Michael Jackson: the man that Beat It

“…and Gordon Brown will probably moonwalk into Prime Minister’s questions.”

To understand the cult and martyrdom of Michael Jackson, we need to go back to Thriller, the 14-minute masterpiece directed by John Landis in 1982. Jackson hired Landis after seeing An American Werewolf in London and he told him: “I want you to turn me into a monster.”

That is what happens. It is an extraordinary piece of music-TV and it helped the album to sell 65 million copies. Jackson does his breathtaking dance routines, and then morphs into a lycanthrope, his physical features changing almost beyond recognition, so that what was once charming becomes downright scary. Which is what happened, of course, to Jackson himself over the next two decades. He entered into a kind of abusive relationship with the tabloid press, in which his attention-seeking was matched by their prurience. He mutilated himself with plastic surgery, and the world was treated to stomach-churning pictures of dislocated nostrils and drooping eyelids.

Never was someone so obviously and so literally unhappy in his own skin, and by his obsessional suffering he earned the potential sympathy of everyone who feels doubtful about their appearance, which is a fair chunk of the human race.

And by his musical triumphs, he proved the essential point, that you can look weird, feel weird, be weird – and still be a genius. In one sense Michael Jackson was beaten by the star system, in that it made demands about how he should look and behave which he felt he could never satisfy. In another sense he beat the system. He beat it by writing Beat It.

[The full article can be seen here via the Daily Telegraph]

24 thoughts on “Michael Jackson: the man that Beat It”

  1. Talented though Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye were, they could not even begin to approach Michael Jackson in superstar status. He was the complete package, a dancer to rival Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, and an edgy, original singer, whose vocals inspired a host of imitators. Pharrell, Beyonce, Kanye West, and so many others would not have been stars without the influence of Michael Jackson.

    Overwhelmingly, he was also a hugely creative fashion icon, who set the trends for major designers, including Givenchy, Balmain and Jean-charles de Castelbajac. They followed him.

    In the 80’s, his red leather cropped jacket, the white socks, his loafers, the Aviator sunglasses and the trademark sequinned glove spawned a million imitators. Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye were talented singer /songwriters, but their celebrity did not begin to approach that of Michael jackson, because his charisma blasted them into nothingness. Nobody wanted to “be” Otis Redding, little kids were not dancing in the street trying to “be” Marvin Gaye, like they were trying to be Michael when they were bopping to “Bad”.

    But to anyone with any sensitivity, it was the underlying emotions behind the songs of Michael Jackson that caused his potent appeal.

    As Boris says, he was disgusted with his own appearance and his deeply rooted self hatred caused him to mutilate himself with far too much plastic surgery and this was caused by the mental abuse he suffered as a child and the physical abuse that accompanied it.

    From the age of five he was forced to be a performer by his father, who rigidly disciplined all the boys to perform. Michael as the star, received the worst of this verbal abuse, being continually told by his dad and also his brothers that he was ugly. His dad called him flat nose and ridiculed his looks. He also whipped him, beat him, and terrified him by coming throught the bedroom window wearing a hideous mask.

    If you listen closely to so many of Michael Jackson’s hits, it is impossible to miss this sense of anguish and underlying fear.

    The desperation and the panic in the song “Smooth Criminal”

    “Annie, are you OK? Are you OK? Are you OK, Annie? (repeated over and over)
    You’ve been hit by
    You’ve been hit by
    A Smooth Criminal”. And then in “Thriller”

    “It’s close to midnight
    And something evil’s lurking in the dark.
    Under the moonlight.
    You see a sight that almost stops your heart.

    You try to scream. But terror takes the sound before you make it.
    You start to freeze. But horror looks you right between the eyes. You’re paralyzed.
    Cause this is thriller, thriller night
    And no-one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike.
    You know it’s thriller, thriller night
    You’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller, tonight!”

