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Book Review: Behind the Gates of Neverland. Conversations with Michael Jackson, by Ray Robledo and Lori Armstrong.

Behind the Gates of Neverland” (published November 2017) is a book that Michael Jackson fans will devour in little more than an hour.  It’s easy to read, respectful of Michael and provides an opportunity to gain insight into the day-to-day running of Neverland Valley Ranch.  It fits comfortably alongside other slim volumes of first-hand stories about Neverland, i.e. “Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson” by William B. Van Valin II MD and “Michael Jackson In Search of Neverland” by Gloria Rhoads Berlin.

51FFUDQARgLSome things just seem to be destined to happen – and what at first appeared to be bad news for Ray Robledo in 1989 when he lost his job without warning, paved the way for an exciting new job – as a security officer at Neverland.  At first, he didn’t know where or for whom he would be working.  The interview, the location, everything, in fact, was surrounded in secrecy until he turned up for the job.

Then he met his boss, “Mr. Jackson” of whom he says, “There was an undeniable sincerity about him.”

Through Ray Robledo we meet others who work at the ranch, including Marvin and Linda who looked after the animals in Michael’s zoo, and the animals themselves – the giraffe, the lion, the chimps and more.  From the time he takes over care and control of the amusement park, Robledo is told by his boss to “Call me Michael, please.”  And that is when their friendship began, says Ray.

Many of the staff did not acknowledge Michael when he was out and about on the property, and this seemed to bother him.  Ray knew that his boss was happy to have his employees say hello to him.  Robledo suspects that the problem lay with Michael’s so-called “inner circle” – people who thought they were in control of his life, and the staff handbook employees were given that instructed them not to talk to him.

Nevertheless, to Robledo, Michael spoke excitedly of his ideas for new features for the amusement park – like the water fort and the dunk tank.  Robledo writes that Jackson had a human side that was quite simple, “which was opposite to the strange portrayal of him by judgemental media.”

There were always a lot of preparations by the staff when Michael had guests, like the day the Jackson family arrived for patriarch Joseph’s birthday.  Michael had Robledo erect a banner that said, “Happy Birthday, Joe.”  Ray writes “I never heard Michael refer to his father as dad… always ‘Joe’.”  This comes as no surprise to Michael Jackson fans, I’m sure.

Robledo shares his feeling that Michael and his family, or certain members thereof, weren’t close, except for his mother, “but it was none of my business,” he writes, but “I still felt a sense of sadness for him.”

Later, Robledo told the story of his own childhood to Michael and eventually Michael opened up about his personal feelings and about what he wanted in life.  Robledo realised there was so much more to Michael Jackson than even his own family knew.

Anyone well versed in Michael Jackson’s life will have no trouble at all visualising many of the anecdotes Ray shares throughout his book.  And yes, we know he liked his music LOUD!  That included on the amusement rides, it seems.

Robledo relates his memories of visits from Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky who arrived by helicopter, and their subsequent wedding at the ranch.  Ray says Michael referred to Elizabeth as “Liz” which surprised me when I read it, as I had never heard of him using this derivative of her name.  He always seemed too respectful of her to do that, although calling her Liz doesn’t denote any disrespect by any means.  It just surprises me.

Ray Robledo worked at Neverland from 1989 to 1996, which puts his recollections in a timeline most fans are familiar with.  Some dating of events he relates would have helped these memoirs, and perhaps avoided what look to be – in the eyes of a fan, at least – obvious errors.

For example, Ray tells of a fan named “Billie Jean”, an African-American woman who managed to sneak onto the ranch and hide herself away before Ray spotted her.  Her name really was Billie Jean, we are told, “and shortly after Michael’s hit song topped the charts.”

Well, the song “Billie Jean” topped the charts in 1983 (having been released as a single in January of that year) and Michael Jackson bought his ranch in 1988.  Ray’s employment at the ranch began in 1989 after the amusement park had been built.  So, it’s not possible for Michael’s hit song of the same name to have post-dated the visit to the ranch of the fan named Billie Jean.  (Or, perhaps I’ve misread this part of the text.)

Another timeline problem comes with the story of Michael leaving early one morning on his “Bad” world tour.  Details of the tour are provided that read like they could have come straight from Wikipedia.  However, the mention of this tour comes after the story of Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding to Larry Fortensky at the ranch, which was in October 1991.  Michael’s “Bad” tour was September 1987 to January 1989.

Unless we’ve gone back in time from one chapter to the next, and unless Ray commenced his employment at the very beginning of 1989, it would have been the “Dangerous” tour (1992-1993) that Michael had set out on while Robledo worked there.  Later, we read about changes at the ranch and the staff being spoken to about the rumours circulating in the media about Michael (1993).  Then the Oprah Winfrey interview is mentioned (also in 1993).  So again, it seems it must have been the “Dangerous” tour that Michael had embarked on.

I don’t expect a former employee to have all of Michael’s tour details, hit songs and interview dates down pat – but some easy research by his co-author Lori Armstrong and editors/proof readers of the final text would have provided the correct information.

The changes that came to Neverland, and to Michael’s demeanour, following the false allegations that surfaced in 1993 resulted in some unfortunate changes at the ranch.  People were concerned for their jobs now that the “greedy ‘Yes’ people” from Michael’s “inner circle” of “corporate royalty” were running things.  As for Michael, Robledo reveals that “Where there was once a face of joy and hope, displaying a bright smile, there was now a face of utter sadness.”

But the trouble in paradise had been brewing even before the false allegations arose, with some of Michael’s property disappearing and some employees talking to the tabloids for big dollars.  It was no longer a happy or harmonious place when Michael Jackson wasn’t there.  And saddest of all, after the allegations, he wasn’t the same when he was there.

Nevertheless, it is blessedly reassuring to read the memories of one of the former Neverland employees who is so appreciative of his time at the ranch and especially of having known Michael Jackson.  He’s certainly not the only one, but we’ve been subjected to so much tabloid rubbish over the years, one could be forgiven for being cautious at first.  But, I happily forgive errors like those mentioned above when the important message has been put across so emphatically, which is “I had only experienced and witnessed a pure heart in Michael.  There was nothing I knew about Michael that would ever harm his genuine reputation.”

There is a list of Michael’s philanthropic activities over the years at the end of the book, and a list of awards that Michael received for his humanitarian work.  It’s a nice touch in line with Ray’s feelings about his former “boss”.

