Thank You

Willa: So Joie, can you believe we’ve just finished our third season of posts at Dancing with the Elephant?

Joie: Did you ever think it would run this long, Willa? I know I didn’t. And I honestly can’t believe we’re coming up on the 5 year anniversary of Michael’s passing. That blows my mind.

Willa: You know, it’s funny – sometimes it feels like he’s been gone a really long time – longer than five years – and sometimes it feels like it just happened. I mean, you’d think after five years it wouldn’t hurt so much, but it still does.

I just read a powerful article, “Throwing Stones to Hide Your Hands: The Mortal Persona of Michael Jackson,” by Elizabeth Amisu, where she compares the media persecution he had to endure to a public stoning, and it really struck a chord with me. It did feel at times like a public stoning – or at the very least, a very public kind of bullying. It’s almost like he was bullied to death. And it’s just really hard to come to grips with that – not just with his death, but with all the events the last 16 years of his life leading up to his death.

Joie: Hmm. Bullied to death. That’s an interesting way to put it, but unfortunately, it’s completely accurate.

So … Willa and I had something special in mind for today’s post, however …

Willa: However … it’s not quite ready. That’s my fault. I thought it would be ready in time, but it isn’t.

Joie: It’s not her fault. … In any case, we’re simply going to leave you with our heartfelt gratitude for your continued support.

Willa: Yes, we both wanted to say a very sincere thank you to all of you. Our goal from the beginning was to explore the many facets of Michael Jackson’s art in all its wondrous complexity, to learn more about his art as well as his ideas about art, and maybe help change the way people think about him and his art, and how he used his art to bring about social change.

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve joined us on this journey, and thanks especially to those who’ve participated in the conversation and shared your ideas. We’ve learned so much from you.

Joie: Yes. Thank you! So, getting back to that special project … when it’s completed, we will post it right here.

Willa: And we hope that will be soon. As most of you probably know, we don’t publish new posts from June 25th to August 29th. Instead, each year during that time we revisit some of our older posts that we think deserve a second look, and we’ll be starting Summer Rewind 2014 in a couple of weeks. We hope the special post will be ready before then.

Joie: But if it isn’t, we will interrupt the Summer Rewind and post it then. We hope you all have a wonderful summer.


About Dancing with the Elephant contributors

Joie Collins is a founding member of the Michael Jackson Fan Club (MJFC). She has written extensively for MJFC, helping to create the original website back in 1999 and overseeing both the News and History sections of the website. Over the years she conducted numerous interviews on behalf of MJFC and also directed correspondence for the club. She also had the great fortune to be a guest at Neverland. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was three years old. Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician who for 30 years made her living as a flutist, performing in orchestras and for major theatrical touring productions. Her passion for popular musicology led her to temporarily leave the orchestra pit and in June 2013 she received a Master’s degree in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She’s continuing her studies at McMaster University, where she is working on a major research project about Michael Jackson, with Susan Fast as her director. Willa Stillwater is the author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance and "Rereading Michael Jackson," an article that summarizes some of the central ideas of M Poetica. She has a Ph.D. in English literature, and her doctoral research focused on the ways in which cultural narratives (such as racism) are made real for us by being "written" on our bodies. She sees this concept as an important element of Michael Jackson's work, part of what he called social conditioning. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was nine years old.

Posted on June 19, 2014, in Michael Jackson. Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. And many thanks to you Willa and Joie for your interesting and very important discussions. I always, always learn something from each and every one. Your guests are knowledgeable and invariably contribute to the many pathways of thought and understanding of Michael and of his art. Your site is a welcomed gem and so very appreciated. Lauren

  2. I thank you also. I have loved Michael since I first saw him on the Ed Sullivan show many, many years ago. Your discussions are wonderful. I print them all and have them in binders to pass down to my grandkids, who from age 11 to 2 also love Michael. I can’t wait for more. Also, thank you for introducing me to the Gold Pants Fan Club!

  3. Thank you Willa and Joie for your wonderful and thought-provoking posts and for raising the level of discourse about Michael, for shining a spotlight on his amazing body of work. Best, Susan Fast

  4. Yes, I certainly agree that he was symbolically stoned to death and also bullied to death. On June 13, 2014, I saw a short video of the verdict June 13, 2005. Michael was shown entering the court. He looked so painfully overwhelmed, he could hardly walk it seemed like, his suffering was so immense and the fear of the unknown, what horrible thing was he to face next after four months of unbelievable torment. His heart was so obviously broken.

    I am one of the late comers to Michael’s life. After his death, I spent three years learning who he really was by researching and studying many articles by the finest journalist that wrote about him and told the truth. Also reading comments by those who knew him well.

    I feel that Michael was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. After reading the book by his bodyguards, “Remember The Time,” it seemed obvious to me. Certainly starting in 2003 if not sooner. And most certainly by the end of the trial. Just remembering and picturing that short video of the verdict, his arrival and his exit, makes me tearful and so sad.
    No, one doesn’t get over his ordeal, so undeserved by this beloved man.


