MJ Studies Today

MJ Studies Today from The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies

MJ Studies Today is a monthly academic column, published by The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies, which presents an up-to-date look at the world of Michael Jackson Studies as it exists right now, including informative articles and views that you may have missed. Written by academics who specialize in the field of a range of academic disciplines, it aims to keep the community up-to-date.

As part of MJ Studies Today, we also welcome a host of insightful and well-informed guest contributors who provide opinion pieces featuring their ideas on the important resonance of Michael Jackson and how he is perceived in the modern era.

Find out how you can submit your article to The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies here.

LATEST COLUMN BY KERRY HENNIGAN

MJ Studies Today Columns (2016)

  1. MJ Studies Today I (14-01-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    January 2016 discusses the cover-reveal of ‘The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife‘ by Elizabeth Amisu.
  2. MJ Studies Today II (14-02-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    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.
  3. MJ Studies Today III (15-03-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    March 2016 discusses the screening of Spike Lee’s new documentary, ‘Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall’
  4. MJ Studies Today IV (14-04-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    April 2016 has been incredibly exciting and thought-provoking in the world of Michael Jackson Studies.
  5. MJ Studies Today V (14-05-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    May 2016 is all about the academic study of Michael Jackson’s art, cultural impact and critical reception.
  6. MJ Studies Today VI (15-06-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    June 2016 is all about The Journal of Michael Jackson Studies on Vindication Day.
  7. MJ Studies Today VII (14-07-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    July 2016 is all about the movement of ideas in Michael Jackson Studies, as we move nearer to the publication of The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife.
  8. MJ Studies Today VIII (14-08-16) – Elizabeth Amisu
    August 2016 celebrates the 58thyear since Michael Joseph Jackson was born. It’s a touching time for the millions of Michael Jackson fans and students around the world. It is the final column from Elizabeth.
  9. MJ Studies Today IX (14-09-16) – Kerry Hennigan
    September 2016 introduces new columnist, Kerry Hennigan, who takes a look at ‘the impact of Michael Jackson on popular culture’ and ‘the many ways fans have of expressing their appreciation of, and love for him.’
  10. MJ Studies Today X (14-10-2016) – Kerry Hennigan
    In the October column, Kerry Hennigan talks about the role of advocacy as part of the Michael Jackson fan phenomenon.
  11. MJ Studies Today XI (14-11-2016) – Kerry Hennigan
    In the November column, Kerry Hennigan examines the ‘why’ of the life and work of Michael Jackson.
  12. MJ Studies Today XII (14-12-2016) – Kerry Hennigan
    In the December column, Kerry Hennigan examines Michael Jackson’s fascination for the film noir genre.

MJ Studies Today Columns (2017)

  1. MJ Studies Today XIII (14-01-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In the first column of this year, Kerry Hennigan continues her research to Michael Jackson’s fascination for the film noir genre.
  2. MJ Studies Today XIV (14-02-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this column, Kerry Hennigan wonders why Michael Jackson suggested burning tabloids while knowing the history of the burning of books and pamphlets in the medieval period, and the Nazi book burning.
  3. MJ Studies Today XV (14-03-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this column, Kerry Hennigan discusses the way fans express their passion and solidarity with Michael Jackson.
  4. MJ Studies Today XVI (14-04-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this column, Kerry Hennigan analyses Earth Song, the meaning and importance of this classic in Michael Jackson’s catalogue.
  5. MJ Studies Today XVII (14-05-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    Kerry Hennigan describes why she had the feeling Michael Jackson was different from his siblings when she visited the Michael Jackson Oneshow in Las Vegas.
  6. MJ Studies Today XVIII (14-06-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    Kerry Hennigan looks into the phenomenon of how Michael Jackson is missed by so many people when they have never met him personally or seen him in concert.
  7. MJ Studies Today IXX (14-07-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    Kerry Hennigan discusses the father figures in Michael Jackson’s career
  8. MJ Studies Today XX (14-08-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    Kerry Hennnigan experienced that we can still learn a lot from Michael Jackson and his care for people. Michael Jackson had no constrictions when helping those in need.
  9. MJ Studies Today XXI (14-09-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In her September column, Kerry Hennigan discusses how each of us can celebrate Michael Jackson at home. She encourages fans to ‘do their own thing’.
  10. MJ Studies Today XXII (14-10-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In her October column, Kerry discusses art exhibitions that concern Michael Jackson. Artists from around the world are inspired by Michael Jackson and the National Portrait Gallery will exhibit numerous artists next summer.
  11. MJ Studies Today XIII (14-11-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    The November column of Kerry is part 2 of pictures, art made of Michael Jackson. Photos where he was the model himself and photos where he was not, but, as Kerry states, an image of an impersonator challenging the viewer, as Michael Jackson always challenged himself and his audience.
  12. MJ Studies Today XIV (14-12-2017) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this issue Kerry discusses Michael Jackson’s creative legacy and the different, often conflicting views  that surrounds them.