Review by Kerry Hennigan
14 November 2017

“Behind the Gates of Neverland” ebook for Kindle is available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Behind-Gates-Neverland-Conversations-Michael-ebook/dp/B0752DC9HY

Photo at top by Harry Benson (1993) does not appear in the book, but is used as an illustration only for this review.  No infringement of copyright is intended in its use in this not-for-profit, educational exercise.

 

 

 

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One night in Hollywood – MJ Scream LA, 24 October 2017

To go, or not to go, that was the question I had to answer when I received an email saying I’d scored a priority ticket to the Michael Jackson ‘Scream’ event in Hollywood on Tues 24 October, 2017.

While it may seem strange to many other fans that I might have hesitated for a second, the fact was, my itinerary in the US was already mapped out for sightseeing and Michaeling, and deviating from those plans meant missing out on something I had been looking forward to, in order to return to the Los Angeles area earlier than expected.

In the end it came down to friends – specifically Yoly in Vancouver and Queenie in Hong Kong, and Marge in Toronto.  The former duo also had tickets and intended to make the trip to Hollywood for the event.  The latter had been to see Thriller 3D at the Toronto International Film Festival and urged me not to let the opportunity slip to (a) see it and (b) talk to the Michael Jackson Estate representatives who would be attending.

It meant cancelling hotel reservations and making new ones – both done without loss of deposits, I’m pleased to say (thank the Maker for Hotels.com) and bumping some planned excursions to some other year, God willing.

Hence the evening of 24 October found us lined up at the event meeting point in Hollywood, excited and happy to be mixing with fans similarly keen to make the most of the free tickets they had won for the event.

I am usually wary of large fan gatherings.  With so many different factions in MJ fandom, any event intended to celebrate Michael Jackson can quickly descend into heated discussions on contentious issues.  But on this occasion, that was not the case.  I guess it’s obvious really – anyone who didn’t WANT to be there (assuming they’d had the opportunity to attend) wasn’t.

So we were a noisy, harmonious crowd, following the event staff down the block and across Hollywood Blvd to the illuminated forecourt of the Chinese Theaters complex.  The forecourt, with its many hand and footprints of industry luminaries impressed in the concrete, was covered with red carpeting – with the exception of the two slabs representing Michael Jackson – the one in which his children had pressed his glove (and their hand) prints and the soles of a pair of his signature loafers; and the other the ‘Broken Heart Stone’ that Michael had impressed himself back in the 80s for a Las Vegas project that didn’t eventuate.

These two adjacent blocks were framed, but not covered by the red carpet, highlighting the fact that it was Michael Jackson who was being celebrated tonight.

A light show projected imagery from the new Scream compilation album around the facade of the theatre in a swirl of movement.  The music pumped out and the voices of all of us waiting our turn on the red carpet (for a photo opportunity) rose in volume – and excitement.

Inside, free popcorn and soft drinks awaited us at the candy counter and then we were directed to our seats towards the front of the theatre where the ‘priority’ or ‘fan club’ (as the staff referred to us) attendees were grouped.  So, we had superb seats, and were surrounded by like-minded souls all waiting for the show to begin.

It took awhile to get everyone in and seated.  In the meantime, quiz questions and answers relevant to the Scream album were projected on the screen, along with animated imagery reflecting the album artwork.  This played in constant rotation, interrupted by screenings of a preview of the forthcoming animated TV special ‘Michael Jackson’s Halloween’ which was to debut on Friday night (27 Oct) on the CBS network in the US.  It looked like it was going to be tremendous fun, and guaranteed to appeal to young potential fans – and hopefully most of us older ones too!

Finally the MC walked on stage –  Nick Cannon, himself a huge MJ fan – and introduced the full-length version of Michael Jackson’s Ghosts – which had never before been seen on the big screen in the US.  From the minute the Maestro (Jackson) appeared the crowd went wild; the start of the award-winning dance sequence to the tune of 2Bad sent them into an even greater frenzy.

As a champion of the Ghosts short film, and a lover of this era of Michael’s career, I was ‘over the moon’ at seeing my favourite ‘video’ projected in top-notch quality on the theatre screen.  For me, this was the highlight of the evening – never mind that it came at the very beginning.

We then had a newly composed Blood on the Dance Floor video that incorporated the original footage of Michael singing and dancing with new footage of Cirque du Soleil’s MJ ONE cast members doing what they do so well.  While I don’t understand the need for a new BOTDF video when the original is so great (see my article about it via the link here) I guess every new album release – Scream, in this case – is entitled to a new video or two.  If music video shows on TV don’t want to play the classics, give them something ‘new’ that remains true to the vision of the original.

Finally it was time for Thriller 3D, with director John Landis walking on stage to introduce his masterpiece.  He spoke briefly about it, and introduced some VIP attendees in the audience – the legendary SPFX/make-up artist who created Michael’s werecat character, Rick Baker (‘leave it to Rick to wear a white shirt’ Landis quipped, as Baker stood for appreciative applause against a mostly dark-clad audience) and Ola Ray, who plays Michael’s girlfriend in the video.  Ola still looks stunning, and it was good to see her at the event, happy and celebrating Michael now that her financial claims against him – and subsequently his Estate – have been settled.

Every seat in the theatre had been equipped with 3D glasses in preparation for the screening of Thriller, and while the impact of the 3D was minimal, the impact of the video, and especially the dance sequences on the big screen, was quite the opposite.  Like Ghosts, the cinematic quality of Thriller was clearly evident when projected in the larger-than-life format for the cinema screen.

After the cheers and applause following the show, we stood and talked in groups in the theatre, awaiting the bulk of the crowd to file out and on to the after party in the event venue upstairs.  When we got there, DJ Steve Aoki was pumping out thumping dance mixes of MJ tracks to a back-drop of swirling lights, while high up on the walls, footage of Michael’s videos relevant to the Scream album were played in constant rotation.

The VIPs had their own roped off area, but did not restrict themselves to the space – it was just somewhere to which they could retreat when the press of the crowd became too exhausting – which it was at times.

DSC_0284As reported in the media (and sighted by yours truly) Joseph and Jackie Jackson were in attendance, and well-known MJ impersonator Carlo Reilly made himself available for fan photos and joined Aoki on the stage for one number.

