Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Hey Look! An Actual Michael Jackson / Shakespeare Reference!


Go ahead and read the article – I couldn’t stomach it.

I link it only for the Shakespeare connection.  Spot it?  The article’s written by Germaine Greer, who wrote a book about Shakespeare's wife (among other contributions to the field).

Had to post that.  I try so hard to stay on topic, but the rest of the world is busy talking about Mr. Jackson today, I wanted to get in on the act :)


William Hunter said...

Zounds! How dare that woman compare Michael Jackson to Orpheus or Nijinsky. Pop music (the genre of Jackson) is by definition incapable of establishing transcendence; as popular culture ebbs and flows. My apologies for the outbust, but that was the first time an article has gotten me physically angry in a long time. I understand perfectly why you could not stomach the article.

catkins said...

I beg to differ. Just because Michael Jackson's music is labeled as pop, is no reason to dismiss his cultural importance. As weird as he was, I think he was a brilliant performer, and I do think he transformed modern dance. He practically invented an entirely new entertainment medium--the music video. You may or may not like that particular medium, but I think it may have some staying power. And would you say The Beatles, because they were pop culture, were incapable of establishing transcendence? I would not. I never thought we would be listening to rock and roll today, but it is still going strong. That, I believe is transcendent. And I have often thought about writing an article about the similarity between the syntax of Beatles lyrics and Shakespeare--the colloquialisms with common grammatical slips that we pass off without notice (unlike gaffes like The Doors' "The stars shine in the sky/ For you and I"). At any rate, you can see I am a defender of pop culture as well as a Shakespeare geek, and for all of Michael Jackson's craziness, I think he was enormously talented in his heyday and made a great contribution to the art world. My opinion.

Willshill said...

ME: Ms Greer's lack of research on the transformation of dance was apparently self-serving to her thesis, which attempts to bestow the iconic mantle of 'the' choreographic innovator of the 20th century (perhaps even earlier) on Michael Jackson. She conveniently mentions Nijinsky and Nuryev as interpreters, inferring that they were mere 'apers' of style, while Jackson was a god-like 'creator':

" Nijinsky and Nureyev also died young. They, too, were transcendent dancing boys, but they chose to interpret the choreography supplied to them by others. By contrast Michael Jackson's art was astonishingly innovative. No one could dance like him, until he showed them how, and then they were never as good as he was. His concept of the dance was utterly 20th century, extravagantly multi-dimensional, and not in the least middle class.
Nijinsky may have been the greatest Spectre de la Rose, Nureyev the greatest Corsair, but these two candles pale in the light of Jackson's blazing star. The surprise is not that we have lost him, but that we ever had him at all. "

What Gushing Rubbish. Indeed, how dare she compare him to two of the greatest dancers the world has ever known!!?? But let's dismiss them (and their level of talent) as Ms Greer has so conveniently done, all the while seeming to protest to the contrary. An argument can be made against all of her too easily consumed pablum with just two words: Bob Fosse. To quote Ms Greer once again:

"If the dance establishment did not often acknowledge his influence it was because there was no need. His shapes, his moves were everywhere."

This description is outrageously and erroneously applied to the wrong person!

Once again, I would suggest a better understanding of the words 'Icon' 'popular', and 'fame' as they're applied by the commercial $hark$ who would too quickly sell us their 'True' meanings--at great profit to themselves. While we're at that, it might also profit US to consider why they're so willing to throw those words around so carelessly, indiscriminately, and all too often.

Willshill said...

By the way Duane. Do you remember a previous discussion we had re: rap and Shakespeare, and if and how the worth of an artistic message might be determined and might or might not get across? I think it dovetails, alarmingly, here. --Not quoted in entirety, but I think what I've selected makes the point--

This was a statement from a rapper named Akala, who was apparently equating rap with Shakespearean verse by way of an even older poetic icon:

"...a tradition that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years, you realise that it is the same as The Iliad."

You said: "Perhaps there is some level of talent there, and perhaps a
message of value. But if the message cannot reach its audience through the
chosen medium, is that the fault of the audience, the medium, or the message?"

I said: "Or maybe He who controls access to the Message and how the message is perceived? So universal is the Work,[Shakespeare's] that it can have the effect of causing whatever it touches, even 400+ years later, to attempt identification with its greatness; sometimes stridently so, as I think we've seen. Perhaps some 400 years in the future, the attempt will be to do the same with Hip Hop. Who knows? --Only He who will control access to the message and how it's perceived."

I've heard M J compared to (and placed on the level of) Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Obama, and now, Nureyev and Nijinsky...

Controlling the perception of the message has already begun. Germaine Greer, of all people, should be discerning enough to know something about the dishonesty and misconception she helps, willingly or unwillingly, to support with such bandwagon effluvia.

William Hunter said...

To Carl, I may have spoken in haste, and for that I do apologize. I do have to say that, especially when discussing Shakespeare, staying power is relative. I agree that pop culture does have a time and place, but I'm not quite as sure that people will still be listening to MJ four hundred years later. But; as you said it's all a matter of opinion.

catkins said...

No offense taken, William. The point I think is not that people will be listening to MJ, but that modern dance will be affected by him. Everyone is entitled to his opinion.

Anonymous said...

Such an interesting conversation!!! I think what is very interesting about Michael Jackson is that he wasn't literal - something one doesn't find very often in pop or popular music - especially in his dancing but also in his lyrics and way of singing if one pays close attention. And I read that Barishnikov admires Jackson and states that one should not try to imitate him, that it's better to just sit, watch and admire him.