But that wasn’t really the end of the “Black and White” video. The real ending was four minutes or so of Michael desperately attempting to appear cutting edge by laying waste to a bunch of parked cars, with a series of absurd screams that was so poorly received that the sequence was eventually cut and rarely shown on television again. His appearance at the beginning of this sequence as a black panther was a laughable political statement that negated the entire raceless message that preceded it. I haven’t watched all thousand hours of television coverage on Jackson’s career, but I certainly didn’t see anyone mention this.
Despite the fact that every new Jackson release seemed to promise some epic statement, Jackson has never produced anything on the level of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. The man was entertainment personified, but aside from a vague notion that we should all get along and an admirable love for children that turned into an incredibly uncomfortable affection for young boys, who really knows what was going on in his head. Where did the anti-Semitic lyrics in “They Don’t Care about Us" come from? How did he go from being Paul McCartney’s best friend to stealing the Beatles catalog out from under him? I don’t know and neither do you.
When Michael tried to make a big statement on songs like “We Are the World” and “Man in the Mirror”, the results were sappy, trite, and fairly unlistenable. “We Are the World” was an admirable effort to follow up on Bob Geldof’s Band Aid project, but it’s hardly revolutionary to come out against starving children, and Jackson never again came close to using his worldwide popularity for anything else, but promoting his own legend. In fact, after his last acquittal on child molestation charges, he was delusional enough to compare the day of his “not guilty” verdict to the freeing of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”
Jackson is getting a lot of credit for forcing MTV to play Black artists and opening the door that enabled numerous African American audiences’ access to a wider audience, and he did. But one has to remember that it was Walter Yetnikoff, then president of CBS records, who forced MTV’s hand by threatening a boycott.
"I said to MTV, ‘I’m pulling everything we have off the air, all our product. I’m not going to give you any more videos. And I’m going to go public and fucking tell them about the fact you don’t want to play music by a black guy.’" This doesn’t necessarily lesson Jackson’s accomplishment, but again he was and would remain merely an entertainer, when he could have perhaps been so much more.