    What is the theme of the film that Jackson made, “Moonwalker”? Helpless children are attacked by evil bullies, they are kidnapped and cry out to Michael to save them. He tries to fight for them, but being weak, is beaten and kicked to the grounds. suddenly he morphs into a huge iron clad giant, who can fire rockets, like Iron Man and he saves them all.

    This fear and anguish and pleading permeates so many of Michael Jackson’s songs. The original singing style that he perfected, the yelps and cries and whimpering sounds . are just that, cries for help. As he got older, the underlying anguish, pain and fear became harder and harder to suppress. If someone has no-one to support them, in times of stress they turn to things to blot out the pain…

    The most revealing song. if you accept this hypothesis is “Morphine”.

    “Yesterday you had his trust
    Today he’s taking twice as much.
    He’s taking morphine.”
    And the dreadfully pleading tone when he sings

    “Demerol. Oh god, he’s taking Demerol!”

    Academics and intellectuals laugh at the public’s distress over the death of Michael Jackson, but maybe they just don’t have the sensitivity to tune in to the emotional message of his songs. No doubt the distress of the public over the death of Baby P. seems equally unbalanced to these people. The mistakes Jackson made were a result of the anguish he had suffered that resulted in compulsive behaviour he simply could not avoid.

    Nobody saved him from the beast about to strike, rest in peace, Michael.

  2. I do believe it is true that Michael Jackson suffered horribly as a child. His sister, La Toya, has testified how her father would beat her until she was bleeding because of a poor school report, and she also alleged sexual abuse. He would frequently knock his kids unconscious. She said Joe Jackson resented his son’s talent, and Michael had the worst of it.

    Michael appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show and told how he supported his whole family from the age of seven. He was forced to rehearse from when he came home from school until midnight. On the one day off he had, Sunday, he had to go out and canvass for the Jehovah’s witnesses, and bizarrely dress as a girl, because he was so well known, he would have been mobbed.

    From an early age, Michael was forced to witness totally inapproprite sexual behaviour. His brothers brought groupies back to their communal rooms when they were all on tour, and little Michael was forced to witness the proceedings. On tour, his father also allegedly cheated on his mother.

    If you know that you are the breadwinner for your family from an early age, and you are harshly treated, you must doubt that they love you.

    Britney Spears has also been the financial support for her family since an early age, and she has had similar problems with her appearance and with drugs.

    Poor little Britney. All she wants is to be loved.

    They both deserve our sympathy. All they seemed to have been to their families is cash cows and little tax deductions.

    When Michael told Oprah he frequently cried from loneliness, Joe Jackson’s reply was “Sure, he cried all the way to the bank!”

  3. Joseph Jackson is holding a press conference on CNN News and he is hustling his new record company.

  4. I admire the Mayor from afar and there is nowhere farther than where I admire him from but with the greatest respect, his argument that people admired Michael Jackson because they related to him wanting to change his looks and have surgery is a ditsey idea.

    Never in my life have I ever had a hint that this was the reason for the huge popularity of MJ. The idea is totally wacko.

  5. So called super stars such as Madonna would not elicit anything like this response from the public. The only other star of the past 50 years who would command such attention is Bob Dylan.

  6. SKY BREAKING NEWS. Michael Jackson excludes Joe Jackson from his will. Criticism of Joe Jackson’s recent conduct to the media after Michael’s death . Sources are Sky News, CNN News and twitter.

  7. To explain my remark that it is wrong to think that people unhappy with their appearance relate to Michael Jackson, I must explain I know a lot of people who have had plastic surgery.

    Far from relating to Michael Jackson, his is the name whispered in horror when they are trying to decide whether to go ahead with the operation! “Suppose I end up looking like Michael Jackson!” I have heard that every time a friend has discussed a possible operation.

    Michael Jackson, because of the many disasters perpetrated by his surgeons, is anathema to potential patients, and has lost the cosmetic surgery industry millions because of his botched operations. Boris is far too well balanced to know about these these things, because this is impinging on the territory of neurosis.

    The rumours, down right lies and retractions are still flooding the media air waves.

