More often that not, the thirst for anything Michael Jackson-related has increased exponentially after his passing. Even hardcore fans who know everything there is to know seem to have broken down and accumulated more Michael Jackson memorabilia – well, at least the many hardcore fans that I know are doing that.
As for me, I have been redirecting my energy toward understanding. I guess it’s a typical nerd-like way of dealing with such a situation. I’m especially struggling to understand what kind of world we live in that allows for talent to be perverted in such a way that a young black child who sang with such soul and possessed such talent turned into a broken man with white skin, a reconstructed face, and the inability to produce music as touching as his talent should have allowed him to.
So when I saw the title of this DVD, I decided to pick it up. After all, we cannot isolate Michael Jackson from his social environment; and so, to understand what happened to him, one needs to understand the times during which he lived.
Unfortunately, the title doesn’t reflect the content of the DVD. I should have done my homework better rather than simply snap it up. I was expecting a DVD centred on the life of Michael Jackson within the context of the times in which he lived. Rather, this DVD (running time: 79 minutes) is about Michael Jackson’s passing; stripped down to the basic events, it traces the timeline from the fateful 911 phone call made by Jackson’s bodyguard to the memorial service, then traces some of the moments in his life that, according to the producers, contributed to his demise. Even the presentation is stripped to the essentials — no inside leaflet, no extra features, just the footage.
The memorial service isn’t included in its entirety; rather, it too has been stripped down to its most important events, including the Berry Gordy speech, putting it in context (when Berry Gordy mentions the 25th anniversary moonwalk Michael Jackson performed live, the speech pauses for a few seconds while the clip is played, something that did not happen at the memorial), Smokey Robinson reading the letter from Nelson Mandela, Brooke Shields’ speech, Ervin “Magic” Johnson’s speech, Stevie Wonder’s heartfelt, inspirational, and touching short speech and his performance of “Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer,” the speech of Reverend Al Sharpton, Usher’s performance of Michael Jackson’s “Gone too Soon,” Jermaine and Marlon Jackson’s speeches, as well as the unplanned yet touching tribute Paris Katherine Jackson gave her father. It also includes interviews with fans who were at the memorial service as they left the Kodak Center afterward.
There are also numerous tributes included in this DVD. One is the opening of Madonna’s July 4th concert, which featured a Michael Jackson tribute. Unfortunately, it was dubbed to a remix of Aaliyah’s song "Rock the Boat." Others are singing and dancing tributes from fans.
But although it wasn’t quite what I expected, the DVD did offer many occasions for me to reflect on the topic that has been weighing on me since June 25, 2009. The raw footage that follows the above-mentioned in the second part of the DVD provided much food for thought.
After the montage from the memorial service, we are taken a few months back to the final press conference Michael Jackson gave in London, the one in which he announced his last series of concerts. It seems a little unsettling at first – everything up to now seemed to follow a chronological order, after all – but soon it becomes clear that this is the raw footage available to fans to reflect on the reasons why Jackson died.