Abstract: February 2016 discusses the recent news that the white actor Joseph Fiennes, was cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming comedy program on Sky Arts.
Column by Elizabeth Amisu, MA, PGCE, editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies and author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife.
Amisu, Elizabeth. “MJ Studies Today II (14-02-16).” The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies 2, no. 1 (2016). Published electronically 14/2/16. http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/mj-studies-today-ii-14-02-16/.
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MJ Studies Today II (14-02-16)
By Elizabeth Amisu
Empty vessels make most noise – Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.
Hello everyone, and happy Valentine’s Day,
The last month has been pretty exciting in the world of MJ Studies, especially with the recent news that the white actor Joseph Fiennes, was cast as Michael Jackson in an upcoming comedy program on Sky Arts; the new release of Spike Lee’s Off the Wall documentary; a new teaser trailer of my academic book, The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife on YouTube; the Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies editors featuring on Dancing With the Elephant for the first time; and of course, the latest episode of our podcast, Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation – What is Michael Jackson Studies?
The internet was ablaze this last month with the news that Joseph Fiennes would be playing Michael Jackson in a ‘half-hour comedy will be written by Neil Forsyth, who wrote – as alter ego Bob Servant – Delete This at Your Peril, a collection of humorous email conversations with would-be con artists and spammers’.[i] A later Guardian article showed how much traction this debate has really gained:
Regardless, one would be allowed to question why the makers chose to cast the white star of Shakespeare in Love as Michael Jackson. Asked about the thinking behind this, Collett wrote: “Sky Arts gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.”
But “diversity”, a word Selma director Ava DuVernay wants people to stop using, is a blanket term. It’s easier to talk about than “racism”, “structural racism” or “anti-blackness”. Having a white actor play such an important African American legend remains problematic.[ii]
The Article of the Month is:
Tavia Nyong’o’s ‘Have You Seen His Childhood? Song, Screen, and the Queer Culture of the Child in Michael Jackson’s Music’ in the Journal of Popular Music Studies 23, no. 1 (2011): 40-57.
It can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1533-1598.2010.01263.x/abstract
We released a new podcast last week on the MJAS. It’s called ‘What is MJ Studies?’ In it we discuss all the different academic disciplines which involve the subject, and of course, the connection between Michael Jackson and Johann Sebastian Bach, one of our favourite topics. We also discuss how you can join us… and all our exciting plans for the new year.
Over the next few months I will continue to release videos, mini-documentaries and lots more, including new information on the launch and my appearance at Kingvention this year. So don’t forget to subscribe to keep in touch.
3 Things I’m Grateful for This Month
- My wonderful contributors who provided interviews for the Moonwalkers section in my book: Red, Collector and Karin Merx.
- The lovely readers on Dancing with the Elephant and all of their wonderful comments on our recent feature post.
- All the Michael Jackson fans around the world who have pre-ordered The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife. There will be a limited print run of no more than 5000 copies of this book, so make sure to get your copy too. Amazon UK Amazon USA
Until next month,
[i] Thrasher, Steven W. “Joseph Fiennes to Play Michael Jackson in 9/11 Road-Trip Comedy.” The Guardian (2016). Published electronically 26 January. http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2016/jan/26/joseph-fiennes-michael-jackson-9-11-road-trip-sky-arts.
[ii] Thrasher, Steven W. “Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson Shows Race Problems before Oscars Row.” The Guardian (2016). Published electronically 28 January. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/28/joseph-fiennes-michael-jackson-race-problems-oscarssowhite.
Elizabeth Amisu, author of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife, holds an MA in Early Modern English Literature from King’s College London. She is co-founder and editor of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies online. For The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies she has edited two publications, An Academic Companion to Michael Jackson Studies and Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation – Michael Jackson & Prince; written several articles and book reviews, most notably ”Throwing Stones To Hide Your Hands’: The Mortal Persona Of Michael Jackson‘, which has been translated into Spanish and Italian; ”The Isle is Full of Noises’: Revisiting the Peter Pan of Pop‘, available in German; ”Crack Music’: Michael Jackson’s Invincible‘, also in Italian; and ”Heard it Through the Grapevine’: Are We Losing Michael Jackson All Over Again?‘, also available in Spanish. Find out more at elizabethamisu.com.
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