MJ Studies Today Columns (2018)

  1. MJ Studies Today XV (14-01-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this column, Kerry examines and questions the number of songs actually written by Michael Jackson for the release of bad. Are they all really recorded, or are they fragments and not yet finished songs; a discussion worth looking into.
  2. MJ Studies Today (14-02-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this column, Kerry discusses the friendship of Gregory Peck and Michael Jackson, their love for art and how ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ plays a significant role in their relationship.
  3. MJ Studies Today (14-03-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this column, Kerry Hennigan looks at Michael Jackson’s performances of “Earth Song” on awards shows, and specifically the BRITs Awards in 1996 and the controversy that was generated by protests at what some thought of as his depiction of himself as a Christ-like figure.
  4. MJ Studies Today (14-04-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry looks at the friendship between Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. Despite intense media scrutiny they managed to stay friends until the ends of their lives, including supporting each other through career ups and downs, good times and bad. The media called them “Hollywood’s Odd Couple” – but if we look beyond tabloid gossip, we can glimpse what made their friendship one that was so close and enduring.
  5. MJ Studies Today (14-05-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry discusses the media output on items of Michael Jackson auctioned possessions, and how these get distorted to create confusion. What happened to the truth, do we still care, she asks?
  6. MJ Studies Today (14-06-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    This month, which marks the 9th anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson, Kerry looks at how such “seismic” events become milestones for society in general and fans in particular.  She also looks at the various ways we commemorate the occasion and what might best serve his legacy.
  7. MJ Studies Today (14-07-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the song and video for Michael Jackson’s “Blood on the Dance Floor” which, when released in 1997, displayed a new, aggressive sound and sensual attitude for Jackson.  She discusses the durability of its impact 21 years after it was released.
  8. MJ Studies Today (14-08-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan discusses the use of Michael Jackson’s vocals by other artists since the King of Pop’s passing in 2009.  Using examples both authorized and unauthorized, she considers the reaction of fans and family members to these tracks and how they might reflect on Jackson’s own artistic legacy.
  9. MJ Studies Today (14-09-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan discusses how history will perceive Michael Jackson and ponders if there will come a time when his name will cease to be associated with unwanted controversy. She then poses the question of who should write the real story of Michael Jackson for future students of the arts and popular culture so that they can better appreciate his positive global impact.
  10. MJ Studies Today (14-10-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the history of Pepsi Cola’s sponsorship of Michael Jackson, both before and after the accident in 1984 that resulted in him suffering serious burns with life-long consequences. She also looks at subsequent deals Michael, and later his Estate made with Pepsi and proposes a way for fans to think past the controversy that surrounds the company’s continuing association with him.
  11. MJ Studies Today (14-11-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan discusses the importance of remembering to listen to Michael Jackson’s music and watch his videos purely as a fan rather than as a researcher or academic. She suggests that, with no specific agenda in mind, we are better able to enjoy the work and absorb the messages Michael wished to convey with his art. This can lead to even greater appreciation and a state called “blissing the mind” – a term Kerry employs to describe the feeling that comes from surrendering to the music and enjoying it without prescribed expectations.
  12. MJ Studies Today (14-12-2018) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at Michael Jackson’s art and beliefs about childhood in the context of the work of some of the Romantic poets and authors from the Golden Age of children’s literature. She suggests that considering Jackson’s work as a modern expression of the same Romantic tradition can lead to a better understanding of his creative vision.