  8. Also, a far more apt example than Princess Diana would be Marilyn Monroe. (very talented, committed suicide, instead of dying in an accident, also had the childlike vulnerability,perpetually seeking love and stability).

  9. When MJ was still alive, people tried to steer clear of him because of the children molesting accusations – even after he had been found not guilty. Radio stations stopped playing his music and it was thought that it’s unfashionable to walk into a shop and buy a MJ’s CD. Remember that ‘singer’- what’s-his-name jumped onto the stage and pulled down his trousers ( in protest at MJ ) while MJ was performing and the next day the press and celebrities backed his action?

    People were hating MJ and his music was not selling well. He decided to go into hiding and stopped performing.

    NOW – MJ is dead and people are busy coming out and claim they know him and that what a nice man he was. Celebrities want to attend his funeral !!! Showbiz columnists are telling their readers to buy MJ’s singles and albums to make them reach no. 1s in the chart and to keep his music alive !!! Even gay Gordon Brown has offered his sympathy to MJ’s family !!! Pass the sick bag !!!

    Admiration to MJ’s always loyal fans.

  10. Noiseur, a lot of the furore over the death of Michael Jackson, I believe, is guilt. Bear in mind, he was found Not Guilty of all the charges of child abuse, and the claimants were discredited in court, the parents were found to be unreliable, and totally motivated by money.

    If Jackson was gay, that’s not a crime. He could have been so horribly confused regarding his sexuality, that he genuinely believed that the relations he had with the adolescent boys were pure and above the sex he had witnessed as a small boy between his brothers and the groupies they ill treated. He openly discussed with Mir Bashir how beautiful these relationships were.

    Michael Jackson gave millions to charity, he supported 40 charities, and he arranged for a huge consignment of food to be airlifted to Sarajevo. These are just some of his charitable acts.

    Noiseur, if you had suffered as badly as Michael Jackson did, how do you know that you would not be driven to behave as bizarrely as he did? Maybe he wasn’t weird at all, maybe his behaviour was just a natural consequence of what was done to him and the pressure of expectation and fame. We all have different sides and he had a huge talent. Who are we to judge someone who went through so much.

    Gladys Knight on CNN said “When he sang, you could hear his pain.”

  11. I so admire Dungeekin’s poetry, but I am hugely relieved he has not written a poem about Michael Jackson. Thank you for your sensitivity Dungeekin.

  12. Dungeekin you are brave,
    your parody you save,
    for political shores at best;
    those who feather their nest.

  13. Alison, you have natural flair! Dungeekin strikes me as sensitive, in spite of his biting irony and he probably knows what a tragic figure Michael Jackson was, so has not joined in the cruel remarks of some journalists.


    In the US, the hugely popular blog of Tina Brown, (The Daily Beast), puts forward an interesting possible explanation for Michael Jackson’s death.

    Michael only wanted to do 10 concerts, because he was worried that he did not have the physical stamina to do 50. He was tricked into doing 50 concerts and landed with huge penalties if he did not comply. According to the blog, he planned to take a minor overdose, to avoid doing so many shows.

    Michael’s poor, shrunken body is to be displayed to the public, before he is buried. What can I say?

  14. You must die first in order to be loved
    You must die !
    You must die first if you wanna be loved !

    Pretenders and hangers-on,
    I say beat it !
    Beat it !

    ( From the poem ‘Last of Summer Wine’ by William Shakespeare )

  15. The negative influence of the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Michael and his family have been either downplayed or totally ignored for as long as the Jackson Family has received public attention. For those readers who really want to know what life is like to be reared in the WatchTower Cult, nothing beats real world scenarios, and of real world scenarios, nothing beats actual civil and criminal court cases.

