Michael Jackson made some of the most iconic, visually fascinating music videos of all time. Some of them were more like short films, especially given the level of talent he worked with. For this and every Saturday in February, we'll look at some of his videos as if they were movies and discuss them accordingly.
Michael Jackson's anthology movie Moonwalker never got a theatrical release in America, but segments of the film were released as music videos, such as "Man in the Mirror" and "Leave Me Alone." (It's worth checking out for the freaky Transformer sequence alone. Also, Joe Pesci.) Perhaps the best-known segment is that for the song "Smooth Criminal." Looking resplendent in a white suit with a powder blue shirt and a stylish slouch hat to match, Jackson infiltrates a lair of underground gangsters and molls and... um... controls them through the power of, uh... dance? Something like that.
Unlike the "Beat It" video, where he's out to defuse a violent situation, here he seems to be the instigator, which, I suppose, is consistent with the persona he adapts in the song. We never see anyone that answers to the name Annie, though, and as a result we never know for sure if she is, in fact, okay. You'd think the video would've answered that burning question.
As in the video for "Bad" - and Moonwalker came out around the same time as the album Bad - Jackson projects an air of hyper-masculinity and aggressiveness greatly at odds with the gentler, more androgynous image he had in life, and I have to admit, at times it's kind of amusing to see. I mean, only in a setting like a music video could a skinny little dude like Jackson stand up to dudes bigger and tougher than him and defeat, or at the very least intimidate, them.
There's also a strange middle section where the music stops, the lights are dimmed, and Jackson and the others engage in a slow orgy-like groove that makes no damn sense. I don't know what that's supposed to signify, and frankly, I don't wanna think too much about it either.
And once again, lurking on the periphery are little kids who are easily awed at Jackson's antics. Gaining the approval of children was a thing for him. What it means depends, I suppose, on whether you believe Jackson had a weakness for kids. We'll never know the truth one way or another.
I should also mention the Moonwalker video game based on the "Smooth Criminal" video. I remember playing the arcade version. It wasn't bad, although I didn't play it that often. I do remember it being quite popular for a time.