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The Awfully Big Adventure: Michael Jackson in the Beyond by Paul Morley – review | Books

TThe public definition of Michael Jackson is undergoing a paroxysm of sorts – it is not really the state of the escape described in this meditation by the journalist, television presenter and stylist of prose Paul Morley. Although an otherwise enjoyable exercise in unraveling the meaning of a 20th century celebrity in 21, his book falters in the wake of recent events.

The world is still adapting to transmitted revelations Leaving Neverland – a documentary that caused the skin of the goose that aired two weeks ago, in which two friends of Michael Jackson described their experiences behind closed doors. The program was scheduled to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Jackson's death.

Faber had a similar idea in highlighting The Awfully Big Adventure, a long brochure on the current meaning of Michael Jackson. From his title on, Morley's book cannot help but feel behind the curve, although Morley agonizes over how he – and we – should hear about Jackson and his works now. The "hour" of the book is very different from the current present, however, in which many of us have left a lot Leaving Neverland with the jaws wide open. In the United States, Oprah Winfrey hosted a special post-abuse program on the abuse.

In these pages, "Michael Jackson" is known to all, but it is still a cypher, a cultural praise whose meaning fades the more you try to nail them. Who the hell was "Michael Jackson" anyway, asks Morley – the man-child who survived a violent father and dedicated his life to healing the world? A ghost that simulates, that puts fragility on stage? Or a powerful entertainer who owned the Beatles catalog and used his perfectly normal voice in private? He therefore shrugged off the idea that Jackson enjoyed any kind of objective reality independent of all other subjective realities encoded by him from image creators, fans and his team. Writing in an effusive style, Morley's riffing on the subject dates back to a very recent past, when discussions of Jackson's most questionable inclinations had to dance around the subject, wary of defamation lawyers. In 2005, Jackson was authorized by a court of all counts related to the teenager Gavin Arvizo. Now, later Leaving Neverland, the narrative has mixed its previous shorthands.

Leaving aside Leaving NeverlandMorley's book has some precious points: that Jackson was an avatar for so many things that happened, not least the worrying normalization of plastic surgery. It showed that the art made by an African American could be completely mainstream in the United States.

If Jackson had lived, Morley brooded in the second person, "you would have sung a frosted veil at the wedding of a new mixed-race American duchess … You would be completely comfortable in a 21st century post-truth filled with modified human marks surgically. "

Apart from the timing, there are further defects. Jackson is "the missing link between the elegant, troubled Marvin Gaye and the rude, offended Kanye West". "Jackson is" becomes an annoying refrain, a tactic that makes even more effect when Morley lists Google search results on multiple pages. If you are in solidarity with your tactic – that of blurring your eyes and allowing fragmented and contradictory fragments, coming from the collective mind of the 21st century – it is a piece with its intentions. For the cynical, however, the Google quote fills a long piece of reflection in something that can remain semi-honorably between two rigid covers.

Back in the real "now", The Simpsons they shot down an episode in which Jackson appeared; more recently, a children's museum in Jackson's native Indiana has removed his artifacts from the display. "Cancel" is, of course, the hot topic of 2019, as fans and media re-examine their relationships with everyone, from Woody Allen to R Kelly. Morley addresses the difficulty in removing a complex artist from their art, but not in the light of the ongoing debate.

As a magician of words he became of age in a time when intellectual play wandered more freely, spread playful & # 39; what-ifs & # 39; among his most grim thoughts. "You would have formed a virtual super group … with Taylor Swift, Grimes & # 39; n & # 39; Musk, Guardians of the GalaxyGroot, Pikachu and a clone of Mahalia Jackson … "is the kind of grandfather who does not help anyone. On the contrary, stressing that"[Jackson] has played a fundamental role in directing a long and courageous history of dissident black music towards its being suffocated in capitalist resistance "is an extremely rich subject of analysis.

Morley really leans on that erased episode of The Simpsonsand the Jacksons cartoons of the 70's, as a context for Jackson's fluidity. The singer, he theorized, wanted to become a sort of drawn, rewritable, almost posthuman emblem to which the rules of physics theoretically did not apply, much less a moral compass.

Morley could have mentioned, but this is not the case, as Jackson's moves lent themselves to what became the GIFs in the digital age: concrete and stuck metrons. He does not spend long enough on how this man-child with vitiligo has begun to dissolve binary certainties – a very 2019 state of affairs. His book focuses on cognitive dissonance,Leaving Neverland, to love the art but be upset by the man, without being able to say that this state of cognitive dissonance is exactly how we live now on so many levels.

It's all but clear where the pieces are going to land later Leaving Neverland. Marketers, academics and lawyers have intervened on the damage that could be caused to Jackson's estate earnings. The announcements that proclaim his innocence are now removed from the sides of London buses out of respect for sexual abuse patients.

Recent analyzes of Jackson's streaming numbers, however, reveal that his music has not suffered any significant boycott since Wade Robson described how Jackson persuaded him to have a clothing item that could have incriminated the star. Can Michael Jackson be canceled? This would be the book to be commissioned now.

The Awfully Big Adventure: Michael Jackson in the Beyond by Paul Morley is published by Faber (£ 10). To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free shipping for purchases over £ 15, online orders only. Phone orders min p & p of £ 1.99

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