The world lost one of its most famous and accomplished entertainers, Michael Jackson in 2009. As the New Year arrives, it’s been announced that the United States national film archives will add Jackson’s landmark Thriller video to its collection; this will be the first music video included in the archives.
Released in 1982, both the Thriller video and the album was a watershed moment in American pop culture. While already famous for his work in the Jackson five and previous solo albums, Jackson’s worldwide fame reached almost inconceivable heights as Thriller presented both a sound and visual display that was like nothing before. He was able to adroitly fuse r&b, rock, dance and even a hint of jazz without diluting any of them. Likewise, his sense of style and showmanship transcended the music world and gave Jackson a worldwide influence not seen before or since. While his popularity in the United States may have ‘only’ rivaled that of the Beatles from a generation before, no other artist had capture populations in every corner of the world the way Jackson did.
Michael Jackson, however, was an unusual man. And while his unique abilities, talents and perspectives unquestionably led to his fame and success, they also gave fodder to his critics, who grew in number dramatically in his later life.
Before his death in 2009, Jackson had been accused twice, once in the 1990’s and again in the 2000’s, of sexual involvement with children. Despite the fact that Jackson was never found guilty of anything in a a court of law, the allegations proved damaging to his image and to his mainstream appeal. Jackson sadly lost much of his fan support, though he always maintained a loyal cadre of believers in the man, his music, and his stated messages of love and peace.
To the world at large, however, after his death, there seems to be a growing sense that perhaps the man was treated unfairly in life. One of his accusers, Jordan Chandler, has fully admitted that the charges he levied on Jackson were fabricated.
While it is certainly premature to say that the public at large believes all is forgiven when it comes to Jackson, the inclusion of Thriller into the United States national film archive is as clear an indication yet that the world may be ready to focus on his contributions as an artist as through history’s lens the accusations and innuendo concerning Jackson during his life seem questionable at best and horrific at worst.
Source: NME Staff, “Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video added to US national film archive”, NME.com