    The following website summarizes 900 court cases and lawsuits involving children of Jehovah’s Witness Parents. The summaries demonstrate how JW Families rear their children and live life day-to-day. Also included are nearly 400 CRIMINAL cases — most involving MURDERS:



    Excerpts from LaToya Jackson’s own 1991 biography, LATOTA: GROWING UP IN THE JACKSON FAMILY:

    ” … neither I nor my siblings ever led a normal existence, not even as small children, years before celebrity transformed our lives. We were a not-so-typical but classic dysfunctional family. Yes, there was love and happiness, but it was poisoned by emotional and physical abuse, duplicity, and denial. … The proscriptions of my Jehovah’s Witness faith, my mother’s seeming love and devotion, and my father’s inability to express any emotion but anger kept us all entangled in a web of guilt disguised as love, brutality that was called ‘discipline,’ and blind obedience that felt like loyalty. … We couldn’t identify it, but we all sensed something was wrong in our house. Most of my siblings ‘rebelled’ by essentially running away from home to teenage marriages. … I was Mother’s best friend, and the quietest, shyest, most obedient child of all. I surprised everyone. I also broke the cardinal rule of a dysfunctional family. I stopped living the lie and playing the destructive game. — pages 1-2.

    “Thinking back over all those years, I realized that Mother was the guiding force behind the cruelty and abuse. This lady who pretended to be so gentle on the surface had in fact caused all the turmoil in our lives. We’d always thought that it was Joseph, but it was her, telling him what to do and how to do it. Like I’d said to her before, she was always throwing the rock and hiding her hand, convincing everyone — outsiders and my own
    siblings — that she was sweet, kindhearted, and compassionate. Little did they know that the minute they were out of earshot she talked about them very, very viciously. After seeing it so many times, I finally had to face the fact that this was her true personality. — page 257.

    “Michael and I were very active in the Jehovah’s Witness faith. … Five days a week the two of us and Mother studied the Bible at home and attended the Kingdom Hall. … Every morning Michael and I witnessed, knocking on doors around Los Angeles, spreading the word of Jehovah. … As my brother’s fame grew, he had to don convincing disguises, like a rubber fat suit he bought years later, — pages 53-4.

    “… because we were supposed to associate exclusively with other members, Michael and I made few friends at the private high school … We did, however, become close with another [Jehovah’s] Witness. Darles was my first and only friend outside the family, and I treasured the time we spent together. … Each day at lunch the three of us studied the Bible together. She also joined us at the Kingdom Hall. During a meeting, Darles bravely challenged one of the elders. … The elder’s reply was typical. He cited the scripture, which supported his position but did not really address Darles’s
    point. So she wrote a letter … This outraged the other elders. One day Rebbie’s husband, Nathaniel [Brown], also an elder, cornered me. ‘LaToya,’ he said, ‘you’re never allowed to speak to Darles again. Ever. … She’s been disfellowshipped.’ … After that neither Michael nor I had anything to do with Darles. We missed her so much and for the first time began to privately reconsider some of the [WatchTower Society’s] teachings. We felt that questions should be encouraged, not silenced through threats of disfellowship. — pages 55-56.

    “Mother … frowned on our socializing with white kids, an attitude I found hypocritical coming from a Christian. — page 34.

    “… both my parents harbor racist attitudes, particularly against Jews, … ‘Wherever you go, whatever you do in this business, you find a Jew,’ Mother used to complain bitterly all the time, ‘I can’t stand it.’ … She’d go on and on. ‘They’re always on top. Jews are so nosy. They like controlling you. I hate ’em all.’ To their faces, however, my mother was as sweet as could be. … Hearing talk like this turned my stomach, especially when it came from my mother’s mouth. How could a religious woman be so hateful? … The depth of Mother’s loathing was expressed in one of her oft-repeated opinions: ‘There’s one mistake Hitler made in his life — he didn’t kill all those Jews. He left too many dxxx Jews on this earth, and they multiplied,’ –pages 132-4.