There was free food and drink – and no sign of the action, or the energy, slacking for the majority of the fans who were revelling in the celebrations.  That was the important aspect of the night – it was a CELEBRATION of Michael Jackson.

Whether or not one buys the album, supports its release, is interested in the respective short films or the animated TV special, this was first and foremost an opportunity for fans, VIPs and the Estate to come together in common purpose – acknowledging the genius of Michael Jackson and his art, and the many collaborators who helped him realise his vision and ambitions for some of his pieces.

Despite the volume of the music making conversations virtually impossible, I was determined to get a word with Estate co-executor John Branca.  We were able to attract his attention and he was happy to come over and talk with us.  I wish it had been under conditions that made a real conversation possible.  As it was, we talked briefly about Ghosts – which I told him was my absolute favourite – the new Blood on the Dance Floor video (the song is John’s current favourite – though he admitted his favourites change all the time) and the fact that next year Thriller 3D will be in IMAX theatres all over the world.

John also talked about the plans for Michael’s 60th birthday celebrations in Las Vegas in August 2018.  This is probably going to be the biggest event on the MJ calendar for the year, and one which those of us who are ‘travelling fans’ should prepare for in advance.  It’s going to be HUGE!  (I use that word without intending it to remind anyone of a certain individual currently occupying the Oval Office in the US!)

My friends stayed on to party a little longer, while I headed back to my hotel.  It had been a long day, preceded by an almost sleepless night, and a long day’s drive before that, and while the midnight hour was still about 75 minutes away, for me it was definitely time to call it a day!

One final footnote to the evening that made me smile as I walked past was witnessing Joe Jackson and his minders waiting for a hotdog to be prepared for him by a street vendor outside the cinema.  I guess Joe’s tastes are for more hearty fare than all the free food on offer at the party.

And that, dear friends and fellow fans, was my experience of MJ Scream Los Angeles, in Hollywood, on the night of 24 October 2017.  It was worth the effort it took to be there, that’s for sure.

Story and photos by Kerry Hennigan
October 2017

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Revisiting “Earth Song” and reviewing Joseph Vogel’s revised monograph “Earth Song: Michael Jackson and the Art of Compassion” 2017

Some masterpieces of art – whether created on canvas, paper or audio sound recording devices (or on a stage) – come quickly, with the initial sketch being as good as the work can possibly get without being over-thought or over-worked.  Others are long in the making – the idea is born, but the execution takes place over months, even years, before finally the end-product matches the artist’s conceptualisation of the piece.

The latter case proved to be true of Michael Jackson’s majestic anthem for the Earth, “Earth Song”, conceived in 1988 while the artist was on his Bad world tour, and not released until 1995, on his album “HIStory, Past, Present & Future. Book 1”.

EarthSong_cover-193x300In this 2nd revision (i.e. 3rd edition) of his monograph on the song, retitled “Earth Song: Michael Jackson and the Art of Compassion”, Joseph Vogel reveals in detail how all the elements eventually came together to form Jackson’s musical masterwork, which took so long to come together it had to cross formats, starting on 24-track, and then switching to digital.  Recording engineer Matt Forger recalls that “The detail and work that went into it was staggering.” [1]

And that was just the recording process.  There is a whole story in how Jackson conceived of “the Earth’s song” (as he referred to it) and of the environmental consciousness that was prominent in popular culture at the time of the song’s early development.  Vogel goes into the political and social climate of the late 80s and the shocking statistics that propelled the need for urgent action to combat deforestation, pollution, disappearing species and all the other elements that invariably impact our own existence on the planet.

When the mood changed to one of cynicism in the 90s, and people were less optimistic about their ability to have any impact on the state of the world (or just didn’t care), Jackson kept working away on “Earth Song”, believing it would, indeed, make a difference.

It was Jackson’s nature to feel compassion.  It was also in his nature to give of the fruits of his labour in terms of his time, his earnings, or both.  Much of the new content in this edition of Vogel’s book on “Earth Song” revolves around Jackson’s humanitarian activities.  This information, excerpted as an article in the Huffington Post, is a reminder to cynical critics and the unknowing public that Jackson led the charge when it came to helping others. [2]

While he enjoyed the attention of unprecedented world fame, “indeed, even thrived on it in certain ways” Vogel writes, “[Jackson] also felt a profound responsibility to use his celebrity for more than fame and fortune.  In 2000, The Guinness Book of World Records cited him as the most philanthropic pop star in history.”

In terms of dollars, Jackson’s philanthropy is known to have exceeded $300 million dollars; in terms of beneficiaries, they were hospitals and orphanages he visited when touring and organisations like the Make A Wish Foundation, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, NAACP, UNICEF, the Red Cross and the United Negro College Fund which to this day offers a Michael Jackson scholarship. [3]

There are many more beneficiaries, both individuals and organisations, who benefited from the generosity of Michael Jackson; we’ll probably never know the full extent of his charitable acts.  Awareness of Jackson’s philanthropy makes for better understanding of how “Earth Song” became the pinnacle of the artist’s expression of compassion for humanity, the animals, the environment.  It is an anti-pollution, anti-poverty, anti-deforestation, anti-war message.  It comes with a holistic world view that acknowledges the interconnectedness of social and environmental health and the importance of maintaining a balanced ecology.

As Vogel reminds us, “Earth Song” – despite never being released as a single in the US – became the most successful environmental song every recorded, “topping the charts in over fifteen countries and eventually selling over seven million copies.”  Never mind that critics didn’t know what to make of it; as Vogel writes “Its unusual fusion of opera, rock, gospel, and blues sounded like nothing on the radio.  It defied almost every expectation of a traditional anthem… In place of simplistic propaganda for a cause, it was a genuine artistic expression.” [4]

Critical reaction to “Earth Song” and Jackson’s other cerebral tracks frequently highlights a failing of reviewers to step outside their preconceptions of Jackson as a person and expectations of him as an artist.  Often the same critics who laud his early works “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” as his supposed “peak” are the very same who would deny he could have anything relevant to say in the 1990s or later.  The truth is, they just aren’t listening.

To read such reviews, one is inclined to believe that Michael Jackson, the song and dance man, the Mr Bojangles of the late 20th early 21st century, needed to stay in his niche and replicate his work with each album subsequent to “Thriller”.  Yet, they too would doubtless be the first to decry his work as “stale” if his art didn’t evolve.  This is the conundrum with critics – you’re damned in their eyes if you do; and you’re damned if you don’t.  Best to follow your bliss, as Jackson might suggest, and get on with it.

