Bacground Information on Michael Jackson the artist

Essay by hwladyCollege, UndergraduateA+, June 2005

download word file, 4 pages 3.0

This is background information. Was used for the dance and chorographical piece in a drama class. May be useful to someone.



The most important video from Thriller isn't the title track; it's "Billie Jean," one of the masterpieces of the form. The Off the Wall videos introduced the basic ideas of performance and dance to Jackson's film palette, as well as that can't-be-neglected formalwear -- these elements all appear in "Billie Jean." This video's most significant additions to the mix are supernatural trickster-god mischief; the surprise or shock ending, which will pop up time and again in these short films; supernarrative -- a video story that's separate from the song's story; and cats.

"Billie Jean" also has the privilege of being attached to perhaps Jackson's very best song, and so the video's power includes that weight, along with the magnetism of Jackson's still-daunting, surgically unenhanced physical presence.

But over the song's narrative of Jackson insisting (or, more accurately, trying to convince himself) that an acquaintance's child is not his son, the video tells the story of a paparazzi pursuing, but failing to capture, Jackson, who glides through the video turning everything he touches into a source of white light and then disappearing without warning. The climax of the video is when he gets into and disappears from Billie Jean's bed, leaving the paparazzi without a story and with the attention of two policemen who frown on peeping into bedroom windows.

More fascinating than all of that, however, is the video's technique, courtesy director Steve Barron, which today would seem like an overeager film student's foray into Eisensteinian montage but then was appropriately forward-thinking and groundbreaking. The video's chronology collapses in on itself, whether you're considering its presentation of the same...

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