May 06 2010

The Sociopolitical Message in Black or White

Category: Justice,Lyrics,Photos,VideosSeven @ 3:01 am

by Samar Habib

Michael and the Black Panther symbol

Michael and the Black Panther symbol

I’ve been online discussing ‘Black or White‘ with a few friends over the last few days and thought I’d post my observations here… a friend of mine opened my eyes to the significance of the opening verse and the rest just flowed from there. I can’t believe that the significance of the line “Boy, is that girl with you?” passed me by for 19 years. I’m a political animal but just didn’t see what that meant.

Michael Jackson, the biggest black luminary of all time chose to launch one of his most commercially successful albums with a song about racism that begins with the line “I took my baby on a Saturday bang. “Boy, is that girl with you?”. “Yes, we’re one and the same“.

That verse represents a conversation he’s having with a racist who is offended at the sight of a black man with a white girl. The word “boy” is a racial slur. A word that racists used in reference to their black slaves. It’s the word that alleged KKK member and alleged racist Tom Sneddon used when questioning black superstar Chris Tucker on the stand during Michael’s trial – “If you’re a good boy“. Would he refer to Russel Crowe like that? Who knows…

Later in the video Michael sings “I ain’t scared of no sheets” while bursting through imagery of a KKK meeting. The “sheets” being a reference to the Ku Klux Klan white sheet clothing.

The video ends with Michael destroying racist graffiti including the slogans “nigger go home“, “no more wetbacks“, swastika images and finally “KKK rules“. After he does that he morphs onto a black panther. A BLACK PANTHER!!!! Do you know who the Black Panthers are???

That, my friends, makes that song (and video) a HUGE political statement. It means that when Michael Jackson was the biggest star on the planet he had something very important to say. It means that Black or White is not JUST a fantastic pop record. It means it was also a political masterpiece. Lady Gaga can song “oh-la ooh-la-laaa“… Michael Jackson sings “I ain’t scared of no sheets“. Absolutely amazing.

Black or White was the biggest video premiere in the history of our planet. No artist before or since had the platform that Michael Jackson did. Michael chose THAT moment to launch THAT message. To me, he used to be the greatest. Now that my eyes have been opened he’s the double greatest!

Muhammad Ali has always been my hero – not just because he was the greatest heavyweight of all time. But because, when he had a platform, he had something important to say.

But this??? This is just incredible. It elevates Michael Jackson even higher, if possible, in my eyes. The man was a genius.

That opening verse comes from the same place as Sam Cooke’s verse in ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ – THE civil rights record:

I go to the movie and I go downtown…
Somebody keep tellin me ‘Don’t hang around”

– Sam Cooke, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come

It’s the same line, different era.

I’ve been blown away by this realisation. I’ve been a fan for almost 30 years and this has just blown me away. I thought the guy was great. I didn’t realise how great.

Michael Jackson, may God bless you.

-Samar Habib

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Below is a video that attempts to explain some of the messages inherent in the ‘Panther Dance’ portion of the Black or White video. As the media most often does, they completely missed or deliberately ignored the social and political messages in this piece in favor of other distractions – like his sexual dance moves or in favor of complaining about the violence. In focusing on that, they missed the message completely. It’s what they always do. Their particular brand of willful tunnel-vision is impeccable.  Especially when it comes to Michael Jackson.

The anger expressed in the video is anger at racism, prejudice, and discrimination and it seems that would be obvious for anyone who isn’t sound asleep. It is not violence just for the heck of it, as the media with their constant barrage of disinformation assumed and proceeded to shape public opinion into believing. “We don’t understand it!“, they repeatedly said. What’s not to understand? I remember when this video came out and I was simultaneously disgusted and amused – not about Michael’s video – but rather with the lame$tream media’s collective sophomoric and willfully ignorant reaction to it. Good heavens. Pfft.

But then the media has made an entire industry out of negatively defining everything Michael Jackson is or does so it is typical that they would do the same with this video.  Granted there was then, as there is even now with an African American president in the United States, violence in this country caused by issues of social classism in which racism is so deeply embedded (or vice-versa). However, looking for excuses to invalidate any attempt to bring attention to the issue so that we can summarily dismiss and ignore it not the answer. Except to the lame$team media, apparently. Thus, they are part of the problem as they are with many issues we face in the U.S. as a “Democracy” (or Democratic-Republic) and as a society.

