Monday, June 29, 2009

A Forgotten Black Revolutionary Music Video: The Michael Jackson that the Capitalists Don't Mourn For...

1 comment:

Drew said...

Caleb,

While it's interesting and does show some level of social conscience and, perhaps, a systemic understanding of injustice, I have to disagree with your description of it as being "revolutionary."
Actually, your title is a reference to MJ, the person, as a "black revolutionary," not just the song. There are several aspects of the video that should be troubling from a Marxist standpoint.
1. Start with the politics of the song. MJ idoesn't get any farther left than FDR and MLK Jr. (not Cannon, Trotsky, Paul Robeson or a hundred others he could have named), the former, a blue-blood, east coast liberal who swooped down to save capitalism from growing working class opposition. The latter, a black social democrat who didn't get much farther left than the Second International and was pacifist, godhead to boot.

2. It entire video takes place in a prison. Given much of working class culture these days and the video's lack of any distinction btwn. those in for truly anti-social and violent crimes vs. those in for victimless crimes or framed up, the overall impact is apparently offer a "get out of jail free" card to all the imprisoned. Unfortunately, there is already far too much of this kind of romanticizing of prison "culture." If he had any revolutionary impulse, he would, at least, have flashed some pics. of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Joe Hill, Paul Robeson, Geromino Pratt, etc.

3. The apparent message of the video seems to be despair since no revolutionary or working-class based solution is ever even hinted at. It's not even clear who the "they" is in the title. Not even a nod toward working class solidarity ala Charlie Chaplin in The Little Tramp.

Well, this is a start. I do think it was worth posting on your blog. It does show a side of MJ that he didn't expose much for obvious reasons. Profits, fame and and an oh-so palatable social message of a color-blind world were really, in the final analysis, all he was most concerned about.

Any thoughts?