From the engineers, technicians and musicians who worked with Jackson on “Earth Song” and other projects, we get a clear view of his artistic process, both technically and idealistically.  As Vogel explains “Jackson knew it took time and effort to achieve what he saw and heard in his head.  Some songs could be completed within weeks, while others took months, even years.  He sometimes compared the creative process to an artist chipping away at a sculpture.  ‘[You’re] just feeling it.  It’s already in there.  It’s already there.’” [5]   It was something he felt in common with one of his Renaissance idols, Michelangelo, who could perceive the fully-formed sculpture within a raw block of marble. [6]

Despite a lot of time and creative effort having been invested in “Earth Song” since his initial idea in 1988, it wasn’t included on Jackson’s “Dangerous” album, which was released in 1991.  When it did emerge – as though birthed by Gaia herself – “Earth Song” was “a six-and-a-half-minute tour de force that presented the human condition – and the condition of all life – in dramatic panorama.” [7]

Vogel provides a quote from Jackson which encapsulates his sonic vision as heard in “Earth Song”.  “I believe in its primordial form all of creation is sound and that it’s not just random sound, that it’s music.”  And what music.  Vogel examines the track from its opening sounds of nature through to the epic climax – “that pushes the song to new heights.”

“The chorus cries unfold with greater and greater intensity.  The air swirls with apocalyptic energy, ‘the tumult of mighty harmonies’… His call and response and the Andre Crouch Choir unleashes voices that have been smothered.  With each plight Jackson brings to our attention, the choir reinforces with the recurring chant, What about us!” [8]

There have been other notable songs of protest and Vogel explores examples by Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and John Lennon.  Though memorable – and remembered today – none quite have the power of “Earth Song” – a song that “seeks to shatter indifference, as it demands accountability.” [9]

Vogel goes on to explain that Jackson isn’t merely representing himself in “Earth Song”, but is “acting as the medium for a 21st century tragedy; the struggle of earth and its inhabitants for survival against increasingly overwhelming odds.” [10]

Any examination of “Earth Song” as a work of art cannot, and in Vogel’s monograph does not, end with the song itself.  The video for the track is indelibly linked to the song, as it should be, given what went in to making it.  This part of the book is both fascinating and illuminating, revealing the story of how young British director Nick Brandt came to direct the film and captured the necessary footage to tell the story.

The book’s narrative about filming “Earth Song” reveals much – not just about the process of making the video, but about the technique of the director and requirements of the performer, i.e. Jackson, who always wanted his face highly illuminated “in part to hide self-perceived flaws and in part as an aesthetic preference,” writes Vogel.  Even more demanding though, was the need for a wind machine capable of producing the effect required for the climatic scenes of the video, in which all sorts of dirt and debris is hitting Jackson’s face.

But he keeps on singing and performing.

This commitment of the artist, immersed in creating his art, lost in the performance, oblivious to everything being flung at him, is perhaps a suitable analogy for “Earth Song” itself, as well as for Michael Jackson.  Even after he has left us, (we hope, for a far better place), his anthem for the planet remains – powerful, pulsing and demanding.  “Do we give a damn?”

Jackson’s creative partner on “This Is It”, Kenny Ortega, who subsequently directed the movie of concert rehearsal footage, knew the importance of “Earth Song” as containing the artist’s message to his audience and the world in general.  “Michael Jackson expected ‘Earth Song’ to be the most important piece of his This Is It concert series in London” Vogel confirms.

Live performances of “Earth Song” in the 90s were often misinterpreted as the artist acting out some messianic complex.  Rather, Vogel explains, “Jackson was using messianic gestures and symbols not because he literally thought he was the messiah, but because of what tapping into that archetype could express and communicate artistically.” [11]

Vogel quotes another academic, writer and visual artist Constance Pierce, who explains how the “gesture of passion embodied in Jackson’s performance of ‘Earth Song,’ both iconic and transcendent, burns itself into the collective consciousness of the 20th century.” [12]

“Earth Song” remains (to this writer, at least) the highlight of many concert videos and certainly the most dramatic moment in the “This Is It” movie, impressing on audiences the importance of the message Jackson was determined to impart, and its urgency.  Tragically, unbeknownst to everyone present in the Staples Centre auditorium that night of 24 June 2009, it was to be the final song the 50 years-old music legend rehearsed before his passing the next day.  In that lamentable context, as the parting performance of Jackson’s long career, it becomes an even more powerful testament of his deep compassion.

But the legacy of “Earth Song” like that of Michael Jackson, did not, and does not stop with the physical demise of the artist.  Like all great works of art, it has taken on a life of its own and been performed by others ranging from Andre Reu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra to Tony Succar’s “Unity – Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson”. [13] [14]

Returning to Michael’s performance of “Earth Song” in the video, director Nick Brandt explained to Vogel in an interview that the intention in the climax of the film, where Jackson hangs on to two trees in a cruciform pose, was never intended as a messianic gesture.  He was instead “the voice crying in the wilderness”. [15]

Bear with my flight of fancy here: as a one-time student of Aboriginal Studies, I am familiar with the concept of songlines, and stories of Aboriginal elders “singing up the country” through which they are travelling.  They are following ancient routes (often indiscernible to non-native sensibilities) that were created by ancestral spirits as they laid down the landscape, animals and lore.  “[T]he elders or the trained Indigenous people will sing the landscape and therefore be able to move from location to location through it, and teach each other… but at the same time, they are singing the country into being as they cross it.” [16]

A variation of this concept of singing the country into being is what I imagine when Michael howls into the wind and debris in the “Earth Song” video, and we see the death and devastation reversing itself.  It’s like he is urging us to join him in singing the world – not into being, since it already exists, though in an abused, devastated form – but rather “singing” it back to life.  No lone voice can do it, he can’t do it by himself (as he later reminded us in the Invincible album track “Cry”). [17]    This is not messianic, but rather an act of compassion and self-sacrifice in which we are all called to take part.

