Monsters, Witches, and Michael Jackson’s Ghosts

“Monsters, Witches, and Michael Jackson’s Ghosts” is an article by Willa that was published by Popular Musicology Online on January 8, 2015. It consists of three sections:

“Monsters” addresses the allegations of child sexual abuse against Michael Jackson, as well as the climate of hysteria that skewed judgment after those accusations became public. It also considers cultural and historical factors for why the police, the press, and the public may have been predisposed to see Michael Jackson as guilty, and why they may have reacted the way they did.

“Witches” considers the case of Tituba, a slave in Salem Village, Massachusetts, and one of the first women accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Specifically, it highlights aspects of her situation in 1692 that closely parallel Michael Jackson’s situation in 1993. It also considers Tituba’s creative response to the accusations and the hysteria that followed.

“Ghosts” looks at the short film, Michael Jackson’s Ghosts, as his creative response to the accusations against him. It also considers what this film has to say about his off-screen response as well, and concludes that he was creating an entirely new genre of art distinct in form and scope from anything we’ve ever seen before.

You can read the full article here and share comments below. Additional comments are available here.

Note: Michael Jackson’s Ghosts was never officially released outside of Asia so is not widely available. If you don’t have a copy, here’s a link to a high-definition version available on YouTube.

Also, while much of the information in the “Monsters” section of this article is already very familiar to fans, this is the first time a balanced review of the evidence has appeared in an academic journal, and it has rarely been reported in the mainstream media. We think it’s very important that this information be made available to the general public as well as Michael Jackson’s supporters, so if you have ideas about ways to share this article with readers who may or may not be fans, please feel free to do so.

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  1. Wow Willa this is a brilliant article, and I am only half way through.

    I have suggested on Raven’s blog All For Love that people read it however they can access it. Unfortunately I haven’t yet learned how to put in links and videos into my comments, but you have inspired me to learn, because as many people as possible should read this.

    I do hope that the woman who runs All Things Michael picks it up, as she often posts links to Dancing with the Elephant and All For Love postings.

    Back to the second half

  2. Great article, Willa

  3. Thank you Thank you Thank you for providing a link to Willa’s full article. I’m astounded by the depth of her analysis. The take away for me was that Michael in a way sacrificed his reputation in order to compel us to question our world views, to re-assess our notions about race, gender, and sexuality, and examine our pre-conceived notions of “otherness”. Unfortunately, there are too many people in this world who are so narrow-minded they cannot conceive the notion that their thinking might be skewed. It seems that Michael was “preaching to the choir”, although, my hopes are that he was able to open some minds to higher thinking. He is sorely missed by millions around the world who admire him, appreciate his “otherness”, and will always keep him in their heart. Thank you again.

  4. Willa, your article is wonderful. In addition to your innovative ideas and insights, backed by detailed research, you provide such a strong model for how to write about Michael Jackson. You combine intellect with warmth and empathy. There are many academic articles out there that have some very interesting ideas about Michael Jackson, but I am usually dismayed by the feeling that they aren’t writing about an actual human being. You always keep firmly in mind the human being that he was, while taking a fresh look at him as an artist and a focus for projection. Thank you for this article.

  5. Congratulations, Willa–well done!!! Thanks for the thought, hard work, and perseverance it took to write this carefully researched rebuttal of the allegations and the tabloid caricature of MJ and bring it to a wider audience.

  6. Fantastic article, congratulations Willa, I learned lots of things that I was not aware of so I thank you for that – In reference to make this article available for everyone I wonder if there are any magazine that will accept to publish it – it will be great – also the Facebook page by Catherine Gross “A place in Your Heart” I hope she picks it up or maybe you can get in touch with her or with your permission I can share it with her – Michael is missed so very much and forever will be – I know that every time I read something about Him or look at a picture my heart beat faster and I get very emotional and I even get angry for all he had to go through in His short life I thank you once more for your amazing article and the respect towards our dear Michael

  7. Hello Willa I know that you were looking for a video of a news broadcast from 1994. Here is a link to one with Mary Fischer on it briefly. It doesn’t have Evan Chandler just the story.
    Here is the link

  8. Awesome analysis! Ghost is one of my favorite short films. And I love his unreleased song “Ghost Of Another Lover”, it’s so beautiful.

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