    “On the Victory tour, … , [Michael] hired someone whose sole task was to locate a Kingdom Hall in each town so that Michael wouldn’t miss a single meeting. … Michael … won those record-breaking eight honors at the 1984 Grammy Awards. The very next morning one elder issued him an ultimatum that my brother must choose between music and the [Jehovah’s Witness] religion. … Because Michael diligently studied the Bible, he could usually cite chapter and verse supporting his contention that entertaining people was not wrong. ‘I’m still living according to the [WatchTower Society’s] teachings,’ he pointed out, as he’d done so many times before. I still go door to door wherever I am, even if I’m on tour. I can’t help it if people hang up my poster on their wall or tear my picture out of a magazine. I don’t ask them to idolize me. I only want them to enjoy my music.’ … many Jehovah’s Witnesses used to congregate outside the Kingdom Hall hoping to catch a glimpse of Michael Jackson,
    knowing full well this kind of adulation was forbidden. Michael did everything humanly possible to demonstrate his dedication to Jehovah. Once when an elder criticized, ‘Your movements on stage suggest sex; don’t do them anymore,’ my brother complied without protest and promptly changed the routine. He also invited an elder on tour to see for himself that he lived in harmony with all the [WatchTower] faith’s rules, canvassed door to door, and attended all the meetings. … One day I walked into Janet’s room to find Michael crying his eyes out. ‘LaToya, … I can’t talk to you ever again. … The elders had a big meeting, and they told me never to speak to you because you haven’t been coming to the Kingdom Hall. … they said that if I don’t stop talking to you, they’ll kick me out of the religion.’ … Michael decided to disobey the elders’ edict and after that never attended any more meetings. … he subsequently severed his ties to the organization through a formal letter. What made this painful episode even more agonizing was that for a long time I believed Michael might be one of the Remnant, the select 144,000. — pages 196-200.

  16. OH, I SAY!

    And hangers-on
    Oh, I say!

    Do I know yown?
    So why are you crying over me?!
    Didn’t Queen Mandy Latifa tell ya –
    “Don’t tell them you watch The X-Factar!”
    Don’t cry for me
    I can’t save your job!
    I can’t make ya popular!
    Don’t cry
    Save your time
    Go save the world!
    You pretender, hanger-on,
    I’m the fart in your face,
    The flea in your socialist bushy growth
    Down below!

    Tarmac Obama,
    Do I know ya?
    So why are you crying over me?!
    Don’t cry for me!
    Save your energy-
    Make your wife pregnant
    To prove ya are ” all man “! ***
    That’s what she said
    That’s what she wants
    You pretender, hanger-on,
    I’m the fart in your face,
    The flea i your curly growth
    Down below!

    David ‘Dave’ Kangaroo,
    Do I know you?!
    So why are you crying over me?!
    Don’t cry!
    Save your time-
    Go clear your Wisteria
    You pretender, hanger-on,
    I’m the fart in your face,
    The flea in your posh bushy growth
    Down below!

    And hangers-on
    Oh, I say!
    Do I know yous?!

    I must go…
    I must go…
    ( disappear through a brick wall… )

    Mr Bialystock

    ** Latest gossips in the tabloid press: As Tarmac O’s former boyfriends talking to the press, Shell was so angry that she told her friends that she hoped to get pregnant again to ‘ show them that her man is all man ‘.

  17. OH, CARLA !

    Carla Creme Brulee,
    Do I know yee ?
    No !
    So why are you crying over me ?
    Don’t cry !
    Save time-
    Go to Pisa
    Order platform shoes for Papa !

    “Michael was an amazing human being !”
    “He was awesome !”
    “He healed the world !”
    Oh, I say !
    Had you said that after the court,
    I wouldn’t have done a Greta Garbor,
    Would I ?
    Would I ??
    WOULD I ???

    You, Shell and frumpy Sarah
    Are not welcome to my SHOW !
    Who knows-
    3 wally musketeers turned oop
    Wearing 3 purple PRIM_RK Che-berets (*)
    Would drive the mourners away
    And make me hit the wooden roof ?!

    Don’t cry for me !
    I can’t help you
    Shift your shedload of crap CDs !

