The Michigan Daily - WtI/dz , e. - Thursday, December 7, 1995 - 7
Jackson makes 'History' in live concert broadcast
By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Without question, no black artist has
had as much of a love-hate relationship
with the public than pop star Michael
Jackson. During his long career-now
traveling into its third decade - Jack-
son has angered residents of his home-
town of Gary, Ind. for his refusal to
come back to his roots and support a
city which supported him and the other
members of the Jackson 5. He's con-
tinually pissed off the African-Ameri-
can community with his nose jobs, at-
tempting to look more "Western Euro-
pean." His most recent "makeover" has
us all wondering, is he "Black or
Ever since his "Jew me, sue me" line
in "They Don't Care About Us," Jack-
son hasn't been held in high esteem by
members of that community, either.
The only musician who could ever be
seen as Jackson's musical equivalent
- the artist formerly known as Prince
- hates him. And it's a sure bet that
Elvis isn't too fond of him at this mo-
But, even more so than being de-
spised, Michael has been the focus of
unlimited gossip, accusations and far-
fetched rumors. He's been ridiculed
just because. Remember the talk about
his oxygen chamber? His supposed ro-
mantic trysts with Brooke Shields, Liz
Taylor and his monkey, Bubbles? Or
what about the rumors that Jackson
takes estrogen pills to keep his voice
high? And the laughs we had about him
and those damn elephant man bones?
Oh, and what about the time his Jheri
Curl hairdo caught on fire during Pepsi
There have been enough adjectives
attached to Jackson's name to make
anyone go mad. But for some strange
reason this allegedly homosexual, psy-
chotic, anti-Semitic, pedophiliac of a
singer continues to produce chart-top-
ping hit after hit, raking in millions (or
is that "billions" now?) and performing
at sold-out concerts where men and
women cry, faint, have heart attacks or
otherwise lose their minds. For a man
whose defining characteristics are his
new racial category (of which he's the
only member) and continues to wear a
black sport coat/pants/shoes suit and
white socks, commanding so much
worldly wealth, power and admiration
Let's admit it, Michael Jackson is
still an amazingly popular singer. And,
even if he's offended you in some way,
you still have a bit of grudging respect
for his musical prowess. If someone
started playing one of his old-school
jams like "The Way You Make Me
Feel," "Thriller" or "Wanna Be Startin'
Sunday, Dec. 10 at9p.m.
What: A once-in-a-lifetime chance
to see the moonwalking wonder
perform a live, televised concert.
Somethin"' you know that you'd be up
right now jammin'.
But while the Michael of years gone
by received a fair amount of criticism,
it the Michael of today - the Jackson
of "Dangerous" and "HIStory" - who
has garnered the most ire.
Why? Simply put, Jackson has
changed. I'mnot talking about the physi-
cal changes; that's been talked about
enough. I'm talking about the fact that
in the past, Michael has always struck
his fans as being this small, frail, sensi-
tive, feminine, asexual tyke whose most
masculine song ever was probably
"Bad." (Yet, hearing a soprano voice
singing "I'm bad!" while two "gangs"
dance around and do pirouettes doesn't
exactly strike images of sweaty, mus-
cular hunks.) Michael was also so car-
ing about his fans, singing songs like
"Man In the Mirror" and "Heal the
World," asking everyone to love and
respect one another.
Lately, Michael Jackson seems to
have acquired a much more self-cen-
tered edge. Did'you see the television
advertisement concocted for his latest
"HiStory" album? In the promo, Jack-
son is hailed as the best thing to happen
to the world since god. Everywhere he
goes he's followed around, not by secu-
rity guards, but by military troupes. We
see teary, screaming fans hoping to just
touch the hem ofhisgarments. And, in the
end, wesee him standbefore astatue of...
himself. (Orshould that read "Himself?")
This is the same statue we see - like the
eighth wonder of the world - on the
cover of his two-CD album.
Now, we basically have what seems to
be a more self-serving Michael Jackson
proclaiming to the world, "Ya'll know
I'm the man. But, I thought I'd remind
you just one more time. Yup, I'm the
man." Whatever happened to the sweet
M.J. who let children visit his personal
zoo and carnival, who spearheaded the
creation of "We Are the World" to raise
millions for impoverished African na-
tions, who visited teenaged AIDS victim
Ryan White before he died? He's turned
more cocky, more uppity. Jackson's just
not as lovable anymore.
