June 29, 2009

"He dubbed himself the King of Pop, which was a pretty daring act."

"Previously in our culture, the King of Jazz was Paul Whiteman and the King of Swing Benny Goodman and the King of Rock and Roll was Elvis Presley, all white men. This, in a way, radically redefined the black performer’s relation to music, made Jackson an auteur. In this way, Jackson may have paved the way for Obama in the sense of black man as auteur and self-mythmaker."

Says Professor Gerald L. Early of Washington University.

I'm keeping track of efforts at scholarly analysis of Michael Jackson.

And I'm also keeping track of the way Barack Obama horns in on everything (with the new tag "Obama is everywhere").

44 comments:

Pogo said...

BHO as Zelig, Forrest Gump, or Walter Mitty.

knox said...

"Obama horns in" is a funner tag than "Obama is everywhere". [Just my un-asked-for 2 cents]

AllenS said...

“We want to celebrate this black man,” Mr. Foxx said of Michael Jackson.

Funny, that. Jackson didn't look black. Nor did he look like a man.

traditionalguy said...

Michael Jackson was the forerunner of the non-threatening black person that transcended racial categories with his talents. So he did indeed smooth out Barack Obama's road to the White House.

NKVD said...
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Sloanasaurus said...

He does have the best selling album of all time - by a pretty wide margin. If you are going to be king of something, you need some of these records.

Still.... Michael Jackson was freakish - in almost every way.

Sloanasaurus said...

I still think that Obama is like Michael Jackson. There is a long list of how similar they are.

We do know that Obama applies Jackson's financial prowess to the federal budget. BY 2012, the whole country will be bankrupt - ready to close Neverland. We will have Barry to thank for that.

Treacle said...

Knox is right: "Obama horns in" is a better tag line.

And it's not daring to give yourself the title of "King of Pop". It's weird.

Pogo said...

Obama will be "King of Pain", though not self-titled.

MadisonMan said...

Althouse has been killing my firefox session on linux lately, but not firefox on my old IBM laptop. I wonder why.

Some of the tributes to Michael Jackson are embarrassingly treacly. Well, I'd be embarrassed by them -- someone like Jackson, a great performer? I think he might like them.

SteveR said...

The commonality is that Al and Jesse have been horning in on both of them.

Paddy O. said...

How about "omnipresent Obama"?

Didn't Jackson not only dub himself King of Pop, but also copyright the title? Somewhere I remember hearing there's was also contractual uses of the word, where as part of his appearances people would have to use this term in introductions and such. Making it a huge marketing tool. It was used to bully people, in a way, into making it, and keeping it, an assumed fact.

Aaron said...

I don’t know. He was supposedly the first to transcend race?

What about, say, Ray Charles?

Or try on Tina Turner and Diana Ross. They had men of all colors entranced. I am going out on a limb here, but I bet millions of white guys wanting those women seriously eroded support for the ban on interracial marriage. Just a theory—after all, I wasn’t even born when Loving v. Virginia occurred—but it sounds logical enough.

And declaring yourself the king of something is just a publicity stunt. Howard Stern did a kind of performance art take-down of that by declaring himself the King of all Media.

I think what it all comes down to is he was able to be “just” a pop star and his color didn’t matter, not because of anything Jackson did specifically but because we were there. I see him less as a trailblazer, and more of just one of many would found success across the color lines.

Anyway, what does it mean to “transcend race” anyway? To have lots of white fans? To have some kind of equality between the percentage of fans who were white v. black. To make his color irrelevant? Well, on that last metric, who are we kidding. His color has been a source of speculation and attacks for years, precisely because of the obvious change.

And if you have seen the reports of his autopsy (gah!), you will see a sad story of a man who was destroying himself and no one seemed to stopped it. I am sure there are some who did love him and just didn’t know what to do. And I am sure there are those who just stood by and did nothing because it was lucrative. Even with my misgivings about his personal life, and my refusal to blame others for his failings, I can still see a sad human story in that.

rhhardin said...

A fan at a memorial says he touched both young and old.

bearbee said...

Lots of royalty and titles among black musicians:

Nat King Cole
Duke Ellington
Count Basie
Aretha Franklin - The Queen of Soul
Dinah Washington -Queen of the Blues
Ella Fitzgerald - Queen of Scat, First Lady of Song
Billie Holiday - Lady Day
Scott Joplin - King of Ragtime
BB King - King of the Blues
Bessie Smith - Empress of the Blues

NKVD said...

Titus, King of Scat, as he has already said he is not a scat queen.

Lem said...
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Lem said...

That was a close call.

nansealinks said...

actually, in the music industry, shouldn't we honor people who stay alive past 60 and still look and feel like the average joe instead of glorifying what the industry does to turn people into shadows of themselves.

Theo Boehm said...
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Pogo said...

I'm still the king of nothing.

bearbee said...

Anyway, what does it mean to “transcend race” anyway? To have lots of white fans? To have some kind of equality between the percentage of fans who were white v. black.

I don't know that he transcended race but he did have global appeal beyond whites.

I was amazed when in watching international news channels shown were fans in China, India, Korea, Japan making memorials and tributes and in Lebanon fans moonwalking.