Rather than make any attempt whatsoever to embrace or even understand the social and political messages in this video from the most prominent black entertainer and artist of our time, the predominantly white-owned lame$tream media summarily and self-righteously criticized and dismissed it, and the most significant piece (‘the panther dance‘) was thusly removed from the remainder of the video in some distributions due to the controversy.

The entire ~11-minute film can still be viewed on YouTube and is available on his ‘Dangerous, The Short Films DVD.  In some versions, the graffiti Mr. Habib mentions above (‘nigger go home‘, ‘KKK rules‘, etc.) was removed from the video.  In my own opinion, this detracted from the effectiveness and intended message in the film, as did chopping off the last half of it – the ‘panther dance‘ portion.

Michael himself said this about the video in an interview:

I wanted to do a dance number [and] I told my sister Janet, I said, ‘You remind me of a black panther.’ I said, ‘Why you don’t do something where you transform into a black panther and you transform into yourself again?’ She said, ‘I like it,’ but she didn’t go with it,” he explained. “The two of us, we always think alike. So I did it. And in the dance, I said, ‘I want to do a dance number where I can let out my frustration about injustice and prejudice and racism and bigotry,’ and within the dance I became upset and let go. I think at the time people were concerned with the violent content of the piece, but it’s, like, easy to look at. It’s simple.  -Michael Jackson

Whether the media and their Ignorami followers who suckle at the tit of their incessant and unintelligent decades-long ‘negative-definition-of-all-things-Michael-Jackson‘ campaign like it or not, now that he is gone from this Earth, this piece of art will remain an indelible and historical statement on the continuing issue of racism and inherent social classism in this country. There is nothing they can do about it as much as they would like to continue finding excuses to invalidate the issue and the incredible black man Michael Jackson along with it (not-so-ironically or coincidentally).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here’s the entire Panther Dance sequence by itself:

‘PREJUDICE IS IGNORANCE’

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34 Responses to “The Sociopolitical Message in Black or White”

  1. Susan says:

    Hi Seven:

    Remember at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, two African Americans gave the Black Panther salute and were subsequently heavily criticized and even banned, I believe, from participating in any future U.S. sporting events.

    Also, when I watched Michael’s speech in London announcing his tour for the 02 arena, I noticed near the end, he looked to his right, put him arm out with the clenched fist, sort of tossed his head back a little and had a very serious look on his face. It so reminded me of the Black Panther salute at the time, and I thought someone would mention it, but I never heard another word – so then I thought, well maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    One thing no one can deny, Michael was/is a very proud Black man, yet the media with their jokes and innuendo about his skin colour tried to diminish his sense of self as a Black man.

    So when I saw what I considered his salute in London, I thought he was giving the press the middle finger – with his fist!

  2. Seven says:

    Susan, I wondered about that gesture of Michael’s myself. He was a very proud black man and he had every right to be. Every African American, Every One of Us has a right to be proud of our heritage and to not be ridiculed for it.

    If Michael was giving the press the ‘fist’ then all well and good they collectively deserve it after spending decades lynching the man on the airwaves (TV) and in print.

    I don’t condone violence – but this was a video. It is art. It is art that expresses the frustration that millions no doubt felt along with Michael. And Michael, being such a well-known figure and black, was even more frustrated by it than many. MTV told him they would not play black music, go to Soul Train. Can you imagine being told that about your own gifts whatever they are? “We don’t put art on our walls that was created by black people.” What?

    If it were a frustrated and oppressed white man smashing windows in a run-down city or an alley in a music video would it have evoked the same reaction? I doubt it. Why? I’ve seen many a music video with much worse violence and violent themes in them and nary a word was ever uttered about it.

    Michael didn’t go out into a real street and do this and he didn’t tell others to do it. If anyone bothered to listen to any of his music and speeches or to read any of his lyrics or writing – if they bothered at all to find out what this man was about: that he was against prejudice of any kind, that he was against violence and war, they’d know better.

    But the pretty talking heads that read the propaganda to us everyday and are ‘so horrified’ by this ‘monster’ they created in their media kingdom – this ‘monster’ that does not even exist except in their own selves and their own minds – and which they projected onto Michael Jackson so that they could punish him for its existence – never bothered to find out who Michael Jackson really was or what he was about. They were too busy defining him as the quintessential ‘angry black man’ that everyone fears and too busy stoking that fear whether there was in reality any reason for it to exist, or not.

    Had they spent even five minutes on educating themselves about him instead of simply parroting the headlines and sensationalism their corprat bosses told them to copy and paste from one outlet to the next to garner the most ratings and profit – this controversy would have never existed. And as is, it only existed and exists so that the media can make more money off of it.