Michael Jackson knew that.  “People are always saying, ‘Oh, they’ll take care of it, the government will do it.’  They?  They who?  It starts with us.  It’s us!  Or it will never be done.” [18]

Kerry Hennigan
September 2017

Sources:

[1] Joseph Vogel “Earth Song: Michael Jackson and the Art of Compassion” Blakevision Books, New York 2017.  https://www.amazon.com/Earth-Song-Michael-Jackson-Compassion/dp/1976106478/

[2] Joseph Vogel “Michael Jackson’s Forgotten Humanitarian Legacy” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-jacksons-forgotten-humanitarian-legacy_us_59c7c8d3e4b08d661550436a

[3] http://www.scholarshipsonline.org/2015/05/michael-jackson-uncf-scholarship.html

[4] Joseph Vogel “Earth Song” 2017

[5] Ibid

[6] Kerry Hennigan “The Pop Art of Michelangelo and Michael Jackson as defined by LaChapelle”  https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/2017/03/16/the-pop-art-of-michelangelo-and-michael-jackson-as-defined-by-lachapelle

[7] Joseph Vogel “Earth Song” 2017

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid

[12] Constance Pierce “Lacrymae Rerum: Reflections of a Visual Artist Informed and Inspired by Gestures of Transcendence in the Passionate Art of Michael Joseph Jackson.” Passions of the Skies in Fine Arts Expression.  International Society of Phenomenology.  Fine Arts and Aesthetics 16th Annual Conference.  Harvard University.  May 18, 2011.

[13] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khBs7K42ICQ

[14] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytOIVrqUpYo

[15] Joseph Vogel “Earth Song” 2017

[16] http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/songlines-indigenous-memory-code/7581788

[16] Kerry Hennigan “World Cry and the case for “Cry” https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/world-cry-and-the-case-for-cry/

[17] Michael Jackson quoted in Vogel, “Earth Song” 2017.

Related articles and reviews:

Photo collage “what about Us?” compiled by Kerry Hennigan using Pixlr software, Sept 2017.  No infringement of copyright ownership of the photograph of Michael Jackson is intended for this not-for-profit, educational exercise.

 

 

 

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“Don’t it make you want to scream” – Commentary on a review of Michael Jackson’s compilation album “Scream”

It had to happen.  Once again a critic has failed to grasp the complexity and nuances of Michael Jackson’s art. In reviewing the new compilation Halloween-themed album “Scream”, The Guardian music writer Ben Beaumont-Thomas concludes that “By framing Jackson as theatrically phantasmagoric[al] – a kind of horror movie character – it attempts to deflect our attention from his real-life freakishness. But it ends up underlining it all the more.”

And:

“Dirty Diana and Dangerous, both also included on the compilation, are howls of a different kind – those of a man repelled by his own lust. On the latter he says, ‘she came at me in sections’ – he seems so terrified by women that he has to disassemble them.”
[Mr Beaumont-Thomas obviously doesn’t recognise Michael Jackson’s homage to his idol Fred Astaire’s “Girl Hunt Ballet” from the movie “The Band Wagon” (1953). ] [1]

Ignorant of his, er, ignorance, he proceeds to attempt some armchair psychology, querying:

“Is this man, so famously denied a childhood, having to grasp at film imagery to make sense of how he feels, in lieu of a proper grounding in emotion?”

And finally, this statement:

“By framing these songs together, Epic have further underlined how complicated Jackson was, and further defined him as the strange, sexually fraught person that the compilation is perhaps trying to make listeners forget. The unavoidable fact is that his music was a scream, in every sense.”

Holy shit! Talk about verbal abuse masquerading as a music review! And you thought we lived in an age where we were careful about bullying and name-calling, right? Wrong. (Certainly, when it comes to Michael Jackson – everyone’s favourite whipping boy, alive or dead.)

I wonder does Mr Beaumont-Thomas know the lyrics to one of the songs used in the “mash-up” bonus track on the album? It’s called “Is It Scary” – and it should have been included in total in its original form. That, and the short film (long form) from which it comes, “Michael Jackson’s Ghosts”, is a lesson for anyone on judging people without first attempting to get to know them. I would say that it is also a lesson in attempting to judge art without sparing much thought for what it’s about and what it’s trying to say and what are its influences and historic precursors.  But, others have spelled things out much better than me, particularly Joseph Vogel, who wrote the following article for just such critics back in 2012. Sadly, it’s still relevant.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/michael-jackson-trial-_b_10…

But, I’m not done yet.

The Guardian review of the “Scream” album would be right at home with others discussed and dissected by Susan Woodward in her academic work “Otherness and Power. Michael Jackson and his media critics”. I don’t have an on-line link to the text, but I can at least share my review, which will perhaps illustrate why I think The Guardian piece belongs in the mire with many of Jackson’s other critics who failed – and continue to fail in this case – to come to terms with his “otherness” and “power” as a successful artist and international celebrity, still influencing millions the world over – yes, and still making money.
https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/…/book-review-othernes…/

Also relevant to this discussion is an article by Zack O’Malley Greenburg, author of “Michael Jackson, Inc” who was prompted to pen this piece “Writing About Writing About Michael Jackson: What Some Critics Still Get Wrong” in 2014 after reading some of the reviews of his book.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/08/28/writing-about-writing-about-michael-jackson/#44b920c9520d

Kerry Hennigan
26 September 2017

The original version of this review rebuttal was posted on Twitter via Twit Longer on 26 September 2017 and in the Facebook fan group “Michael Jackson’s short film ‘Ghosts'”

[1] http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eyes/rod_riley.html

 

Academic Essay Review: “Ruach Hakodesh: The Epiphanic and Cosmic Nature of Imagination in the Art of Michael Jackson and His Influence on My Image-Making” by Constance Pierce

When I first read Constance Pierce’s academic paper “Ruach Hakodesh: The Epiphanic and Cosmic Nature of Imagination in the Art of Michael Jackson and His Influence on My Image-Making” (1) I had never heard of the Hebrew term Ruach Hakodesh.  But I certainly understood the concept that it represents as explained by Pierce, i.e. that which the Biblical book of Genesis describes as a “rushing spirit of God over the face of the waters.”  She further elaborates in the abstract to her piece that a “brooding and hovering wind, the animating breath of the cosmos, a Divinely disruptive force of inspiration and imagination are but a few possible flavors of poetic exegesis.”