    Carla Creme Brulee,
    You pretender, hanger-on,
    I’m the fart in your face
    But never a flea in your… barely there
    Down there!
    ( giggle, giggle )

    I must go…
    I must go…
    ( rise above Papa in 1/1,000 second as Papa is not a very tall man )

    (*) Self-censored for commercial reasons. No free ads here, please.

  18. Fame turns us all into egotistical monsters. I, myself, have not been the same since they gave me those new spangly shorts – and the gold lame jacket and – oooooh that new red tricycle! VROOM bl**dy VROOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Apparently the subject of the funeral of Michael Jackson has become a battleground for his family. On one side is his mother Katherine, who wants the funeral to be a spiritual occasion, and on the other side the four Jackson brothers and their Dad who see the money making potential. They are charging for the tickets to the funeral. They wanted to display him in an open casket and charge for that. The four Jacksons also wanted to perform in memory of Michael, but KAtherine Jackson, La Toya and Janet are fiercely against all this.

    Le plus ca change…….

  20. WHO IS WHO ?

    A long list of “who is who” –
    “Politicians” and “celebrities”
    Crying over me!

    Who is who?
    Do I know yous?
    So why are yous crying over me?!

    And hangers-on
    Oh, I say!

    Call yourselves politicians
    And fiddling your allowance?!
    Call yourselves celebrities
    Really yous are all Ds!
    Do I know yous?!
    So why are yous crying over me?!

    Don’t cry!
    I can’t save your face
    Nor can I boost up your grade!

    “Michael was ever soooo nice!”
    On your bike!
    “I loooooved his Fedora hat!”
    Pass the sick bag!
    Oh, I say!

    And hangers-on
    I’m the fart in your face,
    The flea in your bushy growth
    Down below!
    To teach yous a lessame
    For attempting to live off me fame
    Have yous no shame?

    Don’t cry!
    Tune in tomorrow
    To watch my SHOW
    From Los Angeles

    I must go…
    I must go…

  21. ” DIDN’T GORDON WANT TO PLAY WITH YOUR PALS, TOO, SARAH? ” screams the headline!

    Frumpy Sarah is soooo busy these days – went to Glastonbury Music Festival with Naomi Campbell to promote… motherhood (!!!) in front of about 175,000 MUSIC fans !!!! Then last Saturday; 2 days ago, went to the London Gay Pride march, too – in an attempt to win 3 million pink votes, obviously!

    Gordon-Elizabeth-Who-Ate-All-The-Pies-Brown was absent from the Gay Pride march for… ” security reasons ” (!!!).

    Who advised Frumpy Sarah to do all these comical public appearances? I’m sure it must have been Queen Mandy Latifa himself.

    Gordon and Mandelson didn’t go the the gay march because they didn’t want to seen as gay men and to provide unsavoury headlines in the papers the next day. Meaning, to them, being gay is still a shameful thing.

  22. When he was alive, people never said anything nice about Mike. But now he has popped his clogs, they all want to be his friends. It’s comforting for Mike to know that now he has so many friends – more than you could ever make on any social networking sites. Rest in peace, Mike!

    To the nose-browning politicians and rubbish celebrities, having Michael Jackson fart in their face daily is an honour. We working class people don’t have that honour, do we?

    As for Sarah Brown going to London Gay Pride Annual March- she had never ever gone to any Gay Pride marches before, why now? She could have invited Peter Mandelson over to her home to join Gordon and have her own march at home.

    She had never ever gone to any Glastonbury music festivals before, why now? If she wants to promote motherhood, she should go to nursing homes and do her talk there.

    So she thinks she has secured 175,000 votes from Glastonbury fans plus 3 millions votes from gays and lesbians for Gordon. It looks like there will be a landslide onto No 10 building next year. Her domestic staff should run out fast if they don’t want to be buried under rubbles.

  23. Never was someone so obviously and so literally unhappy in his own skin

    Boris; You never cease to amaze me.

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