Martin's Reviews > On Michael Jackson

On Michael Jackson by Margo Jefferson
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May 02, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

This sometimes feels like an overlong grad student paper. Although the author is quite intelligent, I often felt like she was more in love with her own writing than anyone else could ever be. She can be quite clever and occasionally tickled me with assertions such as, “Knowing Michael had not one, but two sons named Prince Michael, Jermaine would trump him, upping the ante on black nomenclature, by christening his son Jermajesty.” She is best when writing about the Jackson family, at which point she combines pop psychology with wry wit. The sections on fame, commodity, race and gender tend to become dry with academic vernacular and occasionally overreaching. However, interesting parallels are drawn between young Michael and Shirley Temple, and old Michael and faded stars like Doris Day and Brigitte Bardot “who cope with the passage of time by retreating to a protective haven that excludes most other adults. There they devote themselves to loving creatures that need protection, usually dogs.” The author then points to Diana Ross and Elizabeth Taylor as providing this form of mothering, and then takes it a step further by saying that Michael too became like these divas when he started sheltering child stars such as Emmanuel Lewis and Macaulay Culkin. Overall, there are some interesting ideas and some pleasing zingers, but I’m not sure it was worth my time in the end. Glad I finally got around to reading it, though.
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