My first thoughts on reading this was that, with respect to Michael Jackson’s art, “Ruach Hakodesh” encapsulates the connection with the divine (i.e. God) as expressed not just in Jackson’s music and dance moves but also his poetry, especially as illustrated by his piece “Heaven Is Here”, from his book of lyrics and essays “Dancing the Dream” (1992).  This particular poem is one of my favourite pieces from that book.  As Pierce notes, in “Dancing the Dream”, “he revealed significant spiritual dynamics inherent in his creative process.” (2)

paper coverBut why choose pop icon Michael Jackson to discuss “the epiphanic and cosmic nature of imagination” some may ask?  In fact, Pierce is one of many academics now casting a learned eye on the life, work and social impact of the King of Pop.  Pierce lists some of the academic books, essays, articles and courses that have emerged since the artist’s death in 2009.  As to whether being known by a title such as the “King of Pop” means Jackson can be considered “a serious artist of profound and abiding cultural import” Pierce concludes that the answer is definitely “yes”.

In death, as in life, she argues, Jackson remains a polarizing figure.  “An immense amount of shadow-material was projected upon him by a myopic and racist culture,” she writes.  “Throughout his life, Jackson became highly skilled at bearing this shadow-material, aesthetically processing it, and thrusting it back at us (as maligned artists often do) transformed into art.”

Indeed, in the decade of the 1990s, Jackson turned out some truly challenging and abrasive material which remains as relevant today as when he wrote it.  His angry plea for disadvantaged minorities, “They Don’t Care About Us”, is the best known; but there are many others, even dating back to his “Bad” album on which appeared “Leave Me Alone”, his reaction to being tabloid fodder.  In his 1988 autobiography “Moonwalk” Jackson explained “The song is about a relationship between a guy and a girl.  But what I’m really saying to people who are bothering me is: ‘Leave me alone.’” (3)

In a world of regional wars, environmental degradation and apathy towards our own kind and other creatures, Jackson’s art could be a howl of protest (“Earth Song”) or a soothing balm (“Heal the World”).  Pierce perceives Jackson as “a ritual healer, a modern-day shaman”.  Certainly, if one listens to his recordings of “Earth Song” and “Cry”, he is “petitioning the Cosmos”.  The same can also be said of the seldom-heard but equally compelling track “We’ve Had Enough”. (4)

In support of her view of Jackson as a healer/shaman she explains that he “inspired global multitudes to compassion and endurance by lifting their hearts through his art.”  Of course, his compassionate actions also involved donating massive amounts of money to charities, including the proceeds for entire concert tours.  Pierce contends that “Jackson evidenced a lived theology.”

She also uses photographs of Jackson displaying certain body gestures in his performances, and compares them to works by William Blake.  “Though Jackson was likely inspired by a number of figurative painters, William Blake persists in my mind’s eye,” Pierce writes.  She explains that both artists lived in “a world of rich inner myth and revered the state of innocence as personified by the realm of ‘Childhood’”.

Blake viewed childhood as “a state or phase of imaginative existence, the phase in which the world of imagination is still a brave new world and yet reassuring and intelligible” according to Northrope Frye, whom Pierce quotes on the subject.  Michael Jackson, as most fans – and some critics – are aware, had a somewhat idealized view of childhood and rued the “loss” of his own, having worked as the lead singer of the Jackson 5 from a very young age.  Pierce contends that the contrary states of “innocence and experience” are reflected in the words and visual imagery of both artists, and proceeds to examine some of Jackson’s famous poses, such as the cruciform/resurrection pose and the crouched/crying gesture, for which we are given examples by Blake depicting similar attitudes/emotions.

Pierce is a visual artist by nature, and her own allegorical drawings that accompany her essay give form to the emotions discussed therein.  Her watercolors and pencil sketches are not meant to represent Jackson, or any specific individual, but rather show human forms in “archetypal images [that] bear witness to the afflictions of the world, to the turmoil of interior anxieties, and to the ubiquitous consequences of conflict and greed.”

The allegorical images are also intended to bear witness to the presence of ministering emissaries upon the earth, and an “angel” or spiritual intercessor is featured in each of the travails she depicts.  This series of images is titled “Will You Be There” after Jackson’s prayerful song of the same name from his Dangerous album and world tour.

Pierce explains that, as an artist, she harbors “a core consciousness embedded within that is not dominated by the rational, where mystical poetics such as Ruach Hakodesh can flourish, and where my imagination routinely looks toward the cosmos for its creative source.”  It is from this place that her image-making emanates.

Following the death of Jackson, Pierce began to seriously contemplate “the vast emotional scope evident in Jackson’s art.”  She found a cache of startling imagery embedded within his work.

Many of us who are fans of Jackson have responded to that imagery, and to the other aspects of his private and performance persona that endear him to us as, above all, someone who cared deeply and acted on his compassion, even though in pain (whether physical or metaphorical).  Studying Pierce’s essay explains some of the emotions we, his fans, have experienced, why we have experienced them, and feel impelled to respond to his shamanic call to heal the world.

Pierce concludes that “Michael Jackson left behind a vast reservoir of treasure in his wide-ranging oeuvre as a serious artist.  We are the beneficiaries of a legacy of art that is startlingly innovative and revelatory.  In addition, one may characterize Jackson’s art as being spiritually empowered, for his work awakens in us a truer consciousness of our own joy and suffering.”

For serious scholars of Michael Jackson and his art, and its continuing influence on other artists, Pierce’s essay is essential reading.  It is a reminder that true artists, such as Jackson, invariably inspire others to explore and express their own creativity.

Kerry Hennigan
September 2017

Sources:

(1) Constance Pierce: “RUACH HAKODESH: The Epiphanic and Cosmic Nature of Imagination in the Art of Michael Jackson …” The Cosmos and the Creative Imagination, Springer International Publishing © 2016 | constance pierce – Academia.edu
(See “Files 1 of 5” under title to select download)

and “Will You Be There” drawing series exhibitions: The Fourth Art on Paper, Museum of Art, Aichi, Japan ~ Notre Dame College (OH) ~ Seton Hill University (PA) ~ Regina Quick Center for the Arts (NY) ~ Yale University Divinity Library (CT)

(2) Kerry Hennigan “Michael Jackson, Shiva and the Cosmic Dance” https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/michael-jackson-shiva-and-the-cosmic-dance/

(3) Michael Jackson “Moonwalk” Random House 1988, Arrow paperback edition 2010. https://www.amazon.com/Moonwalk-Michael-Jackson/dp/0307716988/

(4) Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins, LaShawn Daniels and Carole Bayer Sager, “We’ve Had Enough” from “Michael Jackson. The Ultimate Collection” http://www.mjtunes.com/modules/mydownloads/singlefile.php?lid=242

Additional viewing:

Constance Pierce: Honoring Dancing the Dream (Watercolor series: Epiphany and Loss) video: https://youtu.be/5oe7TALaTxg

Acknowledgement:

“petitioning the cosmos” photo montage compiled and edited by Kerry Hennigan using professional photographs for which copyright remains vested in the respective copyright owners/photographers.  No infringement of copyright is intended in this not-for-profit exercise.