  5. Thank you to both of you and all of the guests that you have collaborated with over these last years. Your voices are very important in helping to articulate the depth and meaning of Michael Jackson’s artistic work. I eagerly read each and every one of your posts. I am glad there are people like you helping to advance the legacy of Michael Jackson.

  6. I also want to add my voice of thanks to you Willa and Joie for all the wonderful blogs. I have learned so much about Michael and his art, not only through your words, but all the others who join in, and all the articles and videos that are posted for further exploration.

    I was glad to read the book Remember The Time, which evoked so many emotions in me, but I have to say that at the end of it, I did feel more of a sense of peace about Michael. Of course terrible things happened to him, but that little glimpse into some of his happy times with his children filled me with more of a sense of happiness than overall sadness that I have felt for so long.

    Like Gloria I am also a late comer, but thanks to you all I know so much more about Michael and feel that I have somehow known him all my life, though it has only been a short 4 years.

    Am going to miss you and hope you all have a wonderful summer while I wait for winter to be over here in Cape Town.

    PS have very much enjoyed your book Eleanor – very insightful – I hope you write more. Loved the way it was dedicated to His Imminence – just the way I feel about our beloved Michael.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Caro. I am busy on book 2 of the trilogy. All leading up to book 3 and Michael.

      Laying the groundwork in hopes of showing just how and why he had — and will continue to have — such an extraordinary impact. And how he can lift us out of the hole we are digging for ourselves, seemingly as fast as we can.

      He is the new myth.

    • Hi Caro. While parts of Remember the Time were pretty sad, like you I found it oddly comforting – and pretty funny in places, like the scene where he’s shopping in a Wal-Mart in Virginia, of all places, wearing a face mask. Store security starts following him around, so Bill Whitfield steps in to smooth things over:

      Same as before, the cop wanted to know who the guy was. I did not want a repeat of the magic store [where he told security it was Michael Jackson, word got out, and a mob erupted]. I did not want to say it was Michael Jackson, but this guy was pressing me for a name, being real persistent. “Who is it?”

      I made a snap decision. I said, “It’s Prince.”



      “The guy from Purple Rain?”

      “Yes, sir.”

      “Why is he all covered up?”

      “He’s trying to be incognito.”

      “Oh. We thought he was here trying to rob the place.”

      “No, sir. We’re just shopping.”

      So one cop told the other cop and he told the floor manager, and as word started to circulate, the crowd dispersed. If it was Michael Jackson, it was a mob scene. If it was Prince, people didn’t seem to care. That’s just how it was.

      When we got back into the car, Mr. Jackson said, “What happened back there?”

      I said, “I told them you were Prince.”



      He just laughed and said, “No wonder they left us alone.” (165-166)

      That is too funny! I’m still laughing about that.

      • Ja Willa I thought that the funniest, as I wondered if Bill knew that Michael and Prince had that rivallry thing going on?? He couldn’t have picked someone better, but interesting that everyone backed off and weren’t so interested. I seem to remember an interview with Akon I think it was, who also told a gathering crowd that Michael was someone else, and they were left alone – Akon not mobbed either!!! Poor Michael, it must have been agony – talk about The Price of Fame!!!!!

        Am now reading Michael Jackson Inc., which is very interesting, though contains a lot of already know information – not learned very much new about halfway through, though Zack does confirm that the hyperbaric chamber and Elephant Man bones stories did come from Michael through Frank DeLeo, so that has cleared that one up.

        Happy holidays

  7. No, thank you. I’ve so enjoyed your thoughtful discussions and examinations of Michael’s works. Have a wonderful summer break and looking forward to more great conversations.

  8. Thank you, Willa and Joie, and also all of your remarkable and knowledgeable contributors.

    I am so grateful for your intelligent discussions of Michael, the man and his art.

    Barbara Kaufmann of the “Inner Michael” blog has written some amazing pieces on Michael, including the concept of how the public bullying caused Michael so much damage and heartache, and ultimately led to his death. You are probably aware of Rev. Kaufmann’s blog but here is a link, just in case.

    I look forward to your thoughts on this subject and hope you and all contributors have a safe, happy and healthy time off. Many thanks.

  9. Thank you Willa and Joie! You have been such an inspiration to me and I am truly grateful for your efforts and your amazing work. And now you’ve got me eagerly awaiting the special project! I’ll be anxiously awaiting….and hoping you have a great summer.

  10. Enjoy your break, but be sure to come back. I will miss you.

  11. A lot of hearfelt thanks to both of you Willa and Joie, and to all the knowledgeable people, invited by you or as commentators who so illuminated the essays and conversations. I too happen to be a latecomer in Michael’s life, but what I came accross has had a huge and lasting impact.

