Back in December 2010, the first posthumous album featuring all new Michael Jackson songs was released. The album, named simply Michael, fit quite seamlessly with the narrative associated with the last months of his life: wanting to make a comeback, Michael was planning his “This is It” series of concerts, which was to be one of the most spectacular concert experiences to date. Not only would it be the culmination of his 40 year long career, this concert was to be the first his children were old enough to see him perform live.
On 16 June 2011, a second posthumous Michael Jackson video clip was released. “Behind the Mask” features contributions from 1,600 fans living around the world, collected in the span of a couple of months and put together in this montage of a video clip.
Typically, Michael Jackson productions are polished to a full blinding shine worthy of the artist who changed the music video landscape and, consequently, the music industry. And so, the simplicity of the video to the song “Behind the Mask” comes as a bit of a shocking yet rather refreshing contrast. Of all the official, marketed tributes paid to the late Michael Jackson, this one is by far the best. Stripped of the gloss and venure of professional video clips, filled with the sequins, glitter, gloves and fedoras that will be for a very long time associated with him, and ending with exclamations of “We love you, Michael”, this video seems to capture a sense of fun and – dare I say – innocence that seemed lacking in the entertainer’s life.
While it might seem a little disappointing to those who were hoping for something a little more glamorous, it is, in my opinion, not only a tribute to Michael Jackson, but also one to all the fans he managed to bring together and who supported him throughout his career. Also thrilling for me (pun totally intended) is that one of my friends made it in the video not once, not twice, but thrice (congratulations again, Pedram!). It makes Michael Jackson’s music all the more “approachable”.