MJ: The Man in the Mirror Analyzed

By Zulu, Itibari M. | Journal of Pan African Studies, March 30, 2010 | Go to article overview

MJ: The Man in the Mirror Analyzed


Zulu, Itibari M., Journal of Pan African Studies


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Welcome to our special issue on Michael Joseph Jackson (1958-2009). Michael Jackson is one of the most widely beloved entertainers and profoundly influential artists of all-time; he leaves an indelible imprint on popular music and culture.

Five of Jackson's solo albums--"Off the Wall," "Thriller," "Bad," "Dangerous" and "HIStory," all with Epic Records--are among the top-sellers of all time and "Thriller" holds the distinction as the largest selling album worldwide in the history of the recording industry with more than 70 million units sold. Additionally, singles released from the "Thriller" album sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, another all time record.

During his extraordinary career, Michael Jackson sold an estimated 750 million records worldwide, released 13 No.1 singles and became one of a handful of artists to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Jackson as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time and "Thriller" as the Biggest Selling Album of All Time. Jackson won 13 Grammy Awards and received the American Music Award's Artist of the Century Award. Michael Jackson started in the music business at the age of 11 with his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5. In the early 1980s, he defined the art form of music video with such ground-breaking videos as "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and the epic "Thriller." Jackson's sound, style and dance moves inspired subsequent generations of pop, soul, R&B and hip-hop artists (www.michaeljackson.com: accessed November 7, 2009).

The aim of this edition is to demonstrate that the life and work of Michael Jackson (MJ) is worthy of serious scholarly discussion, and that in addition to the work in this issue, more research need to be conducted on the particulars of his special contributions to humanity.

To begin, we have Michael Jackson's first public lecture presented in March 2001 at Oxford University (Oxford, U.K.) which I've titled "Love: The Human Family's Most Precious Legacy" whereupon he says "Human knowledge consists not only of libraries of parchment and ink--it is also comprised of the volumes of knowledge that are written on the human heart, chiseled on the human soul, and engraved on the human psyche", among other profound insights, to declare his concern for the planet and all living things.

Second, Susan Hidalgo and Robert G. Weiner of Texas Tech University (Lubbock, Texas) introduce a bibliographic guide to MJ in scholarly literature with content on the breadth of Jackson's influence. Thus, they provide scholars with a place to start exploring the world of the "King of Pop" in academic literature.

Julian Vigo of the Universite de Montreal critiques Margo Jefferson's study (On Michael Jackson. New York: Pantheon Books, 2006) of Michael Jackson and suggests that in reading Jackson's body, it goes far beyond dance and approached the realm of somatic change which included a blurring of the lines between male and female, between black and white and between human and animal. This MJ was sexless as he interpreted the roles of both man and women; his sexuality was represented as either non-existent or hyper-active, between the media sensationalism of his not possessing sexuality whatsoever. …

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