MJ Studies Today Columns (2019)

  1. MJ Studies Today (14-01-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at Michael Jackson’s shout out to his audiences in his performances, short films and songs.  She also considers his recording of the 1959 Isley Brothers’ song “Shout” which contains some powerful new lyrics.  She queries Jackson’s intentions with his celebrated roar and suggests the song provides a clue as to what these might have been.
  2. MJ Studies Today (14-02-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan uses one of the art pieces in the Michael Jackson On the Wall exhibition to examine the way Jackson’s art and his appearance were shaped in part by the various traumas he experienced and the choices he made to deal with them.  Kerry believes it is important to acknowledge the formative role they played in the development of his art and the shaping of his persona from 1984 onwards.
  3. MJ Studies Today (14-03-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan discusses the latest controversy and the ongoing negativity in the media who keeps persecuting him. She asks what it is that Michael Jackson is constantly prosecuted time and time again.
  4. MJ Studies Today (14-04-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at resources that tell positive stories of Michael Jackson at Neverland Valley Ranch. These books present first-hand narratives completely at odds with the negative media that has recently been circulating about the ranch and its owner and his purpose for creating his own amusement park.
  5. MJ Studies Today (14-05-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    This month we look at Michael Jackson’s iconic single white glove and how its wearer made it an enduring pop culture artefact that is referenced in connection to Michael even in 2019. Kerry Hennigan examines Michael’s reasons for wearing the glove in the early years of his adult career, and how that changed as he matured into the King of Pop.
  6. MJ Studies Today (14-06-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    Since Michael Jackson’s passing ten years ago this month, various stories have circulated via social media and the internet claiming that Jackson is still alive and even planning a “comeback”. In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan looks at these death hoax conspiracy theories in the context of death denial phenomena and discusses why these sometimes arise following the loss of a well-known and much-admired public figure like Jackson.
  7. MJ Studies Today (14-07-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at Michael Jackson’s legacy as a dancer capable of expressing emotions ranging from the angelic to the ghoulish in his choreography for the stage and in videos. She also looks at some of the artists Jackson himself credited for inspiring him and what it is that makes him unique based on the observations of his dance collaborators.
  8. MJ Studies Today (14-08-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    Fans of Michael Jackson have taken to streaming his music online as a show of support for his legacy. Contributing to an increase in his steaming figures for the first half of 2019 according to Nielsen. In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan uses the random shuffle play content of a recent streaming session to give closer examination to some of Jackson’s recordings. She finds there is always something new to discover about Jackson’s art, his creative processes and his collaborators.
  9. MJ Studies Today (14-09-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    Michael Jackson liked to create magic with his live performances which often included an actual “magic trick” or illusion devised especially for the King of Pop by a professional magician, some of whom became his personal friends. In this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan looks at some of the illusions employed by Jackson in his shows and the individuals who helped craft them.
  10. MJ Studies Today (14-09-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the work of Michael Jackson as explored in the newly revised edition of Joseph Vogel’s book “Man in the Music” (2019) and Brice Najar’s “Let’s make HIStory” (2016) and considers how the examination of Jackson’s artistic output and his creative processes can tell us much about the man himself and how he expressed his feelings about matters both personal and global.
  11. MJ Studies Today (14-10-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    This month’s MJ Studies Today is Part 2 of #StreamingMJ – being the examination of songs selected at random by our columnist Kerry Hennigan’s music streaming service. The songs in Part 2 are from the 1990s and 2000s and are some of Michael Jackson’s most sensuous compositions.
  12. MJ Studies Today (14-12-2019) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at Michael Jackson’s continued influence on, and musical dominance of the Halloween season through his Gothic pop pieces like “Thriller” and “Ghosts” and considers the importance of the genre as a medium for Jackson to respond to his harshest critics even from beyond the grave.

