but the story of one family, in particular, one woman, Scarlett O’Hara. It is based on the family history of the Margaret Mitchell, the author, as is its sequel. (I suspect that Scarlett is based on the grandmother of Margaret Mitchell.) It is the story of a real family and does not have a standard plot.
    What this has to do with Michael Jackson, I do not know. He was very popular, but I found his face grotesque – although he had been handsome before his plastic surgery – and did not enjoy either his singing in falsetto or his dancing.

    Comment by jw — June 28, 2009 @ 5:43 pm | Reply

  36. The very fact this sad little freak is a subject of public notice at all
    is all that you need to know about America’s “culture”.

    Comment by ehunter — June 28, 2009 @ 5:48 pm | Reply

  37. “Gone With the Wind” was a product of its time – the 1930’s, when the American public as a whole had no problems with depicting blacks in the most stereotypical ways. I don’t think it’s great literature, but I’m rather tired of the trend of self-righteously condemning past generations for not being as enlightened as we noble beings are today. I’m sure later generations will find much to condemn about us.

    One thing that might certainly puzzle them is the adulation given to a 50 year old boy-man who gradually wasted the considerable talent he had and replaced it with weirdness.

    The bottom line is that this is a man who refused to grow up. Say what you like about earlier, racist generations – it’s hard to imagine such a character being a big star in the ’30’s and ’40’s. Americans liked adult stars to act like adults (at least publicly) back then. Maturity was admired by the WWII generation, not endlessly prolonged childhood.

    Nowadays,of course, when you have 60 year olds pretending to be 25, the situation is reversed. No wonder a freaky Peter Pan who lived in Neverland is so admired by so many.

    Comment by Donna V. — June 28, 2009 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  38. It is about time that someone recognized that this carnival freak was not that talented. He was a better dancer than a singer. His costumes were straight from the psycho ward on Halloween night. His behavior exemplified a phony machismo that he lacked in real life.

    The man could not look in the mirror, and for a good reason. He could not stand to see the mutilation that had taken place. He needed psychiatric help, like the fans who adored him. If there was ever a meaningless life this was it. To make that much money and be that broke in the end should tell people something about his lack of character.

    Let us hope that the royalties from the Beetles music will leave his kids something in the end. May they find a wholesome home and a family to live with. They certainly have not had one to date. Theirs is a real tragedy.

    It has been five days now. Is it safe to turn on my TV?

    Comment by rbell — June 28, 2009 @ 6:27 pm | Reply

  39. I thought Michael Jackson was brilliant. He did not appeal to me. I was more into underground rock bands. I’m still that way. Just because you’re popular doesn’t mean you have universal appeal.

    Comment by Pat J — June 28, 2009 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  40. I have sometimes wondered what happened in Michael Jackson’s early life that caused him to go from being a normal kid to going to the far side of bizarre. As part of the J5, he was incomparable. As a solo artist, he was so-so. A couple of notable tracks, but beyond that, just average material. What really set him apart was his totally weird behavior, including at least two accusations of pedophilia and the countless plastic surgeries to radically alter his appearance. And of course, we can’t overlook the now infamous photo of him holding his infant child out over the balcony. While I wish death on no one, I’ll not shed a tear over his departure.

    Also, I find it interesting that the Hollywood/entertainment idiots are going on and on about how shocked they are and how they can’t stop crying about this. These people wouldn’t know a real emotion if it bit them on the nose.

    Comment by jrp61356 — June 28, 2009 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  41. 31. whataloadacrap08:

    “I still want to see his face without makeup.”

    I take it you never want to sleep again without the lights on? lol

    Comment by Delia — June 28, 2009 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

  42. Micheeel Jackson ( his adopted Mohammedan name) was also as befits his conversion or as the Mohammedans would laughingly call it,’reversion’ to Islam, was anti semitic both in privarte and public utterances and also in his song lyrics. Even more reason not to mourn this despicable wretches life.

    Read here to see the anti semitic lyrics and interviews.