He also seems angry. (I guess that
would make him one of your typical
angry white males. Hee hee.) While his
angriest songs from the past were prob-
ably best represented by cuts like "Billie
Jean" (whose video had him so mad at
this girl for saying that kid is his that he
made sidewalks light up), in many of
his more current songs, Michael ex-
presses a type of personal rage at
people's treatment of him overthe years
that we've never heard before.
And we're not comfortable with. So
we don't like him anymore.
Yet Michael Jackson is no dummy.
You don't make it in the music business
for three days, let alone 30 years, by
being a dummy. He's a politically
shrewd person. Jackson has taken ad-
vantage of the songs he wrote in disk
two of "HIStory" to both push some
political messages and hinting at some
personal grudges. Consider the follow-
"Scream" (duet with baby sister
Janet): Here we have a highly irate
Mike/Jan duo screaming at us to "stop
pressuring me." But, in case you don't
get it, he also warns you to "stop fuckin'
"They Don't Care About Us": This is
the song which made Jackson infamous
for his "Jew me" line. It's an interesting
fact that the father who first accused
Jackson of child sexual abuse is Jewish.
Attack of the person or the denomina-
"This Time Around": Mike ain't
takin' nothin'. Acting like your classic
psychotic suffering from paranoia, Mike
says unknown enemies are waiting and
scheming togethim. Notorious B.I.G.'s
guest appearance heightens the con-
Earth Song: A return to the times of
"Heal the World." I bet Mother Earth
thinks Michael's not all that bad.
"Money": If you dig beneath the fa-
cade of Michael attacking the greedy in
general, you can quickly see that this
song is another well-planned smack in
the faces of the parents who promised
to "forgive" Michael's alleged child
abuse in exchange for some money,
dough, green, dividends.
"You Are Not Alone": A love song
which reminds us that Michael still
knows how to make the ladies shudder.
You can act like you don't like him, but
if he were to say one word to you, you
know you'd probably faint.
"Childhood": Many are familiarwith,
and sympathetic to, the allegations that
Michael's dad, Joe, was abusive and
that Michael is very much like a child
today because he never truly had a
childhood. Michael exploits this, hint-
ing at unspoken hardships he had to
overcome and cautioning, "Before you
judge me, try hard to love me. Look
within your heart; then ask have you
seen my childhood"?
"Tabloid Junkie": Afterdecades with-
out responding to attacks on his charac-
ter (minus interviews with Oprah and
Diane Sawyer), Michael takes his own
pot-shot at the media and those who
digest whatever it says about him say-
ing, "Just because you read it in a maga-
zine and see it on a T.V. screen don't
make it factual."
Despite his questionable appearance, Michael Jackson is still "the man."
"Little Susie": After a seemingly end-
less opening of music that only Pope
John Paul II and Mother Theresa could
jam to, we get a slow song focusing on
a little girl who was constantly abused
and eventually killed. This heartbreak-
ing song - complete with what seems
to be some sincere M.J. singing-talks
about those who saw the signs of her
abuse but kept quiet. All he can say, in
an almost cracking, tear-inducing voice
to those holding little Susie's body is
"Lift her with care, with blood in her
hair." After listening to this song, no
one would dare say Michael's a cold-
blooded child abuser; he loves and cares
about all children as if they were his
See? Told you he's no dummy. Jack-
son has a shrewd way of carving his
music to the tune of public specula-
tion about him. Anticipating attacks,
he almost seems to welcome them.
and, in some musical way, defends,
himself from them. Why else would
the first single released after his sur-
prise skin-color change be "Black or
White?" Why would, amidst growing.,
speculation and stand-up comics
jokes about his marriage to Mrs. Lisa
Marie Presley-Jackson, would he
come out with the lovely tribute to her,
"You Are Not Alone?"
Nevertheless, people will continue to
despise Michael Jackson, even as he
prepares to perform a one-time, live
concert on HBO this Sunday at 8 p.m.
But, the reality is that the concert will.
be a success, and the ones who claim to
despise him the most will be the first to
turn on the tube to see and hear him.
After all, for better or for worse, for
richer or for poorer, he's still Michael.
