MJ Studies Today III (15-03-16)

Abstract: March 2016 discusses the screening of Spike Lee’s new documentary, ‘Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall’.

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 III (15-03-16).” The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies2, no. 2 (2016). Published electronically 15/03/16. http://michaeljacksonstudies.org/mj-studies-today-iii-15-03-16/.

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MJ Studies Today III (15-03-16)
By Elizabeth Amisu

Addendum (1/4/16): The PCA Conference Panel on Michael Jackson was chaired by Professor Marie Plasse, of Merrimack College. Find out more about Professor Plasse here.

March and April are set to be very exciting months in the world of Michael Jackson Studies. Especially following the television screenings of Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Walldue to be broadcast on BBC 2 this coming Saturday 19thof March. I will be focusing in more detail on the academic use of the documentary in next month’s column, and I think it’s pretty important to consider reviews from the fan community along with critics’ perspective. Lanre Bakare of The Guardian, wrote of the documentary when it first aired in Sundance, ‘It’s a brazen celebration of Jackson, which unlike Lee’s other documentary work doesn’t look under the hood to tell the whole story and examine some of the more uncomfortable inner workings’.

Bakare certainly has a point. Jackson wrote in his autobiography, Moonwalk, that the period of creativity which birthed Off the Wall was some of the most harrowing years of his life up until that point. This was ‘one of the most difficult periods of my life, despite the eventual success it enjoyed. I had very few close friends at the time and felt very isolated. I was so lonely that I used to walk through my neighbourhood hoping I’d run into somebody I could talk to’.[1]
That aside, it is always refreshing to see a positive and joyful perspective on Jackson’s creativity, and for that alone, director Spike Lee warrants praise.

A documentary for my upcoming book, The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlifeis currently in production and will be released on YouTube over the coming weeks, while the editors of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies featured onDancing With the Elephant for the second time last month. This time we focused on David Bowie and Michael Jackson and their critical receptions from audiences.

The latest episode of our podcastMichael Jackson’s Dream Lives On: An Academic Conversation features an in-depth discussion of cinematography in Bad, Stranger in Moscow and ScreamIt is so exciting to speak to people online who are engaging in this discussion too.

Instead of the Article of the Month, this month boasts an entire conference of papers by the great movers and shakers of the Michael Jackson Studies World. Some screencaps from the 2016 PCA Conference in Seattle are include below. Academics like Marie Plasse, Susan Fast, Joseph Vogel, Nina Fonoroff will present in what really promises to be a fantastic panel, right on the leading edge of MJ Studies research.

PCA Panel 2016

More information can be found here: http://ncp.pcaaca.org/
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 Kingventionthis year. So don’t forget to subscribe to keep in touch.

3 Things I’m Grateful for This Month

  1. All the wonderful listeners of Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On. Especially those of you who continue to comment and send your feedback. We love to hear it.
  2. The Journal of Michael Jackson Studies reaching 600 Likes on Facebook. What a wonderful achievement, and we are so grateful for all your support.
  3. 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 AfterlifeThere will be a limited print run of no more than 5000 copies of this book, so make sure to get your copy too. Limited Edition Pre-Order Today: Amazon UK Amazon USA

Until next month,
Eliza x

[1]Michael Jackson, Moonwalk (London: Heinemann, 2009), 164.

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 Studiesonline. For The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studiesshe 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.