Michael Jackson’s This Is It


So last year when I first heard about this film, I made the gut decision I wasn’t going to see it.  I was at the NAACP Image Award nominated memorial service, and as I wrote at the time, to be there was as draining for me emotionally as anything I could imagine.  I understood the business behind releasing the documentary (promoters making back their money, ‘one last glimpse’ for the conspiracy theorists and the diehards like myself) but no film could top what I experienced that day in Staples. 

Then I started to hear about how good This Is It was on its own terms.  My mother and sister first; “You haven’t seen it?!?”  Then various friends who know my lifelong admiration of Michael; “You haven’t seen it?”  Then my homegirl who went to the memorial with me; “You haven’t seen it?”  Then people who I know for a fact didn’t have nothing but jokes about Mike for the last 20 years; “You haven’t seen it?”  Then the homeless cat who sleeps at the park where I run on the weekends; “You haven’t seen it?!?”  HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!?  I digress…

Since at this point I’ll assume that yes, you HAVE seen it, I’ll just give you some of my thoughts in bullet point form as I watched it…

  • For those of you who get on me about not eating enough (and you know who you are), I look like Fat Bastard compared to Mike in this movie.  I know the man was never known to hit the gym, but my goodness he was skinny.  He sure seemed healthy enough throughout the rehearsals though didn’t he?
  • Along those lines, it’s ironic that in the past few weeks I’ve had stepshows on my brain from my college days.  I say that to say, I know when you’re gearing up for a show in front of a live audience, you’re pretty much going half-speed all the way up until the week/day before the big show.  So seeing rough cuts of various songs/sequences didn’t throw me off as much as some people who might have been expecting more.  Frankly, Mike at half speed would still get my money before damn near everybody else right now who’s touring live.
  • Maybe it’s because I didn’t hear him sing it as an adult alot, if ever, but the half speed version of “I’ll Be There” still had my hairs standing up.  I don’t know if I wanted to see that full production number; that was clearly set up to be a show-stopper.
  • The editor deserves a little credit on this one, but I’m seriously starting to doubt if there will ever be a song that guarantees an “Awwwww shyt!” more than the intro to Billie Jean, especially when you don’t see it coming.
  • Seeing 50 year old Mike go through the motions of Beat It and Thriller put a smile on my face, I couldn’t help it but rewind the Blu-Ray, get up, and dance along with Mike in my living room.
  • I heard Prince told Mike once that if he really wanted to throw down on a comeback tour, he should do a straight accoustic set to remind people how good of a vocalist he was.  Even though he complained about it after the fact, I know I wasn’t the only one who could, as my Captain would say, ‘feel the moistness’ when Mike freestyled a little at the end of “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”.  I think I went psychically deaf for a few minutes.
  • Finally, more than a few times as they were going through it, you could clearly see Mike smiling and enjoying himself.  In retrospect, I think that’s what I was looking for.  For all the damage both self-inflicted and done by others to this man, did this cat that I borderline worshipped for so many years actually enjoy his gift as much as we did?  Or was he more like a Brando who always seemed to have a borderline contempt for his own extraordinary talents?  Without getting into all of Mike’s issues (which would take all week), I think on the most basic level he enjoyed what he could do.

Again, it’s funny to watch it now, completely separated from all the hoopla.  At the moment (right after watching the film) I’m sad he’s gone again.  But I will admit I stand corrected, for all of you who told me I had to see this movie as a Michael Jackson fanatic, you were right.  I’m glad I changed my mind and finally got around to watching it.

2 thoughts on “Michael Jackson’s This Is It

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