    Nevermind that the important sociopolitical messages of one of the most important luminaries of our time (Heal the World, We Are the World, The Lost Children, Man in the Mirror Cry, Earth Song) have gone utterly ignored because of their willful tunnel-vision and boundless greed. I say again, they are part of the problem. And nothing else.

    Michael Jackson lived what he was about: L.O.V.E. And, the media outlets and those who own and run them live what they are about: G.R.E.E.D. And they can’t see past our outside of it to anything else.

    The way this man was treated by the media and this society which listens all too intently to their disinformation – was and is barbaric. And I do believe that his being black had a lot to do with it. Maybe not everything but it was an undeniable factor.

    If he expressed frustration with that in a video who can blame him?

  3. Miz T says:

    I knew about the Black or White lyrics…I feel embarassed for not catching the other symbols/allusions hiding in plain sight though. I have a lot to learn…

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Sumi says:

    This is an absolutely great post, Seven. It was not totally new to me, but it’s great how you explained it.
    I think the prison video of “They don’t care about us” is also a very sociopolitical message, and it was somehow banned and substituted by the Brazil version, which still is very good, but the prison version is much more angry.
    I think Michael only could express his anger in his dance and music. He was not able to shout and argue with people, hid did everything through his art, and that’s why he was so brilliant, because it came from deep inside. And he was very intelligent as well. He knew exactly what he did with each step.

  5. Miranda says:

    Great observation and explanation of this video. I love when people take a song and look and certain words to study and analyze the song to find out its true meaning. Michael truly had a point and purpose for each song. He had so many important messages, and it saddens me that people didn’t pay attention to them.

    I would like to see more studying in his songs just like this one in the future.

  6. Raven says:

    It’s an observation I’ve made many times, both as a writer/artist myself, and as a teacher of literature. Most artistic statements go straight over the heads of the masses, and unless everything is “dumbed down” and spelled out explicitly, they usually don’t “get it.” It’s the same reason great books ofen end up turned into horrible movies, because by the time some Hollywood script writer gets through dumbing down the essence of the book for mass consumption, they have essentially weaned all of the artistic merit out of it. “Black Or White” was a hit because it had a catchy hook, but the deeper implications of its meaning did go over the heads of most people. Most people just latched onto the chorus “…it don’t matter if you’re black or white” and took it to be simply a song about racial harmony and “getting along.” I think there is that element, but the song as a whole goes much deeper, and is making a much bigger statement.

    I have to confess, I had missed the Black Panther connection as well. Like a lot of people, I just assumed he was using the panther as a sexual symbol. Yet it’s so obvious once you realize that was his intent! (Then you just wanna slap yourself upside the head and go, “Duh!”

    Great entry today, thanks!

  7. Seven says:

    Sumi,

    “He was not able to shout and argue with people, hid did everything through his art, and that’s why he was so brilliant, because it came from deep inside. And he was very intelligent as well. He knew exactly what he did with each step.”

    I agree with what you wrote. He did do everything through his art. He expressed himself through it in ways he could not any other way. He was brilliant – exactly – because it came from his heart and soul.

    Raven,

    You make a good point that if important messages are not watered down and dumbed down to the point that they’re practically meaningless – to a single sound-bite, people don’t get it. Their attention spans are incredibly stunted and self-centered too. I guess in this sound-bite-fed media-in-a-minute age, that’s how people are conditioned. They want to know ‘what’s in it for me’, ‘how does this affect me’, and if the answer is ‘nothing, it doesn’t at the moment, but you should care anyway, because this is the world you live in and it can or will affect you at some point’ – they’re on to the next sound-bite.

    This is incredibly sad for brilliant artists like Michael because so very much of what they have to say falls on deaf ears and propaganda-numbed minds. He did reach millions though, and I hope he will reach millions more from his place in the palace of the Great Creator.

    I can only hope that all Michael was trying to teach the world will be brought to light as more people examine more closely who he really was sans the negative definition of him by the media.

    Michael’s brother Jermaine said that ‘If you want to know who Michael was, just look at his lyrics.‘ It’s true. Turn off the TV and read Moonwalk, Dancing the Dream, and really listen for the first time to his songs, read the lyrics, and watch his videos. That is who Michael Jackson is.