    Comment by Realist — June 29, 2009 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  43. The weird thing here is the argument about Gone with the Wind. It’s racist in the way a movie made in 1939 about the institution of slavery would be: the slaves are stereotypical, and act in certain ways. There’s no mention of how cruel the institution was, really, and no attempt to condemn it. It’s also not a very good movie. I watched it for the first time a few years ago, with my wife. She was a big fan of it when she was younger, and so of course I was forced to watch it soon after we got married. When Leslie Howard said something was “Tommyrot!” I just blew up. I have a thing about British actors portraying Americans and doing a poor job of it on TV today: this was more than 60 years ago, and it turns out there’s a long tradition of it.

    Jackson was, or wasn’t, a great singer and artist. I don’t think anyone’s going to draw conclusive answers to that question this close to his death. Clearly he had been in decline in recent years, and he’d acknowledged this by trying to restart his career. His weirdness with children is legendary, though I sincerely doubt he ever molested any of them. I think he was rather pathetically trying to revisit his childhood.

    As an aside, there was an article in Saturday’s LA Times about him and bookstores. Apparently Doug Dutton and the people from Book Soup and a few other iconic LA bookstores had been having dinner together, a few years ago. One of the people at the table mentioned that Jackson had been in their store shopping, and by the time the discussion was over, it turned out he’d been in pretty much all of the stores. Apparently he bought a lot of (brace yourself) philosophy, art, black history, poetry, and even some psychology. Some of the people in the stores talked with him, and reportedly he was very well read, if autodidactic. I frankly don’t get the anger or disgust that people aim at him, though the adoration also confuses me. He was a pitiful mixed-up individual who had way too much plastic surgery, was slightly unhealthy in his attachment to kids, and was (at one time) a good singer and dancer, after a fashion. Why choose today to make a statement about his lack of talent? You may be right; you ought to have waited at least a week or so before saying it.

    Comment by DavidN — June 29, 2009 @ 1:45 am | Reply

  44. About “Gone with the Wind” and Blacks, the book says they were well tretad in Gorgia and it could nbe that in one occasion in the 1,000 pages book it tells that Northerneer “capitalists” treated their white employees worse than Georgians treated their slaves (except that those well treated Blacks we see in the book are house slaves, not normal ones, except that free men may change jobs when they are unhappy about them and except that free men cannot be sold and sent thousands of miles away from their children)

    Anyway Blacks appear only rarely in the book and most of them are portrayed in positive even if subservient tones. The only one who looks to be stupid is Prissy but Aunt Pittypat, a dyed in the woool white, is at least as stupid as her.

    About the movie: have you noticed that the Black who tries to rape Scarlett has a White companion and that she is rescued by another Black? That, if anything it is Scarlett’s husband who doesn’t measure when he rewards her savior with money? (A decent man would have cared for Big Sam’s fate, with money coming only a few days later and after providing him housing: NB, I am not telling Kennedy should have received Big Sam in his house: that copuld have been too much for a Southerner in 186x).

    “Gone with the wind” is certainly a racist novel: racism against Northerners and Republicans. Grant Derangement Syndrome.

    Comment by JFM — June 29, 2009 @ 4:09 am | Reply

  45. Thank you, Ron Rosenbaum, plus all the other dissenters in the comments. This man meant nothing to me. I found virtually no resonance in his music (except a couple songs from the Jackson Five era) or his lifestyle.

    It’s nice to know there are others out there who agree with me.

    Comment by JFP — June 29, 2009 @ 4:26 am | Reply

  46. Gone With the Wind is ever so slightly progressive, in that the only two people in the movie who have Scarlett’s cynical, conniving, selfish number are Rhett and Mammy. Which makes her smarter than every other white male in the picture.

    Comment by Mike G — June 29, 2009 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  47. In her post, # 23, “Jenny Greenteeth,” says she’s truly brassed off by people suggesting the whacko, Jacko, was the first artist to take black music into the mainstream.

    First there is no “black” music. It’s American Music — and Eric Clapton probably has a greater claim to credit for American Music having become the world’s music than does almost anyone else.

    Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Solomon Burke, Etta James, Martha and the Vandellas, The Drifters, The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and a host of other were/are all great: — Americans. And the colors of their skins was/is incidental to that.

    Brian Richard Allen
    Los Angeles – Califobambicated 90028
    And the Far Abroad

    Comment by Brian Richard Allen — June 29, 2009 @ 6:09 am | Reply

  48. # 16

    “Reagan wasn’t that good of a President.”

    LOL – he won 49 out of 50 states when he was reelected. It seems he was doing a few things right.

