On Michael Jackson

On Michael Jackson

Book - 2006
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Michael Jackson was once universally acclaimed as a song-and-dance man of genius; Wacko Jacko is now, more often than not, dismissed for his bizarre race and gender transformations and confounding antics, even as he is commonly reviled for the child molestation charges twice brought against him. Whence the weirdness and alleged criminality? How to account for Michael Jackson's rise and fall? InOn Michael Jackson--an at once passionate, incisive, and bracing work of cultural analysis--Pulitzer Prize--winning critic forThe New York Times Margo Jeffersonbrilliantly unravels the complexities of one of the most enigmatic figures of our time. Who is Michael Jackson and what does it mean to call him a "What Is It"? What do P. T. Barnum, Peter Pan, and Edgar Allan Poe have to do with our fascination with Jackson? How did his curious Victorian upbringing and his tenure as a child prodigy on the "chitlin' circuit" inform his character and multiplicity of selves? How is Michael Jackson's celebrity related to the outrageous popularity of nineteenth-century minstrelsy? What is the perverse appeal of child stars for grown-ups and what is the price of such stardom for these children and for us? What uncanniness provoked Michael Jackson to become "Alone of All His Race, Alone of All Her Sex," while establishing himself as an undeniably great performer with neo-Gothic, dandy proclivities and a producer of visionary music videos? What do we find so unnerving about Michael Jackson's presumed monstrosity? In short, how are we all of us implicated? In her stunning first book, Margo Jefferson gives us the incontrovertible lowdown on call-him-what-you-wish; she offers a powerful reckoning with a quintessential, richly allusive signifier of American society and popular culture.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, c2006
ISBN: 9780375423260
Characteristics: 146 p. ; 20 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 07, 2016

Really weird book...but I'm gonna talk all about it because it's so weird! Margo Jefferson has a very unique writing style and general approach to biographical subjects, treating them more like freaks than human beings. Is she being ironic, as she goes on to discuss MJ's biggest influence when it came to his public image, PT Barnum? PT Barnum who traded on the public's fascination with so-called freaks?

I've read a lot on the Jackson family (no shame) and came across what can be referred to as inconsistencies, as a matter of record (not opinion). Example: Jefferson refers to Marlon Jackson as the saddest Jacskon brother of all, when in fact he's the only sibling of all except the oldest, Rebbie, who's had a long healthy marriage, raised nice, "normal" kids, and is a stakeholder in major Black entertainment media companies. He's also the only sibling other than Rebbie who has never had his name tossed into a scandal salad. Jermaine and Randy are a mess and fathered children with the same woman. Tito's ex-wife and mother of his sons was murdered at home by her boyfriend and dumped in the pool. Jackie and Paula Abdul and expensive divorce! Oh and Jermaine and Paula Abdul happened, and so did divorce for Jermaine as a result! And isn't Randy, the one who ended up in prison and psychiatric facilities for physically abusing his pregnant wife, the one who could be considered the saddest or worst off? Jefferson even includes that Randy tidbit. I really like #MargoJefferson, but I'm a stickler for details and facts in biographies! This is a strange meditation in MJ and his influences. The chapters on Motown's "corporation" business model and breakdowns of Jackson 5 songs were just fascinating. Jefferson shows how Michael was used shamelessly to court adult audiences -- male and female -- by sexualizing him at such a young age. I've read a lot on MJ, but learned quite a bit from this tiny tome.

This is a really good book if you like MJ, bios on MJ or bios on celebrities. MJ makes a fascinating subject, especially when written by someone who doesn't quite follow rules or conventions. You'll like this book too if you are just a story lover, because Jefferson is telling us the lesser-told story of Michael Jackson.

At 125 pages long, it's a short, quick read, but gave me a lot to think about and explore.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top