15 December 2000 | Mister-6
I can still remember when Michael Jackson videos were hyped more than the Olympics; seemed every half hour or so MTV would give you a minute-by-minute countdown as to when the next one would premiere.
But then came "Black or White" which, while still partially good, showed a darker side of the singer that even "Thriller" didn't touch.
It starts out innocently enough, with a "Dennis the Menace"-type scene where Culkin's dad (Wendt) shouts at him to turn down his stereo, to which the kid replies by dragging some humongous speakers downstairs, hooking up his guitar and blasting dad through the roof of the house. His mom (Peggy Lipton) is cool but stern ("Your father's going to be very upset when he comes down").
Then the real video begins, with Jackson singing and dancing with different races in different countries (Africa, Russia, India, etc.) about racial equality and prejudice. Then the music ends as different people are shown lip-synching to Jackson's music, each head morphing into the other to show equality between people. It's effective and the message makes it through.
BUT, then comes the end of the video, where a black panther is seen slinking out of the studio and into the dark city streets outside. The panther morphs into Jackson, sporting an arm cast(?), who proceeds to jump onto an abandoned vehicle, smash it up with a crowbar and masturbate(!) atop it. After this is done, he jumps down from the car roof, morphs back into the panther, slinks away and is gone.
Just what was THAT supposed to signify? I couldn't ponder a guess but it all but destroys the goodwill beforehand and muddies up the equality sung about earlier.
Later showings of the video excised the last part of "Black or White" after many angry calls and letters, nowadays, that's likely the only version of Michael's video you're likely to see.
It's just as well, with all the "press" Michael's gotten lately, he doesn't need anything else hanging over his head.
Five stars, for a mostly good video, courtesy of Michael's talents and John Landis' direction.
Face it, Michael - the "Thriller" is gone....