In between marathon sessions at the keyboard, I noticed that Michael Jackson is once again being sued. Director John Landis is suing the former King of Pop over profits from the Thriller video.
Remember the Thriller video? See, if you're younger than, oh, 35, you may not remember that Michael Jackson was once a super-cool, even GOOD-LOOKING guy who made what is still considered one of the most amazing videos of all time (if not THE most amazing).
Twenty-five years ago, “Thriller” debuted on MTV. It was fourteen minutes long, it was directed by John Landis (a renowned movie director), and it features zombies, a voice-over by Vincent Price, and a kick-butt song by the then undisputed King of Pop.
Jacko was not wacko back then. He was damn cool, and he did something no one else had done to that point. He made a mini-movie out of a video and people tuned in by the millions. I was in high school, and my whole family tuned into MTV that night (though my dad often griped at me about my MTV viewing habits — yeah, they used to actually SHOW videos around the clock, go figure, and I could watch for hours and hours…but I digress). We were, like most people, stunned at the production.
So fast forward all these years. The guy is a major joke now. He's creepy. He had too much plastic surgery, too much bleaching, too MUCH. He's just a sick and frightening joke now, and the allegations about the kids don't help. He reminds me of Thomas Mann's protagonist in Death in Venice, a man desperate to look youthful because he's in “love” with a boy. Ick, right?
What's Jacko got to do with anything? Well, it makes me think of characters. Because no one stays the same, do they? We all change over time. Our background and experiences color us, as they should our characters. Hopefully, we aren't as wacky as this. He had the world at his feet, the adoration of millions, and now he's a joke. Seriously, who wouldn't be wacked out by that? But did it need to turn out this way? If he hadn't gone all nutty at the surgeon's, would we even be talking about this? I don't know, but every time I see him in the news, I remember what he used to look like, how awesome he used to be. Sad.
If you've been living in a cave, here's the link to Thriller. (You Tube doesn't allow embedding of this video.)
Finally, take a look at this performance from 1983. Michael Jackson sang Billie Jean at the Motown 25 celebrations. I remember watching this on television too; it was the first time many of us ever saw the moonwalk, and everyone went nuts. (This performance, btw, is credited with making the moonwalk an international sensation practically overnight.) The glove was new as well. THIS was MJ at his height, the consummate performer. Remember, this was 1983 — every bit of this was innovative at that time.
Are we doomed to get ridiculous as we age, do you think? (Man, I hope not.) Wasn't he just adorable in the Motown video? That's a man with star quality. What the hell happened, right?