Can you still enjoy Michael Jackson’s music?

I thought that very thing.

No way to boycott a nobody.

To clarify: I wasn’t referring so much to boycotting an artist’s art on principles, I was talking about your knowledge of the artist’s behavior intruding on your ability to enjoy the art, which is what happened to me.

I think the whole side issue of whether Jackson’s music was great or not is a complete irrelevancy.

He could truly be the single greatest musician of all time and I would still answer the same.

I am someone who will boycott out of principle, but I don’t seem to find this to be much of a problem–at least, not after some time has passed. I’ve stumbled upon Jackson’s songs and not even thought about the man himself. I’ve gotten caught up in enjoying excerpts from books by certain authors that I would never pay for.

But this may be because it’s usually not someone I had any sort of pre-existing parasocial relationship with. When it’s someone I’m a huge fan of, and feel some level of “betrayal,” I usually have to avoid them for a while. And then, when I come back, I notice so many more flaws and can’t get into it. That’s what happened with me and the Nostalgia Critic.

But I never had any such relationship with Michael Jackson. I was never some huge fan, and barely knew most of his catalog. For me, encountering his songs is more like “huh, that’s actually pretty good. Weird that I never really heard it before.”

And, with authors, I can usually get caught up in their story if I like it. As long as they don’t remind me of the thing that bothers me about them, and I’m not paying for their work, it’s easy for me to just get caught up in the writing or the fictional world, rather than the person who wrote it.

If Michael Jackson’s music was promoting pedophelia, then I would not listen. But pedophelia is not part of his artistry.

Bill Cosby is a very funny man. His comedy records are hilarious. Noah, the Chickenheart, the whole bit about pregnancy - all are absolute classics. I find his type of humor far far better than a lot of current comedians who use sexual commentary for the shock value and “humor”. That being said, a lot of Cosby’s humor was based around him being a fine, upstanding human. Sleeping around, drugging girls to have sex with him, using his influence to promise career growth (and not following through!) undercuts that. I’m far more torn over enjoying Cosby’s humor than I am Jackson’s music.

Casey’s gas station chain was prosecuted for gouging customers after 9/11. I will not go there, even if they’re the cheapest around. VW was prosecuted for programming to get around exhaust tests. I will not buy a VW. These are things where their ill deeds are with their main products, and I will not use their products. Michael Jackson may have used his fame and wealth to be able to perform his ill deeds, but they were not part of his artistry.

I never liked Michael Jackson. As far as I’m concerned, his runaway popularity was indicative of nothing more than the terrifying power of corporate hype machines and mainstream America’s depressingly titanic capacity for self-delusion. (See also: Reagan, Ronald; Limbaugh, Rush; Cowell, Simon; Snyder, Zack; Rowling, JK; Musk, Elon.)

Everything good I’ve ever heard about the man has been the usual flibberjibber about innovation and artistry and pushing the envelope, yet somehow the little issue of his ability to sing…not pose, not fire up a crowd, not flash that stupid glove, sing…never came up. And don’t anyone lecture me about his dance moves either, because I really don’t give a crap. I want dance moves, I’ll watch a figure skating competition. Nearly every time I heard him do his actual job, he reminded me of a yuan-ti with a throat ailment. It was harsh. You could point to any other prominent pop singer of the era and I’d find him or her a lot more pleasant than him. Madonna, “lousy singer” and all, could sing circles around him. So could George Michael. Tiffany sounded better. Billy Joel sounded better. Whitney Houston, astoundingly enough, sounded better. Freaking Martika sounded better, and her talent level was roughly “American Idol cannon fodder”.

The songs themselves? Some of them were pretty catchy, but definitely not the kind of music I enjoy years down the road, much less hold up as some tremendous milestone. After years of oversaturation, I have had damn well enough of Billie Jean, and Beat It, and The Girl Is Mine, and The Way You Make Me Feel, and Thriller, and Man in the Mirror, and The Girl is Mine. Maybe I could tolerate a cover of Gotta Be Starting Something, but don’t bet on it. I don’t care how fabulous the songcraft is or the tremendous influence they’ve had on this or that. I’m tired.