We are familiar with the Thriller video with Philippine prison inmates.

traditionalguy said...

Pogo for King! The point in Pop Culture when we went past Sidney Poitiers (a black man more attractive than white men, but still a black man) to the icon of a black man whose race really was invisable to whites was the MJ moment. That created the massive sales of his music, and MJ seemes to have realised that he needed to keep up his image as more than Black man. He soon turned his visible bone structure and skin colol into a white man's and finds his public companionship with Liz Taylor and Elvis's daughter. He did a great job surviving the experience considering the obstacles he faced.

Pogo said...

Seals and Crofts sang about my coronation back in 1975.

Summer Breeze will have to do, lacking appropriate video of the ceremony.

Pogo said...

When I ran the mile, I transcended race all the time.

I did in fact win a few, and lost a few, but regardless tended to pass out in the locker room after each race, thus transcending it, and reaching a higher plane of consciousness, or rather unconsciousness.

But sometimes I just threw up.

Fred4Pres said...

Well Howard Stern calls himself the King of All Media. Just sayin'

EDH said...

Important difference: Michael Jackson, unlike Obama, couldn't drag us down with him by force of the state.

rhhardin said...

Run shorter distances, is my advice.

Any distance gets you out of required physical education classes. Why not a short one?

Daryl said...

I was at a major gay pride parade yesterday. People were very, very supportive of gay marriage. People carried signs, buttons, and strategically-placed stickers in favor of gay marriage. They carried signs for all sorts of politicians.

I saw an extremely diverse crowd, including gay leather men, topless dykes, people dressed up as bumblebees, naked men, gays wearing wedding veils, dykes on bikes, straight couples bringing kids in strollers, etc.--but I didn't see a single expression of support for Barack Obama, and I must have walked past a thousand people.

That's not really surprising, given how he's broken his promise to repeal DOMA and kept his promise not to support gay marriage. But it's certainly a CHANGE from eight months ago.

Aaron said...

Btw, I have an annoucement to make. From this day forward, i am to be referred to as "The King of Comment Boards."

And i am trascending race so much that you can't even tell what color I am.

Geoff Matthews said...

Before Jacko, wasn't there Stevie Wonder, Bill Cosby, and heck, MLK Jr?

Michael Jackson didn't pave the way for Obama, he was another recipeint of the work done before him. Sure, he may have cleared the road a little, but the heavy lifting was already done before he released Thriller.

Pogo said...

rhhardin said..."Run shorter distances, is my advice".

But race would not have been transcended!

Plus, my Dad required us to be in in a sport and since I couldn't play baseball and my 440 and 880 relay split times were laughable, distance running it was!

rhhardin said...

I started out in the mile and cross country and quickly discovered that the 220 and 440 were a lot easier.

Today they've changed all the distances to centigrade of course.

bearbee said...

The King of Pop as The Trinity

MadisonMan said...

Today they've changed all the distances to centigrade of course.

Limited to 100 steps?

Tex the Pontificator said...

Speaking of musical "kings":

Bob Wills: King of Western Swing

John Lee Hooker: King of the Boogie

traditionalguy said...

Rh...Very few ran the 880 (Half mile) because it would shame or kill off most who ran it in dual-meets.

Pogo said...

"Today they've changed all the distances to centigrade of course."

So it's like, what, a hundredth as far now?

Geoff Matthews said...

Should we save this template for when Brittany Spears shuffles off this mortal coil?

Revenant said...

And it's not daring to give yourself the title of "King of Pop". It's weird.

It might be daring or it might be weird, but it was certainly inappropriate -- his career was on an unmistakable downward trajectory when he assumed that title.

kentuckyliz said...

MJ transcended race and appealed to whites because he wasn't a big raw sexy strong black stud with muscles and a deep voice singing about being a sex machine

he was wimpy and scrawny and high pitched and femmie and unthreatening

so whaddya think???

Largo said...

I am the King of Town.

A.G said...

Ok, I wanna set a few things straight here, even if this was written 2 years ago and that its highly unlikly anyone will ever read this, but still. Firstly, Michael Jackson did NOT dub himself king of pop, Elizabeth Taylor did! MJ had nothing to do with it, he was a kind and humble man. secondly, he did not 'change his race' that is IMPOSSIBLE. he got a disiese called Vitiligo (google it if u got no idea, which u guys probably don't, considering your invalid arguments). Vitiligo makes u go all patchy, and being a famous man, being patchy probably isn't ideal for magazine covers, and also, some people even called him a 'cow', because of this skin desiese. So the reason he appeared entirely white is because he wore a LOT of makeup to cover up the un-even patches. He became the 'unusual' man he was, because of people like you guys, being nasty and everything. He also never new what a 'normal' like was like, because he's been famous his whole life. He was a misjudged and disrespected man.

EdgardoVOlaes said...

Michael Jackson, whether he declared himself as such, it's up to his fans, if they like it or not.
His fans have been outpouring in believing that he really deserves that monarchial music title. They had a gargantuan response that, truly it fits for himself…. ONLY. Being the KING OF POP.

By Edgardo Valentino D. Olaes