by Guest Contributor Elisabeth Schäfer-Wünsche
We, Carolina and I, very much enjoyed reading Carmen Kerckhove’s inspiring comment on Michael Jackson and the contradictions of race. Here in Germany, most people are probably even more at a loss with Jackson’s constant re-making of himself than in the U.S. Comments range from questions such “Why did he turn from a good-looking black man into a weird-looking white woman?” to outright insulting remarks about the supposed monstrosity of his facial features and his pale skin. There has been at the same time though a sincere sadness about Jackson’s death. The special editions of magazines – at least the ones I saw – seemed to be almost lovingly done, and that is rare.
Given the diverse reactions around me I do feel that it was Jackson’s incredible dancing which allowed him to defy physical boundaries in ways that race, gender, and age didn’t. Surely his dancing and his videos, along with his music of course, were able to link a global audience. Upon the news of Jackson’s death German MTV started to play his songs and show his videos for days. And men whom nobody suspected to be Jackson-fans were doing a fancy moonwalk for their wives and family. Kids were trying it on sidewalks. A white woman in her mid-fifties – truly into anything that has to do with beauty: hair, make-up, fashion, the ever-changing tasteful furnishing of her home, good food – came to my place and saw my daughter watching one of Jackson’s videos. When he went into one of his famous moves the woman just shivered and looked away and said: “Now that gives me the goose bumps.” She reacted in her body to the total perfection that at the same time looked like a crazy rejection of rules: gracefully moving forward, backward, and somehow even upward at the same time. I guess she saw something powerful she couldn’t name.
In the course of his life, Jackson went to all kinds of extremes. And his complex ways of dealing with race perhaps represented the most visible extreme. But in his dancing, this rejection of limits showed a magic creativity. I guess in many parts of the world and across the generations people reacted to that crossing of boundaries and admired him for it. During those moments of watching him sing and dance – in his videos or on stage – the other extremes were forgotten or considered less important. Encouraged by Stevie Wonder’s borderless music (it was incredible!), the millions around the globe who watched the memorial service at the Staples Center felt that they could connect.
About This BlogRacialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable
Keanu ReevesJohn Cho newsflashes.
Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at email@example.com.
The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.
Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.
Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.
Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.
Follow Us on Twitter!
- ballewal on Quoted: Lucy Liu On Racial Image And Romantic Comedies
- racialicious on Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview
- Ruthie O on Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”
- littleeva on Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”
- SuperHyugaYoshichan on Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview
- Friday Silliness: God (a.k.a. Morgan Freeman) Falls Asleep During An Interview
- Retrolicious–Mad Men 6.8: “The Crash”
- Quoted: 100 Questions Toward Cultural Competency
- Book Review: Storm Warning by E.A. O’Neal
- The Racialicious Links Roundup 5.23.13
- Meanwhile, On TumblR: In Defense Of Beyoncé–Again
- Amitabh Bachchan In The Great Gatsby: Is Desi The New Jewish?
- Scandal Roundtable 2.22: “White Hat’s Back On”
TagsABC activism advertising african-american asian asian-american barack obama black blackface celebrities comedy culture diversity fashion feminism film gender glbt HBO hip hop hispanic history hollywood identity international interracial relationships latino media mixed race movies music muslim politics race racial stereotypes racism religion sex sexism sexual stereotypes stereotypes tv Uncategorized white youtube