Book Review: ‘Elizabeth and Michael. A Love Story’ by Donald Bogle

Sometimes knowing from the outset what to expect helps you through the process of reading and reviewing a book. I purchased ‘Elizabeth and Michael’ out of curiosity, as well as love of Michael Jackson and fondness for Elizabeth Taylor, who was one of Hollywood’s most iconic stars. Admittedly I wasn’t expecting to learn much I didn’t already know, nor was I expecting David Bogle’s 2016 publication to be especially reliable as a source on their friendship.

27276460But it was difficult not to get caught up in the spotlight of show biz’s most beautiful glamour couple; and it was interesting to read of the events I had viewed innumerable times on YouTube in the context of the timeline of their respective careers. Not that I was by any means satisfied with Bogle’s coverage of some of these events.

I began by dipping into the narrative at the point when Michael and Elizabeth’s paths crossed, and then entwined off and on through the years. Because I knew most of the public events described, and had read the original sources of some other stories, I could be critical of some of the observations the author makes.  Although occasionally he makes an astute observation that resonates with truth, such as when, on page 332, he states: “Clearly, Joseph Jackson – even at this late date – was still unable to accept Michael as anything other than part of a family affair.”

It’s hardly reassuring when a writer quotes from hostile or discredited (at least in the eyes of the fans) individuals, one or two having been known to admit under oath that they embroidered the truth for financial gain.

Quoting Bob Jones (1) and Stacy Brown (2) was never going to convince me Bogle really came to grips with or understood his subjects. And readers of Boteach’s book ‘The Michael Jackson Tapes’, and Cascio’s ‘My Friend Michael’, could be forgiven for thinking they’d read parts of Bogle’s book already.

This is the thing about ‘Elizabeth and Michael’ – at least the portion covering matters I know most about – that is, the parts involving Michael Jackson: it has been compiled from other sources, some of which have published their own accounts (like the bodyguards’ book) and Bogle has nothing new to reveal.

Moreover, as with most who attempt a biography of Michael Jackson (and possibly also Elizabeth Taylor) they are so indebted to second-hand stories or tabloid tales that their assessment of situations and scenarios is of less value than those of many fans, some of whom really DO know better than what is written by most journalists and who were often closer to and more in tune with some events described in the book.

‘Elizabeth and Michael’ while reaffirming the great friendship between the pair that endured over so many years and through personal pain and hardships, has little that is new to offer the reader who already knows their stories. And occasionally, it drops a tell-tale ‘clanger’ such as when it quotes supposed dialogue from Michael Jackson in which he refers to his friend as ‘Liz’. To my knowledge, he never used this derivative of Elizabeth’s name.

On such a small, but glaring mistake, an entire book can lose credibility, if referencing Jones and Brown and some of the others hadn’t done that already.

Review by Kerry Hennigan
1 September 2017

nintchdbpict000258187781

Book Review – pre-review commentary on ‘Au Paradis avec Michael Jackson’ by Gonzague Saint Bris

When I was obliged to learn French in high school, I never expected it to be of any use to me, and I wasn’t very adept at it.  When I was in Paris in 1981 as the Greenpeace representative for Australia, it quickly became obvious that the locals were not going to understand anything I attempted in their language.  So, I gave up trying.  (And anyway, I prefer Spanish!)

The next time I was in France it was on a day trip from London direct to Disneyland Paris just after Captain Eo had reopened in 2010.  Language wasn’t an issue (as has proven to be true on other overseas Michaeling adventures and in Disney parks) .

Now, some five decades after those high school language lessons, I find myself re-translating Google’s translation of the description of Gonzague Saint Bris’ book “Au Paradis Avec Michael Jackson” published by Presses De La Cite in 2010.

At present I am not aware of any complete English translation of the book, so for me, reading it will be a long process of working my way through with the help of Google and recollections of Sister Mary Angela’s French lessons (God bless her!).  Only then will I attempt to review it.  This article then, is both a preparation and a work in progress.

Saint Bris’ book came to my attention when a fan posted a memorial notice for the author on Facebook following his death in a car accident on 8 August 2017.  The cover art and title of the book intrigued me – and because it had been posted by an MJ fan, I assumed (hoped) this would be a book worth buying.

Now that it has arrived, it presents an opportunity for me to embark on a linguistic adventure of my own.  Wish me luck (and I’m happy for all the help I can get, folks!)

“Au Paradis avec Michael Jackson” [In Paradise with Michael Jackson] documents Saint Bris’ extraordinary experiences of accompanying Michael on his journey in Africa in 1992 during which they had revealing discussions of life, art and philosophy.

The Description on the back of the book, with information I have added for clarification, reads:

‘Do not judge a man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins’.  Thus spoke Michael Jackson during his journey of initiation into the heart of Africa with Gonzague Saint Bris in 1992. On their journey down the Ogooue River to explore the Gabonese forest and meet with the Pygmies, the global star confided to the author his aesthetic preferences, his spiritual choices, his love of history, his admiration for Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci and his excessive taste for the castles of France to the point of dreaming of ending his days in one of them. But Jackson also spoke about his humanitarian experiences, the secrets of his life and the mysteries of his profession, delivering a personal message about his singular search for beauty beyond all taboos.

Who could have guessed that Michael Jackson was a private man of great erudition, who loved reading, loved the writings of Charles Perrault [the French author who laid the foundations for a new literary genre – the fairy tale] and James Barrie [author of Peter Pan], worshipped the paintings of Nicolas Poussin [the leading painter of the classical French Baroque style] and Edgar Degas; the style of Louis XIV, the projects of André Le Nôtre, the music of Pergolesi and the architecture of Jacques-Ange Gabriel?