MJ Studies Today Columns (2020)

  1. MJ Studies Today (14-01-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    The Michael Jackson On the Wall exhibition has toured some of the major cities in Europe and drawn crowds in every location. This month our columnist Kerry Hennigan discusses the exhibition as she experienced it at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland.
  2. MJ Studies Today (14-02-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the recently published book by filmmaker and special effects wizard Colin Chilvers, specifically the chapter that tells the story behind the making of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” a short film which Chilvers directed.
  3. MJ Studies Today (14-03-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan continues her reflections on the Michael Jackson On the Wall exhibition as displayed at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland. In looking into the stories behind some of her favourite pieces, she discovers that the artists who created them share a reverential attitude towards the King of Pop as expressed in their work.
  4. MJ Studies Today (14-04-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at Michael Jackson’s cover of the Beatles hit song “Come Together”. She discusses the reasoning behind Jackson’s recording of the song, the curious nature of its lyrics, and what we can learn from the artist’s performance of it both in the studio and on stage.
  5. MJ Studies Today (14-05-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    n this column, Kerry Hennigan discusses the matter of Michael Jackson’s wearing of masks and some of the speculation that has arisen around his motivations for this, given the precautionary measures recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic. Does this mean, as some tabloids have suggested, that Jackson prophesized such a pandemic?
  6. MJ Studies Today (14-06-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the way Michael Jackson’s musical legacy continues to be adopted by various social causes. She focuses in this instance on the popularity of his song “Heal the World” during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 and explores the social history of the song since its release in 1991.
  7. MJ Studies Today (14-07-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    William Shakespeare and Michael Jackson both cemented their fame with early major successes, work often considered their “greatest hits”; but neither of them stopped creating after that. In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan challenges the popular perceptions of Shakespeare as an Elizabethan poet and playwright, and Jackson as a performer supposedly at his peak in the 1980s.
  8. MJ Studies Today (14-08-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the recent 25th Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s double album “HIStory: Past, Present & Future – Book 1” and the acknowledgement of the milestone by the fans and the Jackson Estate.  The fifteen tracks Jackson recorded for Disc 2 of the album are highlighted as deserving of greater scrutiny and appreciation as the most personal and/or most political material in Jackson’s entire catalogue.
  9. MJ Studies Today (14-09-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at some of the virtual celebrations for Michael Jackson’s birthday in the pandemic year of 2020. In addition to providing opportunities for making global connections, she suggests it has been a lesson in how we can come together in common cause when we share a vision; specifically, Michael Jackson’s vision for a better world.
  10. MJ Studies Today (14-10-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    This month’s MJ Studies Today column looks at Michael Jackson’s skill as a balladist. From his childhood recordings of songs like “Who’s Loving You” to his adult career and material such as “Smile” and “You Are Not Alone”, Jackson’s ability to bring feeling and soul to the slower material in his catalogue was praised by those who witnessed the amount of work and preparation he put into each recording.
  11. MJ Studies Today (14-11-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    “Michael Jackson’s This Is It”, the movie, premiered eleven years ago – on October 28, 2009, just four months after the King of Pop’s death had shocked the world. Opinions on the film have differed markedly amongst Jackson’s fan-base, but in this month’s column, Kerry Hennigan considers what the film has meant, not only for Jackson’s legacy but for members of his creative team who were with Michael on the last night of his life.
  12. MJ Studies Today (14-12-2020) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan continues her discussion of ballads and love songs recorded by Michael Jackson, commenced in our October 2020 column.  The songs examined in Part 2 are “She’s Out of My Life”, “Liberian Girl” and “Childhood.”  This month’s column is dedicated to the memory of celebrated sound engineer Bruce Swedien, who died 16 November 2020, aged 86 and who contributed so much to Jackson’s recordings.

MJ Studies Today Columns (2021)

  1. MJ Studies Today (14-01-2021) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the global extent of Michael Jackson’s achievements on various national music charts over the length of his career and his musical afterlife, and in particular the extent of his popularity outside of his country of birth.
  2. MJ Studies Today (14-02-2021) – Kerry Hennigan
    In this month’s MJ Studies Today column, Kerry Hennigan looks at the recording of the new songs included on Michael Jackson’s best-selling remix album “Blood on the Dance Floor” as documented by author Brice Najar in his recently released book title Book on the Dance Floor: Let’s Make HIStory in the Mix.
  3. MJ Studies Today (14-03-2021) – Kerry Hennigan
    This month’s MJ Studies Today column looks at Michael Jackson’s performance at halftime of the Super Bowl game in 1993, how and why it came about, and it’s legacy as a landmark in the broadcast history of the Super Bowl.