FamousArtist: Michael Jackson
FamousArtist: Michael Jackson
Musichas helped many people gain reputation and increase their popularity.However, the effectiveness of music as a tool to build reputationdepends on the artist’s ability to select themes and a set ofsocial norms that they subscribe to. This paper will analyze MichaelJackson, who was a famous musician, not only in the U.S., butglobally. Michael Jackson was born in 1958 and died in the year 2009(Famous People Lessons, 2010, p. 2). This paper will mainly focus onhistorical issues that set Michael Jackson in his historical context,how issued of historical interpretation influenced his reputation,the effect of social values on construction of reputation, and areflection on views on innovation and tradition that are related toJackson’s work and reputation.
Issuesinvolved in setting Michael Jackson in his historical context
Thereare several issues that played a key role in setting Michael Jacksonin his historical context, but three of them are more important.First, the issue of racial discrimination was so common duringJackson’s childhood and throughout his lifetime. Being born inblack-American family was in itself an issue of concern to Jacksonand other black Americans. Racism was considered to be normal,insidious, and accepted between 1950s and 1970s, during the time inwhich Jackson was born and spend his childhood (Lind, 2013, p. 1).The environment that was characterized by racial discrimination,especially against the black Americans was among the key factors thatinfluenced Jackson’s background and his career.
Secondly,most of the themes and conducts of Jackson indicate that he was bornand brought up in a time when social injustice was common in theAmerican society. The respect for civil rights was quite low. Casesof drug abuse, the spread of infectious diseases (including theSTIs), homelessness, and hunger were the order of the day (Pareles,2015, p. 1). This implies that the cases of social injustice in hisenvironment influenced his career and life in general.
Third,social and family setting was quite different between the 1950s andthe 1980s. It was during this period when Jackson was born and joineda career in singing. During this period, child beating, especiallyamong the African Americans was perceived to be an effective methodof disciplining children (Jackson, 2014, p. 19). Jackson and hissiblings were not an exemption because his father used to beat himseriously and could not regret about it since it was a social norm atthat time.
Effectof issues of historical interpretation on Jackson’s reputation
Jacksonwas born in the period in which the war for the respect of civilrights was high. The minority groups, especially the black Americansfelt that they were being mistreated in nearly all aspects of life.These groups formed the civil rights movements to fight for theirposition in the American society (Lind, 2013, p. 2). To this end,anyone who could make a significant contribution to advance the fightfor the respect of the rights of all people irrespective of thesocial characteristics could be perceived as a hero by the oppressedgroups and the members of the dominant communities who felt thatequality was necessary in the U.S. Anti-racism was the most commontheme in Jackson’s songs, which made him an outstanding artist whomanaged to make the best use of his talent to advance the rights ofhis people. For example, the video “Black or White” advocates forthe rights of all people irrespective of their color.
Theissue of social injustice and cruelty of human beings made asignificant contribution towards the development of Jackson’sreputation. By composing songs that oppose social ills (such as thespread of HIV, drugs, and hunger), Jackson attracted the attention ofmillions of fans. For example, the song “Why you wanna trip on me”addressed the major issues (such as AIDs, homelessness, and hunger)that affected many Americans and people living in other parts of theworld (Jackson, 2014, p. 69). Moreover, some songs (such as EarthSong) addressed the issue of human cruelty and the destructive natureof human beings. The song sought to sensitize people about thesignificance of protecting the environment at a time in which climatechange and animal rights were highly debated issues. The combinationof themes that touched on issues that affected the lives of thepeople at the moment increases Jackson’s popularity.
Theuse of historical evidence for construction of reputation
Jacksonis among the artists who managed to produce songs in different genresand all of them touched on sensitive issues that touched the lives ofhis audience. He was able to get messages from historical events andconvey that message through music. The ability to select themes onhistorical events that were being debated at a given moment depictedJackson as an up-to-date artist who was mindful of the issuesaffecting the minority. In essence, Jackson’s ability to selectthemes that revolved around historical issues in the minds of thepeople at a given time enhanced his popularity.
Influenceof social values on the construction of reputation of Jackson
MichaelJackson always attributed his success to the social values that helearned from his parents. Joe Jackson, Michael’s father used toforce him and his brothers to rehearse by whipping them (MTVNetworks, 2015, p. 1). Although some people have criticized this bystating that it was child abuse, Jackson considered it as a form ofstrict discipline since whipping of children was normal in thosedays. In addition, Jackson never failed to mention that her mother,Katherine Jackson, was a devout member of Jehovah Witness, which gavehim an opportunity to learn some moral values. However, Jackson wasaccused twice for sexually abusing children, which had a negativeimpact on his reputation.
MichaelJackson did not focus so much on traditions, but he was an innovativeartist who was determined to change the music industry. For example,Jackson created a new perception that music was not just a tool forentertainment and preservation of traditional values, but it could beused to break racial barriers (MTV Networks, 2015, p. 1). Inaddition, the use of videos in music was an underdeveloped innovationmany musicians used it only as an accompaniment to their music.However, Jackson changed this notion in his “Thriller” bydemonstrating that videos could be used to tell a comprehensivestory. In addition, Jackson revolutionized the music industry byshowing that all songs in a given album should contain quality music,and not just a single quality music that traditional musicians usedto add to an album in order to attract sales.
MichaelJackson is a famous musician who managed to revolutionize the musicindustry during his lifetime. His reputation in the music sectorcould be attributed to multiple factors, including his ability toselect themes that were based on critical issues that affected peopleat a given time. In addition, Jackson’s ability to produce qualitymusic in different genres gave him an opportunity to break racialbarriers and use music as an effective tool to address the issue ofracism that mainly affected the black Americans. Social values thathe gained from his strict father and his religious mother helped himbuild on his reputation. However, being implicated in cases of rapewas a drawback in Jackson’s career as a musician and hisreputation.
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Jackson,Y. 2014. MichaelJackson Moonwalk chapter one: Just kids with a dream.San Francisco: Academic.edu.
Lind,W., 2013. Racismin 1950s, 60s was normal, accepted, and insidious.Santa Monica: Demand Media.
MTVNetworks, 2015. Michael Jackson’s secret childhood: About theepisode. MTVNetworks.[Online]. Available at: <https://web.archive.org/web/20080915120706/http:/www.vh1.com/shows/dyn/vh1_news_presents/82010/episode_about.jhtml>[Accessed 9 November 2015].
Pareles,J., 2015. Recordings view Michael Jackson in the electronicwilderness. NewYork Timed.[Online]. Available at: <http://www.nytimes.com/1991/11/24/arts/recordings-view-michael-jackson-in-the-electronic-wilderness.html>[Accessed 9 November 2015].