Yesterday, Today, & FOREVER The King of Pop

Michael Jackson – The King of American Entertainment

Michael Jackson: Creating a
world with no fear, part I

Joel Ebert

10/1/07

I am going to assert
something that you may find extremely ridiculous, so brace yourself: I believe
that Michael Jackson is the most "American" entertainer that this
great country has ever seen.

While I may be wrong and am certainly open to criticism, all I ask is that you
grant me an opportunity to explain my reasoning in this two-part series that
analyzes both the King of Pop and the United States.

In order to fully explain myself, we first must do a brief, in-depth analysis
of both the United States and Michael Jackson as entities in and of themselves.
Naturally, we must start with the beginning for each entity.

The formal founding of the land that would become the US began after it broke
free from the oppressive control of England’s unjust taxation and the royal
governors system that were used in the early colonies. During these years, the
colonies were often deliberated and debated over in England. The Brits were
absolutely enamored with the endless possibilities and dreams that could be
fulfilled in the New World.

With the true formation of the United States of America, the nation burst onto
the global scene by forging such documents as the Declaration of Independence,
the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. These documents were the foundational
pieces that were set into place in order to help our developing young nation
become the powerful nation that it is today.

Comparatively, the start of MJ’s career began after he broke free from the
tyrannical reign of his father Joe, who reportedly spanked and whipped the
Jackson children. Michael was thrust into the limelight as the star and driving
force behind the Jackson Five, where he sang lead on such hits as
"ABC," "I’ll Be There," and "I Want You Back."
Michael’s stage presence and powerful voice, matched with his uncanny ability to
entertain, helped solidify his presence as an entertainer, which would further
develop from the nebula that he began as into the star that he would ultimately
become.

Eventually the United
States was forced to address a rising conflict: slavery. This split the nation
in many ways, culminating with the Civil War. The abolishment of slavery
coincided with economic prosperity, as the nation looked to the future and
became a part of the industrial revolution. The astounding economic success of
the United States since then has been replicated by nations such as China and
Germany, but all remain as just that; a replication.

Jackson had to face the facts in the late 1970s after his brother Jermaine,
forced the Jackson Five to drop the Five and simply go by "The Jacksons." This led to Michael pursuing his own interests, which he shared
with the world by creating the successful album Off the Wall. MJ never looked
back from there. Jackson’s financial success made history, rivaling the sales
of both the Beatles and Elvis Presley.

The entertainment industry has certainly seen many attempts at replicating MJ’s
sales, but all fall well short of his 750 million albums and singles sold
worldwide
(which surpass the Beatles and Elvis, according to Sony BMG).

One thing is for certain about both the United States’ and Michael Jackson’s
financial success stories: they are both unprecedented in today’s economy.

Adding to each other’s legacy, the US and MJ have both bolstered their images
by being pioneers in their respective fields.

The United States has often been seen as a leader, pioneering in such areas as
scientific research and technological advances. Due to these skills, the world
has seen the invention of the light bulb, radio, television, motion pictures
and sound development, the airplane and the moon landing, among many other
great feats.

Jackson can be seen as a true pioneer in many regards. Michael redefined
mainstream dance music, revolutionized modern music videos with technology,
became one of the most charitable humanitarians of all time with his Heal the
World Foundation (which eventually led to his 1998 Nobel Peace Prize
nomination), and perfected the unforgettable and often attempted dance moves,
the Robot and the Moonwalk.

The United States and Michael Jackson can even be compared to each other by
seeing each entity’s involvement in a struggle between superpowers. Much
throughout the 1950s and ’60s until the eventual collapse in 1989, the United
States battled the Soviet Union for sole title as ‘the’ superpower. The same
can be seen in Michael’s career and his battle with Madonna. This may raise
some questions, namely, that Madonna has proved more longevity and relevance in
today’s world than Jackson does.

I, however, disagree with this assessment.

Read next week to see why I crown Michael Jackson the King of American
entertainment

Michael Jackson – Creating
a world with no fear, pt. II

Culture matters?

Joel Ebert

10/8/07

Last week we considered how
the United States’ and Michael Jackson’s histories reflect each other in many
ways…

Michael Jackson is
comparable to America due to his ability to be economically superior (album
sales), financially fit (net worth) and technologically superior (dance
capabilities) to Madonna. Michael is even looking to further globalize his
presence by taking up residence in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain, much
like the United States’ presence throughout the Middle East today. Despite his
recent child molestation charges and personal tribulations, Jackson’s highly
anticipated new album, 7even, is being prepped for release. For these reasons,
we can clearly see that Michael is, was, and always will be ‘the’ superpower…

Michael has done so many
shocking things that he continues to redefine people’s expectations and has
become the brunt of many people’s jokes…

what
we humans do when we don’t understand something: we stick a label on it and
file it away. We call people insane, loony, or nutty and place them in
institutions where we don’t have to deal with them in every day life.




I feel that this is an unjust categorization. The reason people label MJ as
crazy is because he is too real to handle. He is the unedited director’s cut
edition of the most realistic reality show this country has ever experienced.
Though the American public is obsessed with seeing what reality shows portray
as real, they are hit upside the head with the very real life of Michael
Jackson and in turn feel very uncomfortable. If the American public were
genuinely concerned with reality, they would instead demand a focus on
something beyond the entertainment value of everything. If we could learn one
thing from Michael, it’s that if we come together, we can make the world a
better place. This means we must stop these nonsensical labels that we place on
our entertainers, take them for what they are (human) and separate their ‘real’
lives from the reality we see every day in order to genuinely work to heal the
world.




Which brings me to my central point: why Michael Jackson is more
"American" than you or I could ever dream of being. The question
follows; what does it mean to be American?




What does America represent? Freedom, power, success, leadership, style,
controversy, entertainment, capitalism, the fulfillment of dreams. These are
only a few things on a long list, and all of these qualities are shared by our
great American entertainer Michael Jackson. The melting pot of cultures and
ethnicities that makes up the United States is much akin to the melting pot of
genres, cultures and styles that make up Michael Jackson. For all these reasons
stated above, including last week’s article, and for more that can be further
expanded upon if given the proper time and patience, I can comfortably label
Michael Joseph Jackson the most American entertainer of all time.




I realize some of you may think that I am completely off in my assessment of
Michael Jackson or the United States, in which case I open myself to criticism
and debate. Please send any comments, questions, or concerns to
jebert3@uic.edu.

Until then, I will continue listening to the Man in the Mirror.



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