    I totally agree with the symbolic stoning, it reveals a lot on how morbid human being can be, how much the gladiatorial show still sells and how the world is being run. Analyses as the one you all offer on this blog help shed a lot of light on what really happened, so I wish you all the strength to go on with the valuable project for a long time.

    Till then a pleasant, peaceful summer!

  12. Willa and Joie, I add my thanks to you for your work on this blog to the many already here. I don’t often comment, but want you to know I always read your entries and frequently come away with food for thought. And I deeply appreciate your deep appreciation for Michael Jackson’s epic life and legacy. Well done, and again–thank you!

  13. I echo the sentiments people express here. Again, thanks so much to both of you, and to those who have participated. This place is a haven, and I so appreciate the diligence with which you bring so many intriguing questions about Michael Jackson to light! I look forward to the Fall.

  14. Well, as this is the ”thank you” thread, I too will add my heartfelt thanks to you both!
    (Although all this thanking makes it sound a bit like you’re leaving, which I obviously don’t hope is the case!)

    Look, the scandals are fading:

    • Thanks for the link Bjorn – all good apart from the date of Michael’s passing. I think this guy is right. The public and media are fairly fickle when it comes to scandal, and as he says there may be occasional rumblings, but it is definitely the music that will live on. I love the demos on Xscape too, though the added music to Slave and Xscape go down well also.

  15. Thank you so much, you all! We really appreciate all the warm words. To be honest, I’ve been feeling pretty frustrated lately with this special post that’s running behind schedule, so your encouragement means a lot to me, especially right now.

    And you’re right, Bjørn, it does kind of feel like a wake, but we aren’t closing up shop yet! There’s still a lot more to talk about. For example, we still haven’t done a post on Billie Jean – can you believe that? That’s one of my goals for next year. In fact, I think one of our first posts in the fall will be about Billie Jean. And there’s some fascinating new work to talk about, like Susan Fast’s book on the Dangerous album, which is coming out in September. So we’re looking forward to starting a new season in the fall.


    I love your site which is a welcomed gem! Thank you so much! I wish you a pleasant summer

  17. Hey Willa and Joie–Thanks for all your dedication and insights this past year and congratulations on having completed your third year of this fantastic blog! I always learn new ways to look at MJ’s art and it is exciting to share this journey with you and your guest contributors and commenters.

    You know what, I think this IS the ‘special post” right here!!

    Have a great summer!

    • “You know what, I think this IS the ‘special post’ right here!!”

      Thanks to all the wonderful comments, it’s certainly turned out to be a very special post for Joie and me! Thanks a lot, stephenson, for suggesting a better way to look at things. (Though I still hope the “special post” we intended will be coming out soon …)

  18. Thanks, Willa and Joie for your wonderful blog and for offering a forum for some great discussions. You do Michael proud! I think he would have loved Dancing With the Elephant. I do!

    Have a good summer… and keep up the good work.

  19. Willa and Joie,

    Forgive my including this note, I just thought of delving into certain aspects of Michael’s life I deam to be of profound interest. For example, what happened to his project at Oxford concerning parents and children, and the other at the Carnegie Hall? Another very interesting subject would be his personal library of 10.000 volumes, an institution in itself, his sprees to Barnes and Nobles, hat did he purchase in these centres? His devotion to Transcendentalist literature, his voratious reading, his character as a father, his other artistic pursuit, that of visual art, his sojourn in Ireland where he left the best of impressions, and was deeply concerned with the young victims, all these sides of him I believe deserve to be brought to the fore as not much is known to the public. This would furthur contribute to depicting him as the man he really was.

    Looking forward to all new discussions!

    • Hi Gihan, we always appreciate suggestions, so thank you for sharing your ideas. There’s a lot to talk about, isn’t there?

  20. Thanks for you appreciation, Willa. One more thought, his helping fellow artists, not an ounce of arrogance. Being such a richly endowed person, Michael certainly inspires endless worthwhile discussions.

    Vi va the great site!

    • And here’s another link that I think will be of great interest: to a new blog by Susan Fast! Her first post is a wonderful analysis of key moments in a Buenos Aires concert from the Dangerous tour.

      btw, thanks Bjørn for that link. It made me want to read Remember the Time all over again. …

  21. Thanks for the links, the articles are superb.

  22. Big THANK YOU to you two for all the good discussions and articles that you prepare for us to enrich our understanding about our beloved Michael and his wonderful art. I read everything you publish, although I don’t comment it frequently. Hoping to hear from you soon!

  23. mjrocksmyworld8291958

    I would like to thank you Willa and Joie for allowing me to share in your wonderful and intriguing conversations and articles about our dear Michael. You have so many times
    opened my eyes to view Michael’s artistry in a whole new light and I look forward to reading many more new articles and postings. Have a most wonderful summer and thank you.

  24. The fact that Michael is bullied to this day is sad. On the other hand it is an unintended compliment. Why be soo concerned about someone unless you do think him significant. He just cant be forgotten as long as he is vilified in the most ridiculous manner, like Murrays illogical arguments on TV.

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