Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Way You Make Us Feel

As you may have noticed, Bitch, please has been on something of a summer hiatus.

But we're back and more opinionated than ever!

This being the day of MJ's memorial I thought it was only right that this return post be something of a tribute to Michael.

Say what you will about Michael Jackson (and there really are so many different aspects about him, and hey, please feel free to comment), this performer truly broke racial boundaries. It's as though he saw the line, considered it for a second, and then just moonwalked across it. Without him, I can't help but feel that the musical industry would be completely different.

He was the original boy bander. Not only did the Jackson Five's first four singles climb to the top of the charts but, they also played instruments. And his solo albums were like lightning in a frickin bottle. Thriller topped the charts for well over a year. Every single song from that album (except for his collab with Paul McCartney) struck gold. From that point on, good or bad, he was an icon.

Michael is the undisputed king of music videos. Even the hardest cynics have to got to have a soft spot for at least one of his cinematic masterpieces. Despite constant questioning of his racial identity, MJ took on so many firsts for a Black artist. He was the first African-American to be featured on MTV. When the network demonstrated a reluctance to air videos by people of color, Michael and his team showed it that it would be MTV's loss not to air his 'short films.' Since MTV appears to only play reruns of the Hills and endless Road Rules/Real World Challenges, it might be hard to image a time when they were all about the videos. But back in the day, an MJ video premiere was a major event. I wasn't around in '84 but to this day, I get excited when one of the music channels kicks it old school and plays Thriller or Beat It.

Even though his personal life was a mess at times, professionally, Michael was an innovator. That choreography. The live performances. His fashion. Those lyrics. The over-the-top public persona. The undeniable dance beats. Even the philanthropic work he did. All brilliant.

Michael was a global ambassador of American culture. And even in death, he has somehow managed to influence the world. MJ, we tip our fedoras to you.