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Bacground Information On Michael Jackson The Artist

1088 words - 4 pages

This is background information. Was used for the dance and chorographical piece in a drama class. May be useful to someone.History: 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 moment through excellent split-screen work, the manner in which footage is repeated and recontextualized throughout the video (think of the white cat turning into the tabby) or the way that freeze-frames are flashed on the screen in advance of the shot that contains them. While Jackson would have equally technically intricate videos later, only one approached "Billie Jean's" innovation, and none surpassed its artistry.The other two significant videos from Thriller -- "Thriller" and "Beat It" -- would fully flesh out Jackson's bag of tricks; these three videos are the touchstone for almost all of Jackson's later video work. "Beat It" is his first treatment of black youth and the streets; it's also the first to suggest that dancing together is tantamount to getting along. And both "Beat It" and "Thriller" became famous for their mass choreography, another Jackson trademark."Thriller," directed by John Landis, changed the landscape of the music video, cementing in viewers' minds the potential of videos to be both short films and major media events. In terms of how it contributes to...

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