Friday, June 26, 2009

The King of Pop Culture, Too

The security guard at the Aon Building--she of bright brown eyes and a pretty smile--sat behind the guard's desk yesterday, bummed. The light was gone.

"Michael, man," she told me. "That hurt my heart to hear that." She said she was a kid when "Thriller" came out in late 1982. She pestered her mother to get her a Michael Jackson jacket and a "Thriller" T-shirt to wear with it. And when she got it, she was the envy of her school.

You can't overstate the pop culture force Michael Jackson was during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He reshaped music, yes. But also fashion, dance, hair styles and--with the then-ground breaking 1984 Pepsi commercial above--advertising. No musical artist since has been able to that. In fact, the nearest example I can think of is not an entertainer, but an athlete: Michael Jordan

Listen to "You Are The One," a pretty decent, but now-forgotten 1982 Old School track from Alfonzo:

Weird Al's demented parody of MJ's "Beat It" video (and song):

MJ turned this otherwise mediocre song into a pop classic (and, now, an insurance company jingle) by simply singing the seven-word hook:

Alfonso Ribeiro makes fun of his "Pepsi Kid" origins in this episode of the "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air":

We close the Closet with this inspired bit from the late 1990s "Jaime Foxx Show." Look what happens at 1:35. I include this because by then, in the public eye, the Wacko Jacko persona had almost eclipsed the pop superstar Jackson. But Jamie and the terribly underrated Christopher B. Duncan--and the reaction from the audience--give MJ his due:


Joyce Owens said...

Yeah, he was the KING all the way around. Comprehensive post!

Manumitted Negro said...

Thanks, Joyce!
It was fun finding that stuff, too. My favorite is the Jamie Foxx dance off. I saw that on a rerun of his show a while ago and couldn't stop laughing. I think the underlying message of the bit is kinda touching now