I recently discovered a station promising “the best pop on the planet”. The music on it (much of it Japanese or Korean, which I appreciate) is energetic, cheerful, brisk. A far cry from the trudging operatic beltfests popularized by Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, the weirdly high pitched wailing of The Bee Gees and Earth Wind and Fire, and Jackson’s hisses, yelps, and “OOWW!!!”-s (:grimacing: ) It’s a much more listener-friendly music style for a more discerning generation. I enjoy it.

As for the child abuse allegations, given his well-documented…mannerisms, I almost have to believe that at minimum something pretty skeevy happened, but thanks to him successfully buying off the parents we’ll never know for sure. For the record, whatever the truth was, learning about the shocking things a global pop megastar allegedly did to their children and responding by squeezing him for a big payout was the most sickeningly vile part of this whole mess. Seriously, that’s some straight Acquisitions Incorporated crap right there. No matter what, someone suffered a horrific injustice because some worthless scumbags got dollar signs in their eyes. I couldn’t say for sure if this whole execrable situation would’ve turned me off to his music if I was a fan, but it certainly made me glad I wasn’t.

I never thought of Earth, Wind and Fire’s music that way.

They’re not a fan of Philip Bailey’s falsetto leads, I suppose. I’m a low-key fan of EW&F (I prefer War if we’re talking jazz-inflected, harmonizing funk band that peaked in the 1970’s), but Bailey’s lead turns weren’t my favorite either. Gotta respect his talent, though - man had some serious pipes.

Thank you for the explanation. I liked the EW&F songs where he shared the vocals with Maurice.

Far be it from me, a very tepid Jackson appreciator, to step in the way of your rant against him - heck, I actually agree with your assessment of him…

But the above quote confuses me. Are you suggesting those people are not good singers? I’m not a George Michael fan - not my kind of music - but I do recognize he could sing. And Whitney? That’s a whoosh, right?

There was a thread a few years back about whether you can separate the art from the artist, and I replied that I find it difficult to do so.
If I were a fan of MJ’s music, it would be hard for me to continue listening. There are great musicians whose only sin in my eyes is that they are arrogant jerks and I cannot enjoy their music.

I had a nice collection of Isaac Asimov books, from his Fantasy and Science Fiction science essays, collected over many years. When it came out that he quite regularly and openly groped women around him at the office, at conferences, wherever he was, I decided I didn’t need his works in my life.

One day I simply bagged the offending books and put them out for the trash man–I was free of Isaac Asimov’s works by the next afternoon.

Yes. I separate the art from the artist and don’t base my consumption on the personal morality of the creators. If people did they wouldn’t be able to enjoy much of anything and we’d all be wearing hairshirts and watching paint dry in a hut. Very few people would want to live in a miserable life like that in the name of some nebulous moral purity.

You enjoy K-pop?
Would a scandal put you off it?

I find it difficult to impossible to separate art from artist. I was never much of a MJ fan, so his controversies didn’t really change much for me.

But I used to enjoy Cat Steven’s music. After he, as converted Muslim Yusef Islam, seemed to support the fatwa calling to kill author Salman Rushdie, I completely soured on his music. Yusef Islam later backed off his stance, claiming he had been misquoted and never actually supported or called for Rushdie’s murder, but it seemed like waffly backpedaling to me. I have never willingly listened to a Cat Stevens song since then.

All Humans are shot through with Good and Evil, intertwined.
Punish their Evil, and respect the Good.
I would oppose a ban on their art & music, but support a criminal punishment for the individual.

That has a pretty massive excluded middle. People tend to reject artists over heinous acts and patterns of abuse, not over tax evasion, shoplifting, no-harm DUI arrests or generally acting like a jerk.

Pretty sure I started a thread about this (MJ specifically), and frankly, I just stopped listening to his music. No big loss.

True, but more and more people are rejecting artists simply because they have political beliefs they disagree with. People can watch, listen, read etc. whatever they want but that’s their personal choice and I still think it’s a weird way to live. Even more so if the artist is dead and can’t benefit or care about what modern consumers do.