Gonzague Saint Bris, whom Michael had seen on the TV show Good Morning America, became in this return to his roots for the King of Pop, Michael’s traveling companion in the emerald forest and golden savannah, and cultural confident on his journey from Africa to Europe.  This pilgrimage with Gonzague Saint Bris reveals the real life of Michael Jackson.

Brief bio of the Author based on the back cover of the book (which I have updated):

Gonzague Saint Bris was born in the Loire Valley on 16 January 1948. A writer, journalist and historian, he was the author of forty books, essays, novels and biographies translated into seven languages.  He received numerous awards including the 2002 Prix Interallie for his novel “The Allied Elders of Brighton”. In the U.S, where his biography of Lafayette titled “Lafayette: Hero of the American Revolution” was published by Pegasus Books, the John F. Kennedy University awarded him its Award for Literature.

Gonzague Saint Bris died in a car accident on 8 August 2017.

Where to buy the book: http://www.amazon.fr/Au-paradis-avec-Michael-Jackson/dp/2258084792

It is also available from Amazon.com in the US: https://www.amazon.com/paradis-avec-Michael-Jackson-French/dp/2258084792/

Kerry Hennigan
August 2017

 

Book Review: ‘The 7th Child’ story by Brenda Jenkyns, artwork by Siren

The 7th Child is a gorgeous storybook that retells the Garden of Eden story, the Fall from Grace, and the travails that followed for humanity.  Until, a special child – a magical 7th child – was born who showed everyone how to reconnect with the One wholeness of Creation.

It is clear from the illustrations who this 7th child, this Maestro, really is.  It is also spelled out on the back cover of the book that:

“The 7th child is an artistic expression of the life of Michael Jackson.  It portrays in words and paintings, Michael’s demonstration of the choices we all can make to heal ourselves and our world, through the power of innocence and wonder.”

What sets the 7th child apart is his connection to God and nature as was demonstrated in his art and earned him the title of Maestro.

“The Source from which all Life flowed, was expressed through his pure heart and connection to Truth.  He WAS the Oneness that had been forgotten.  When he danced, he became the music.  When he sang, he became the song.”

Not surprisingly, the Medians, a class of rulers that had arisen since society had lost its Oneness with nature, were concerned about their zealously protected role as leaders of the people.  They were so concerned they attempted to undermine the influence of the Maestro and the respect which people accorded him.

“They started rumours about him.  They told stories that painted him as bizarre and weird.”  Sound familiar – if you know Michael Jackson’s short film “Ghosts” you will recognise this scenario.  It is a scenario that reflected events in his adult life right through to its final decade.

Of course, they did not stop with spreading rumours; the Medians, like Jackson’s real life adversaries, concocted scenarios of wrong-doing (written with sensitivity for young readers).  Even when the accusations were revealed as unfounded, “this cruelty hurt the Maestro deeply.”

51VF3NyZm2L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_How does the story end?  It doesn’t really, if we realise we are talking about Michael Jackson’s legacy.  How author Brenda Jenkyns writes it, and Siren illustrates it, is something you should discover for yourself – by buying what was obviously a labour of love for this Canadian duo.

The 7th Child is a slim, quarto-sized soft-covered book that can be read to children as a morality tale masquerading as fable or fairy tale.  Adults should read it to understand Otherness and Genius, and the 7th child named Michael who was, is and always will be, the Maestro to those who know and love him.

Review by Kerry Hennigan
21 August 2017

Relevant links:

Purchase the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/7th-Child-Key-Creations/dp/151941921X

Brenda Jenkyns author’s page on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Brenda-Jenkyns/e/B00958G430

Michael Jackson Art by Siren Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelJacksonArtBySiren/

 

Book Review: ‘Otherness and Power. Michael Jackson and his media critics’ by Susan Woodward

This slim but important 2014 publication shines a spotlight on some of Michael Jackson’s harshest critics and reveals the depths to which some individuals, publishers and networks stooped to discredit his talent, his manhood, his generosity and his genius.

For someone who is a fan, this can be a very difficult book to read in terms of its content.  Susan Woodward looks at the assumptions and assertions of those who have been emphatic in their published negativity towards Jackson.  This brings the sensitive reader into contact with examples of text that can be considered highly offensive.

Woodward looks first at the words of music critic David Marsh, author of Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream published in 1985; then at journalist Maureen Orth and her “five lengthy articles about Michael Jackson for Vanity Fair magazine” published between the early 90s and 2000s; and finally, Mark Fisher, editor of The Resistible Demise of Michael Jackson published in 2009, and the various authors whose essays comprise that volume.

From her examination of these works, Woodward reveals the frightening power of journalism to influence public consciousness despite, in some instances, a total absence of understanding of their subject, and in others, possessing preconceived notions of the artist that colour everything they write about him.

Personally I have no time for professional writers who do not adequately research their articles and/or make no attempt to “walk a mile” in their subject’s shoes.  Theirs is not even an attempt at balanced journalism.  Admittedly, with the subject being Michael Jackson, there isn’t really anyone who could adequately assume to understand what it would be like to walk around in Jackson’s shoes for even the briefest period of time.  But in most cases, they are not even prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt by attempting a less subjective approach to their subject.

allthingsmichael2Woodward dissects their harshest statements and misconceptions and reveals how they highlight a failure of the critics to come to terms with Michael Jackson’s ‘otherness’ as well as his undoubted ‘power’ as a successful artist and internationally idolised celebrity.

For students of Michael Jackson studies, this book is a valuable research tool with a very useful list of sources accessed by the author in forming her arguments.

For the fans, Otherness and Power provides clearly thought-out responses to some of Jackson’s harshest critics – who, we must remember, managed to get their names noticed by ‘bullying’ someone in print because of his difference, his talent and his success.

That way they could at least get their own slice of Jackson’s success.

“Are you the ghost of jealousy?” MJ sings in Ghosts.  For the majority of the folk discussed in Susan Woodward’s book, I’d have to say the answer is “yes”.

Review by Kerry Hennigan
August 2017

Other Reviews of this volume:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwbooks/article/Susan-Woodward-Analyzes-Factors-Contributing-to-Michael-Jacksons-Death-in-New-Book-20141029

http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/academic-book-review-otherness-and-power-michael-jackson-and-his-media-critics-by-susan-woodward/

Author Interview:

“An Interview with Susan Woodward.” Interview, The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies 2, no. 3 (2016). Published electronically 21/05/16. http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/an-interview-with-susan-woodward/

 

 

 

 

 

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