    Comment by Reggie1971 — June 29, 2009 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  49. I can see with the number of comments that this pilot-fish post is getting the attention you sought when you made it.

    And to those who want more than shock value from their trip here, Off The Wall and Thriller (add in Say Say Say w/McCartney) are seminal works and defining music from their era.

    Everyone has a right to express their opinion though, even when it’s not a very well considered one…

    Comment by MEC2 — June 29, 2009 @ 7:07 am | Reply

  50. It’s called ‘Arrested Development’, a kind of mental illness. As the twig is bent so grows the tree. Something happened to MJ when he was about 8 or 10, something that froze him in the mental and emotional maturity of an 8 year old. He was not a fifty year old man. He was an 8 year old boy in the body of an aging man. All of his extravagance, eccentricity, childishness, all of it are because the media rewarded him for being child-like. That and his wealth, his crowd of servile parasites, his isolation, all made it impossible for him to grow up.

    Give a billion dollars to several eight year old boys and watch them surpass Michael Jackson in strangeness.

    Comment by Wendy — June 29, 2009 @ 7:46 am | Reply

  51. Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar as Mammy, which said to the world that black people could be seen as serious actors. The film, if anything, advanced civil rights.

    It’s always dangerous to judge history by today’s standards. Using your logic, for example, any film depicting Greek or Roman civilization, any Biblical film, etc., is inherently racist unless it fully depicts the horror of the slavery that existed during those times.

    if you didn’t find the movie with its scenes of predatory freed slaves acting “uppity”, or think the book wasn’t a repulsive romanticization of murderous slave-owning “aristocracy” then you’re either historically and culturally illiterate or a racist yourself.

    I’m neither culturally illiterate nor racist, and I can’t take you seriously after making a comment like that. You obviously have a need to label others and your intolerance is repulsive.

    Hattie Mcdaniel: yes those coooperative slaves sure were lovable role models to whites who don’t want to feel slavery was so bad. Kinda warm and fuzzy. I think you continue to prove my point. I’m not intolerant, just amazed that some peole still feel a defense of a slavocracy is not racist. You realize it was made in the 1930s not the 1860s, right? When most people had kinda figured out there was something wrong with human bondage.

    Comment by RSB — June 29, 2009 @ 7:52 am | Reply

  52. MJ is just like going to the drive-in theater (not that many are still operating, like Jackson!).

    There was a film to watch, sounds to listen…then there was action in the vehicle, action all around your car, then up there–in the sky, there was action. It was an experience.

    Sometimes you enjoyed going to the drive-in, and sometimes you regretted it. Most who have been to one, however, do have memories.

    That is where the game really begins, within your world, not Michael Jackson’s.

    He was just a mirror.

    Comment by RJ — June 29, 2009 @ 8:20 am | Reply

  53. I think Michael Jackson was a severely warped and demented individual. I have no regard whatsoever for him as a person. I was not a huge fan of his nor certainly did I ever idolize him. His death did not particularly affect me. I think the non-stop postmortem apotheosizing and memorializing of him is a troublesome manifestation of a vast monumental shallowness.

    However, the fact remains that he was an extraordinarily talented entertainer who made some great music. And to recognize only his relatively banal Jackson Five bubblegum stuff to the exclusion of some of the superb music he subsequently made is, IMO, to reveal an unfamiliarity with his work (the full expanse of which I myself do not know). I admit his great post-J5 work was limited to “Thriller,” “Bad” and “Moonwalker” – which were followed by a lot of pathetic junk – but that hardly leaves us with the sum total of his great talent having been expended with the J5.

    Your question is easy to answer. Off the top of my head:

    “Beat It”
    “Billie Jean”
    (Sorry, but your claiming that only his J5 stuff was “interesting” and then asking if there was anything memorable *after* “Thriller” – uh, leaves out the “Thriller” album.)
    “Bad” (the song)
    “Dirty Diana”
    and, the best, “Smooth Criminal” (which BTW is IMO the best music video ever made – back in the days when there was some art involved in that endeavor. Yes, I know it’s from a movie – ex. produced and choreographed by Michael Jackson.)
    And it is hard to imagine anyone asking your question who has ever seen this breathtaking performance of “Come Together” (with apologies to The Beatles, whom I adore). As one YouTube commenter aptly, if inelegantly, stated, “He set this s**t on fire and made it right.”