    He wasn’t the demon many tried to depict him as (‘pedophile’, ‘freak’, ‘weirdo’, ‘gay/bisexual’, ‘angry black man’, etc.) He was a brilliant, sensitive, generous genius who gave his heart and soul to this World while trying to change it for the better – even as it destroyed him for doing it.

    S

  8. ZM says:

    Excellent post, Seven! Regarding the graffiti at the end of the video, I believe it was actually added later – the original version had Michael smashing windows without graffiti. I believe the idea was to make it look more like there was a reason for the violence.

  9. Justice4MJJ says:

    Well I’d noticed the “sheets” part for a long time, but somehow I had never noticed the beginning lines either! I cant believe I missed that! Thanks for sharing that, it makes him all the more special with each bit unearthed :} Also, what Susan said, about Michael doing the black panther salute, and or giving the media the “fist”, that I had always wondered what he meant, but I certainly bet he could’ve been doing those gestures!

  10. ZM says:

    I was aware of the Black Panther reference, having grown up in the Bay Area, but I completely missed the significance of “boy” in this particular song, I am embarrassed to say! I love the way he uses “boy” as a refrain in the song “D.S.”, about Tom Sneddon, as well.

  11. Diana says:

    Seven,
    Love your site!
    I’m one of those who tries to really study MJ’s music, and I appreciate your entry today. One thing that still has me confused about this video, is the connection of the first part (with Macauley Caulkin) with the rest of the video. It doesn’t seem to make sense to me. And the Simpson’s clip at the end (although I do know MJ liked to have fun, and the end clip might just be that).
    This is as far as I’ve gotten: White middle class American being thrust unwillingly into a culturally diverse world, from whence we then see MJ dancing into a variety of cultures.
    Any thoughts?
    Thanks.

  12. Seven says:

    Thanks for that information ZM. Of course there was a reason for the violence. Sounds like the graffiti was added to make it clearer. Makes sense.

    Justice4MJJ says:

    Bangs‘ meant “party/parties” in the 1970’s. I read an old Diana Ross interview where one can easily imply that that was the meaning.

  13. emma says:

    Very insightful post Seven. The clip explaining the symbols in the Panther-dance segment of B&W is really eye-opening. It’s message is more serious than I thought until now. However I always have to laugh at the part when Michael pulls up his zipper: that is a message for me about the role of the good humour even when it comes to very serious things in our society.

  14. Bonnie Cox says:

    That is an awesome observation. I am blown away. I thought the song was about racism but never delved into the lyrics to analyze them until I saw this. I’ve been on other songs of his (Earth Song, We’ve had enough, They don’t care about us, etc…), but not his earlier music. Wow! Michael, God Bless you!

  15. Justice4MJJ says:

    It’s interesting that Quincy’s best ex of MJ being “black man”~was Liberian Girl~did he ever really know MJ? If he did, wouldn’t he have noticed these references in MJJ’s songs, and in They Dont Really Care About Us (an obvious choice, that the medialoids always ignore, they especially ignore the ones that address them specifically! Typical!) In addition to his bashing MJ+perpetuating the lies about his Vitiligo ect..all that,and after his murder too! Also, MJ uses ‘boy’ in Speed Demon, which, that song the inspiration being Bruce Swedian getting a ticket on the way to the studio OR MJ getting one, which has never been cleared up for me.
    ***Btw in reference to the “bangs” word,to clear it up a bit more for your readers, it was in a late 1970’s interview, where Diana says she and her husband rarely go to bangs, and instead focus on work and their children.

  16. MME says:

    How coincidental – I’d just watched the video of Black or White when I came here and found this article! Thanks Seven for enlightening me! I just love how MJ’s work can be appreciated on so many levels – from simply a darned good tune, catchy lyrics, recognisable voice, cool dancing and eye catching videos (that’s how I USED to enjoy him), to amazingly complex musical arrangement; meaningful, from-the-heart lyrics; stunning voice with tremendous range and individuality; dancing that seems to be every cell in his body responding to the music, more than that, BEING the music; and artisic, thought-provoking videos and short films into which he weaves the human and world issues that mean most to him, to teach those who want to listen. This is how I appreciate his work now. And to have discovered many interviews and speeches that I hadn’t been aware of previously, and to hear the sincerity, compassion, LOVE and indeed humour in his spoken voice too, just adds to the hurt I feel now that he’s gone.

    I’ve been getting overwhelmed with some of what I’ve been finding on your site, but ALWAYS, if I just go back and listen to some of his music or watch some of his videos I find some calm, peace and reassurance. What a man!