Jackson. And he's still the man.
Hallmark tels story of an incredible Journey'
The Washington Post
A+Hallmark Hall of Fame story has
a certain imprimatur guaranteeing
quality: superior production values;
beautiful, even sometimes breathtak-
ing cinematography; evocative, often
It's almost always a family-oriented
story with much feeling. "Journey,"
airing Sunday night on CBS, is such a
production, Hallmark's 185th story
and the initial entry for its 45th sea-
son. The film is so lovely, in fact, that
certain scenes might well be still lifes
created by a painter or photographer.
That is, if you stay with it. And
viewers with short attention spans sim-
ply won't. That will be their loss.
Like a lot of Hallmark productions,
"Journey" gets off to a slow begin-
ning as it lays the groundwork for the
story of a boy named Journey. The
first half-hour may have less dialogue
than any television movie you've seen
The tale is from a children's book
by Patricia MacLachlan, whose
Newbery Award-winning "Sarah,
Plain and Tall" and its sequel, "Sky-
lark," became Hallmark movies in
1991 and 1993 that starred Glenn
Close. Close and Richard Welsh are
executive producers of "Journey."
In addition to preparing a second
sequel for "Sarah," MacLachlan is
writing "Baby," about a child left on
a family's doorstep.
"It's another family thing," she said.
"I seem to write the same story over
Both are scheduled to become mov-
ies, again with Close as executive
'I trust her judgment," MacLachlan
said, "and I trust the Hallmark people,
who don't seem to care that I write
books that don't have a lot of plot.
This was difficult (to film) because it
ws a very internal book."
'Journey" is a story about love lost
and love found - or at least appreci-
ated. It is a story about understanding
and forgiving, about letting go and
gqing on, about picking up the pieces
and rebuilding a family. Some of that
can be painful.
Max Pomeranc, who starred in
"Searching for Bobby Fischer"
(1993), plays the boy Journey, who
because I can say these words."'
She considered that a compliment.
MacLachlan said her story of a
family's coming apart and then reform-
ing had its origin in aquestion by achild
who had read "Sarah, Plain and Tall,"
the story of a widower from the Great
Plains with two children and a woman
from New England who goes west to
marry him. The child asked Mac Lachlan
whether the concept of "family" re-
quires both a mother and a father.
"I think nowadays there's no one
definition for 'family,"' she said. "So
many kids today aren't part of what we
traditionally think of as a 'family."'
MacLachlan said that she is inter-
ested in the importance of nurturing in
a family. "When a writer writes, she
takes from the things around her. I have
a lot of people like this in my life who
are great, nurturing people," she said.
Among them are her son John, who
works in Africa with primate researcher
Jane Goodall and sends his mother pic-
tures of the orphaned baby chimpan-
zees he cares for. MacLachlan, who has
no grandchildren, said she affixes the
pictures to her refrigerator and greets
them each morning.
"I think it's this that I like best in my
children-nurturing, passing it along,"
she said. "That's what happens in the
The Daily Arts
staff says "Have a
nice vacation ...
Now get out of
here! AUl of You!"
Max Pomeranc (above, right in "Searching For Bobby Fisher") plays Journey.
learn to be a better father than he was
to Min. Journey also learns that things
aren't always perfect. Still, they'll be
"good enough," his understanding
grandfather assures him.
As you watch the story play out, keep
in mind a coincidence: When Robards
was only 6, his mother left the family,
Like Journey, young Robards held out
hope that his mother would return, or at
least visit. He was angry, he said. He
blamed himself, He turned on others
who loved him. Eventually his father
remarried, and Jason Robards and his
brother had a loving stepmother who
cared for them.
MacLachlan said she was very
pleased with the actors who brought her
book to life, andparticularly with Tilly's
portrayal ofMin, a difficult character to
"I think Meg Tilly brought this whole
new depth to this character," she said.
"She understood her. I never wanted
her to be a villain. So I owe her a great
MacLachlan also said that young
Pomeranc did a good job portraying
Journey, a character his own age, 11.
"I like little Max," she said. "He has
those great big eyes, and he can look
sadder than anyone I've ever seen."
MacLachlan, who also wrote the
movie's script, said a remark by young
Pomeranc stuck in her mind: "He said
to his mother, 'I'd like to do this script,
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