    Really now, if you are going to disparage his talent because of the costumes he wore, one wonders what you’d do with Las Vegas Elvis and Sergeant Pepper Beatles. Hey, Michael Jackson was a freak but if that somehow negates his great talent, you’d better also toss Alice Cooper and David Bowie onto that fire. And none of those things is a competent music critic likely to be doing.

    As for the moonwalk, if you are going to reduce his amazing stage presence and dancing skills to his occasional moonwalking then you are simply not being candid or are simply unaware of what he did in his spectacular performances.

    I have to say that your ignoring the existence, let alone the greatness, of Michael Jackson’s talent in general and of those songs in particular, calls into question your music reviewing bona fides. But, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, so I’m content to let it go at our prerogatives for differing opinions. Still, as regards your assessment of those things, I feel compelled to paraphrase a certain blogger, by saying, “…judging from the other (millions) of commenters (out t)here, you’re the one whose ‘critiquing skills’ (might) need a re examination.”

    Comment by Ice Nine — June 29, 2009 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  54. What fascinates me is that the overwhelming majority of people who claim to be severely distressed by Jackson’s passing probably hadn’t given the guy a thought in years.

    Probably hadn’t played a single one of his tunes in over a decade, either.

    Comment by Mike Murray — June 29, 2009 @ 9:00 am | Reply

  55. Never thought I’d have to defend Michael Jackson’s solo work, mainly because I’m not that big of a fan. But if you think that the J5 output was better than MJ’s solo work, then I’m guessing you’re probably of an age where your first high school slow dance was to “I’ll Be There”. Kinda like some of the older Boomers who insist that the Beatles were never as good after “Hard Day’s Night”.
    MJ’s solo stuff is, like his J5 work, good pop music. I don’t get the adoration, but his work with Quincy is well produced pop superior to the majority of his J5 output.
    And don’t forget that after Thriller came the Bad album, which was massive as well. So if you can’t name a song off of it, I’m guessing you were off the pop culture grid by that point.
    Off the top of my head, that album had
    Smooth Criminal
    Leave Me Alone
    Man in the Mirror

    and I don’t even own a single MJ song.

    Comment by ACME — June 29, 2009 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  56. People are actually upset about Jackson’s passing…geez!!!celebrity worshipers really need to pursue a productive hobby.

    Comment by T.S — June 29, 2009 @ 9:52 am | Reply

  57. No one ever proved that Jackson was a pedophile, nor have they proved that he abused drugs. There’s a lot of overmedication and drug interactions that can occur even when the drugs are used as directed.

    Comment by myth buster — June 29, 2009 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  58. Oh, my God! This article is all “HATE SPEECH”!

    Comment by Cybergeezer — June 29, 2009 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  59. I find it interesting that the posts that defend Jackson’s musical abilities post-J5 make exactly the same assertions that are made in the posts that lambaste Jackson’s solo work. Each side makes claim that the other doesn’t know what it’s talking about. This comes down to a matter of personal preference and individual opinion about Jackson. No need to insult (neither directly nor by insinuation) someone who may disagree with your own opinion. Me, I was never a Michael Jackson fan after the breakup of the J5. Obviously he still has – even now – a huge fan following, and for them, this is a sad time. I do not, however, understand the absolute media obsession with this guy. A few token items about Farah Faucett, and Ed McMahon is just a distant memory. And Billy Mays – whose media exposure admittedly was limited to 60-second commercial spots – is probably already forgotten, simply because of the timing of his unfortunate death. But the news channels have become the Michael Jackson networks. I can see this dragging out for a very, very long time.

    Comment by jrp61356 — June 30, 2009 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  60. Sheesh isn’t that good a troll.

    Comment by Pee Wee Herman, Community Organizer — June 30, 2009 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

  61. Farrah Fawcett died and as a good person she naturally went to heaven

    God said to her ‘Farrah you lived a good life so you get one wish’

    Being the unselfish person she was Farrah said’ I want all the children in the world to be safe’

    So God killed Michael Jackson

    Comment by Realist — July 1, 2009 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  62. ‘Myth Buster’ you should change you name to be ‘BS Believer’

    Comment by Realist — July 1, 2009 @ 12:09 am | Reply

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