  17. Seven says:

    Probably why the black panther in the video growls at the George Washington statue:

    On George Washington:

    Naturalization Act of 1790

    George Washington signed the Naturalization Act of 1790, which excluded non-white races from becoming naturalized citizens of the United States. This law established that “any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen” if “he is a person of good character.” In 1795, the law was revised increasing the established residency to 5 years and included renunciation of “allegiance and fidelity” to their country of origin.[30] This law was passed in order to prohibit freed African Americans from gaining citizenship.

    And on his slaves:

    By the time Washington was 11 years old he inherited 10 slaves and 500 acres of land. Thereafter, slavery would be intermingled with Washington for the rest of his life. When he began managing the Mount Vernon plantation eleven years later, at the age of 22, he had a work force of about 36 slaves. With his marriage to Martha Custis in 1759, 20 of her slaves came to Mount Vernon. After their marriage, Washington purchased even more slaves. The slave population also increased because the slaves were marrying and raising their own families. By 1786, there were 216 active slaves on Mt. Vernon.[1] By 1799, when George Washington died, there were an estimated 316 slaves living on the estate.

  18. Heidi says:

    Seven, once again, thank you. Having grown up in the midwest in the 70’s, and remembering when white people had to literally flee their homes because of the Chicago riots, I caught the Black Panther symbolism right away. Again, the Brilliant One speaking in metaphor for those “with ears to hear.” And the zipper? OMG Michael. Priceless. A statement of “Piss on you if you’re so ignorant” message if there ever was one!

  19. Samar Habib says:

    During Michael Jackson’s performance of ‘Black Or White’ at the Superbowl Halftime Show, the crowds unfurls two banners of a black hand shaking a white hand. Completely identical to the logo for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Completely identical.

    The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was lead, in the early 60s by Stokeley Carmichael. Just before he left to join the Black Panther party.

    Picture:

    http://img691.imageshack.us/img691/6682/mjsncc.jpg

  20. Bridgett_361 says:

    I knew there was a message in most of his song,
    Michael Jackson remind me of another great Bob Malay
    They have to create a distraction from his music so most will not hear the massage. When MJ die I went back and look at his lyric and was blow away by it. My younger brother say to me they don’t know MIchael because they don’t want to hear the massage. He was truly a musical prophet the evil ones knew it that is why they make fun at him,
    Thank you for pointing out this.
    this is where we as fans need to look at MJ music life and leave
    the rest behind .

  21. TLS says:

    Seven–so glad you’re talking about Jackson’s politics–so glad he had the courage to say and do what he did. Just to be sure, I re-checked amazon and iTunes store and you still can not buy the full version video of “Black or White.” If you want to own a high quality version of it, you have to buy the HIStory collection. Worse than that, the “They Don’t Care About Us” prison version isn’t available for purchase anywhere that I’ve ever been able to find. Only the South American version, which was also controversial. He’s far from the first black artist to be censored/banned, but it’s remarkable that the threat is felt this long after those videos were made and even after his death.

    I know I’ve mentioned this before, but if anyone really wants to read something brilliant about Jackson’s political message, they should get Armond White’s book “Keep Moving.” Chapter 3, titled “The Gloved One is Not a Chump,” is about the “Black or White” video.

    Of the silent, solo “panther” dance that is usually cut from the video, White writes, “…silence unleashes the part of Jackson that always was suppressed in song. He dances free of the personal, social, racial constraints that are inseparable from Jackson’s Black and human existence in ways that empowered whites may never understand.”

    White adds that the video “seems, to me, to be the most significant personal gesture any American artist has made in years” and deems it not just the best music video of the year, but “probably the outstanding film of 1991.” He concludes that “Black or White proves that when Jackson reconciles the larger meanings of art and contemporary politics, no one else can touch him. He’s already charmed the world; Black or White shows that he has the courage to shake it up.”

    White is explicit about the Black Panther allusions, the references to racism and white discomfort/censorship. AND he wrote all of this back in 1991. I hope Jackson read his articles back then; too bad more people didn’t share White’s appreciation of a great artist’s work.

    Diana—White also addresses having Macaulay Culkin in the video. It’s too long to quote here, but he makes the point that Jackson is deliberately targeting his white audience by beginning in white suburbia with a rebellious kid who cranks the music so loud, he blows his dad “ALL THE WAY TO AFRICA!” I can’t do justice to White’s analysis here, but he’s convinced Jackson knew precisely what he was doing—that it was part of exposing American racism, expressing his anger and frustration at the status quo, as well as his hope for a world that would one day transcend color. I personally think his decision to feature Culkin expressed his hope that children would be the ones who would eventually create a world free of hate–a world where it really didn’t matter whether you’re black or white.

