Volume 1: Issue 2 October – December 2014

Volume 1: Issue 2 –

Our research continues and in this issue we published Das Phänomen Michael Jackson by philosopher, Jochen Ebmeier, the first academic book of its kind. You can read three essays from academic Elizabeth Amisu and we included work from academic Raven Woods.

The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies asks that you acknowledge The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies as the source of our Content; if you use material from The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies online, we request that you link directly to the stable URL provided. If you use our content offline, we ask that you credit the source as follows: “Courtesy of The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies.”

Journal-Vol1-Issue2 The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic StudiesContents

1. Editorial by Karin Merx

2. ‘Crack Music’: Michael Jackson’s Invincible by Elizabeth Amisu

3. Das Phänomen Michael Jackson by Jochen Ebmeier

4. On Michael Jackson’s Dancing the Dream by Elizabeth Amisu

5. ‘BAD’ (1987) by Elizabeth Amisu

6. Langston Hughes’s ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain by Raven Woods

1. Editorial

The aftermath of Michael Jackson’s untimely death, brought Cirque du Soleil’s The Immortal World Tour in 2011, directed by choreographer Jamie King, which employed Jackson’s vision and music in a new performative context. In 2014 they premiered another show, Michael Jackson: One, described as ‘a sonic, tonic fusion of acrobatics, dance and visuals that takes the audience on an immersive journey through the music and spirit of Jackson.’[1] On the list of 25 Top Selling Music Artists Of All Time in November, Jackson was number 3 with Elvis Presley and The Beatles ahead of him, at 2 and 1 respectively.[2] Jackson’s music was as popular as it had always been. Still, academic research on Jackson’s art remains rare.

In our ongoing research for academic books and/or essays written about Jackson’s art, we discovered Das Phänomen Michael Jackson by philosopher, Jochen Ebmeier, the first academic book of its kind. This German-language publication was first published in 1997 and a second edition followed in 1999. After our discussions with the author he re-published the 1999 edition online, and gave us permission to publish the links to the chapters in our journal.

In this issue we give a spotlight to some of Jackson’s least appreciated work, his last studio album, Invincible (2001), and his book of poetry and short stories, Dancing the Dream: Poems and Reflections (1992), which was republished in 2009. We include three essays from academic, Elizabeth Amisu. In the first she explores Invincible’s transgressive qualities, in the second she answers the questions, ‘what exactly is Dancing the Dream’ and ‘how is it significant’? In her essay, ‘BAD (1987)’, she de-constructs the uncut version of the short film Bad, directed by Martin Scorsese.

We are pleased to also include the work of academic, Raven Woods, who gave us permission to republish the first part of her essay, ‘Langston Hughes’s ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’. It occurred to her that much of what Langston wrote in 1926 could be applied to what Michael Jackson had to endure as an African-American artist.

Karin Merx

[1] https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/michael-jackson-one/show/about.aspx [accessed June 11, 2015].

[2] http://www.list25.com/25-to-seling-music-artists-of-all-time/5/ [accessed June 11, 2015].

2. ‘Crack Music’: Michael Jackson’s Invincible
By Elizabeth Amisu

Little academic writing has been devoted to Michael Jackson’s final studio album, Invincible. This article explores Invincible through Kanye West’s metaphor of Crack Music from the 2005 album, Late Registration and places it in the context of black aspiration as a threat to dominant Western ideologies.


3. Das Phänomen Michael Jackson
By Jochen Ebmeier

Das Phänomen Michael Jackson was the first academic book ever written solely on Michael Jackson. With permission of philosopher, Jochen Ebmeier, The Michael Jackson Academic Studies have published links to chapters of his recently re-published book from 1999.

This book is a biography, which places Jackson in a broader context of the aesthetic of modern entertainment and art.


4. On Michael Jackson’s Dancing the Dream
By Elizabeth Amisu

Michael Jackson’s words were disseminated in liner notes, magazines and even a blog. His first published book was a 1988 autobiography, Moonwalk; the second, a children’s storybook based on Moonwalker (dir. Jerry Kramer, 1988) and the last, a 1992 publication called Dancing the Dream. ‘On Michael Jackson’s Dancing the Dream’ contextualises this collection of ‘poems and reflections’ within its author’s career and positions a work which Jackson described as ‘more autobiographical than Moonwalk’ as a pivotal moment in his career. The essay poses and answers, using emerging academic study of Jackson’s art, the following questions: ‘what exactly is Dancing the Dream’ and ‘how is it significant’?


5. ‘BAD’ (1987)
By Elizabeth Amisu

Michael Jackson starred in and produced upwards of forty films in a career which showcases many of the most watched short films of all time. The four-minute sequence often perceived to be ‘Bad’ (dir. Martin Scorsese, 1987) is in fact the epicentre of a much longer narrative. Parodied in ‘Moonwalker’ (dir. Jerry Kramer, 1988) in the spirit of ‘Bugsy Malone’ (dir. Alan Parker, 1976), it is nevertheless targeted towards adults. Richard Price’s screenplay was inspired by a 1985 shooting and explores several complex themes. This essay de-constructs ‘Bad’ for its cinematic significance, discussing its cultural relevance and artistry through a shot-by-shot analysis which interprets the film through mise en scène, cinematography, performances and wider context.


6. Langston Hughes’s ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’
By Raven Woods

In 1926, poet and essayist Langston Hughes wrote a short but stirring piece that became a manifesto for the Harlem Renaissance, the great cultural movement that brought Black art, culture, and music to prominence in American society. It occurred to her that much of what Hughes wrote in 1926 could also apply to many of the trials and tribulations that Michael Jackson would endure as an African-American artist more than sixty years later.

Langston Hughes’s ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’