    I find “Black and White,” “They Don’t Really Care About Us,” and “Jam” not only profound statements about the Black American experience, but beautiful works of art as well. I’m sorry I went on and on, but I don’t think we can talk about them too much. And we must make sure they’re not forgotten.

  22. Seven says:

    TLS,

    Thank you for bringing it up. I can also highly recommend Armond White’s book. It’s excellent!

    I have the full B & W video – on one of my DVDs but I notice it’s difficult to find elsewhere – other than on YouTube either chopped into pieces or the sound/vid quality isn’t great. It’s a great disservice to the piece to not have it more widely distributed in high quality video/sound, IMO.

    I posted the lyrics to ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ on another messageboard and got the riot act read to me for it. The person insisted it was anti-Semitic and blasted me for posting them. People are clearly incredibly defensive and simultaneously very ignorant about Michael and what he was about. They’ve got their defenses up and their fists raised even before they bother to look and see if that’s what he really meant or to consider anything else about his character that might lead them to believe that Michael would never write anything anti-Semitic. Duh. I guess I should not have been surprised at the ignorance.

    S

  23. Seven says:

    bytheway, here is more information, including how to purchase, for the Armond White ‘Keep Moving’ book:

    http://keepmovingbook.wordpress.com/about/

  24. Samar Habib says:

    ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ is anti-Semitic? But every hip-hop track that features the word ‘nig*er’ is tolerated? If people were concerned about racism, in general, they’d be up in arms everytime Fiddy talks about killing ‘nig*ers’.

    Or is it ok for our kids to hear that?

  25. Seven says:

    That’s what they told me Samar. Unbelievable isn’t it? I agree with you. NO ONE says anything about some of the hip-hop lyrics. InterestinK double-standard that, huh?

    Same with the ‘violence’ in Black or White. No one complains about ‘violence’ in other music videos, films, kid’s games, video games, etc. I mean people do, but the lame$tream media were NOT all over that like white on rice going on and on and on about it the way they crawled all over that Black or White video of Michael’s. Daggone. I mean they were just aghast at it. Meanwhile, you could turn on MTV and see some stupid rocker smashing up a guitar or a car and that was OK. (?!).

    Yea. I don’t get it either.

  26. dez says:

    OMG never thought about that!!! tnx seven really mindblowing & eye opening..wow!

  27. Samar Habib says:

    On the same album Biggie Smalls raps:

    “I’m a killer nigga I ain’t jokin’…
    And I know my nigga Mike like that”

    But the anti-racist lobby never even mentioned those lyrics. Some words are fine for public consumption, it seems.

  28. Seven says:

    I think it somehow depends on whose words maybe. Somehow if they were MJ’s, they were immediately unacceptable – period. And the media made money off of that consistent negative definition of all things Michael Jackson.

    He was a much bigger star (and therefore a bigger target and source of income for all and sundry media-vultures and maggots) than Biggie Smalls et al. Or, at least that’s my guess.

  29. TLS says:

    Seven–I guess I’m not surprised at the reaction you got to “They Don’t Care About Us” lyrics, but I’m saddened by it. When I read these words (below) coming from JACKSON, this is what they mean to me: “Degrade me by equating “jew” with “cheat”; falsely accuse me; screw me; hurt me; call me names; I don’t accept your view!” I can’t imagine hearing it as anything BUT a comment on racist language–a comment and a condemnation.

    Jew me, sue me
    Everybody do me
    Kick me, kike me
    Don’t you black or white me

    When Jackson was forced by bad press to explain himself, he said (I think to the New York Times): “I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone. I am the skinhead, I am the Jew, I am the black man, I am the white man.” And watching the montage of images and his own anguish during the prison version of the video, it’s clear that he means this. It was a willful misrepresentation of his truth to call him a racist; nothing could be clearer than that. People who are repeating those charges now have not thought about it enough, or watched the video, or both.

  30. Seven says:

    Exactly TLS,

    I agree with you and seeing those lyrics and both versions of that video, my take was the same as yours. I had heard people claim the song was anti-Semitic but the vitriol I received from posting those lyrics was astonishing to me. Several others came to my defense but the ignorance out there – I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. But I was.

    S

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