Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review of Bad 25

I stated a few times on this blog that I was going to watch the Bad 25 documentary that iconic director, Spike Lee, directed. When I watched the documentary on Thanksgiving Day, I liked the documentary but I also did not like some of the things that were in the documentary. This entry will be about my opinions about the documentary: what I liked, what I disliked and my overall opinion of the documentary. I will also give the documentary a grade based on what I saw. I do not want to make this entry to bash Spike Lee or praise him. This entry is about Michael and how future documentaries on Michael should be done, in my own opinion. There were be fans who are not going to like what I have to state and to be honest, that is fine with me because this blog is not about me or how the fans feel.  I am not going to watch history being rewritten to satisfy the masses or a group of controlling, greedy people who think that because they run Michael's legacy, they can tarnished it in anyway possible. 


Bad 25 Poster.



Likes

Being a Michael Jackson fan post June 25th, 2009 is different than being a Michael Jackson fan before June 25th, 2009. Things that did not bother me before Michael was murdered bothers me now and things that I did not care for before his death, I care for now. There is one thing that has remain the same throughout and that is seeing and looking at Michael. The only reason why I even cared about the documentary was because Michael was the main feature. I am not interested in what is positive or less sensational. I see that as another attempt for the Estate executors to get the fans to focus on what is positive and not what is true. When I watched the documentary, I liked the fact that it was done on High Definition.  Michael was always in the cutting edge of technology so it would be fitting to do a documentary on him in the latest in camera technology. I like the fact that the documentary talked about the music and the ideas that Michael had in mind with the music.


Michael with Jeffrey Daniels, far right and other dancers from "Bad" short film.


Jeffery Daniels (who was awesome in the special), who started his career as a dancer on the iconic show Soul Train and later as a member of the classic R&B group, Shalmar (other members included Jody Watley who later had a successful solo career and Howard Hewett.) was the choreographer for the "Bad" and the "Smooth Criminal" short films. It was interesting and insightful on what Jeffrey was stating in the documentary because you get the understanding of what Michael was thinking when he was performing the dance moves for the "Bad" short film. 



Michael with Jeffrey Daniels and another dancer working on dance moves for the Bad short film.

Questlove, the drummer for the hip hop group, The Roots and I have a few things in common - we both are from Philadelphia and we both love Michael. I liked him being on the special because he, for the most part, knows what he was talking about. I liked how he reminded the viewers that the "Shamone" that Michael would sing the Bad song and other songs throughout his career, came from the soul singer, Mavis Staples. I have always known that but there was something that Questlove stated about that fact that got me thinking. 


Questlove with Spike Lee. Look at Questlove's shirt.

He stated that in a way, Michael did that to give homage to the underrated soul singers of back in the day. That was important that Questlove stated that about Michael because a lot of people do not know that Michael was a huge fan of soul music. Even though he was given the title "The King of Pop" and he would often played classical music, he was also a person who loved soul music. I think that Questlove also stated that to show people that even during that time when Michael was befriending people who did not really relate to the black culture like Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minelli, his changing skin color (due to Vitilitgo) and his music becoming more "pop" and less "R&B/Soul" that giving a shout out to a soul singer like Mavis Staples was more of a way to let the people know that he was still black and still supported the black culture. Even with the fact that Michael worked with Jeffrey Daniels and wanting to get the sense of the black culture in Brooklyn by knowing the street dance moves for the "Bad" short film. In a way by using the"Bad"short film, Michael wanted to show the mainstream public what was happening in poverty stricken neighborhoods in America. 

The celebrities that were featured in the special really did not have a real purpose of being on there. I can understand Wesley Snipes because his first acting role was being in the "Bad" short film. As a matter of fact, when Spike Lee cast Wesley Snipes in the classic movie Jungle Fever it was because he liked his performance in the "Bad" short film. 


Spike Lee with Mariah Carey.

I like the fact that Mariah Carey was on there because not only was she friends with Michael and they both dealt with that horrible Tommy Mottola, but because she actually remembers the impact of the "Bad" album and was a huge fan of Michael. 


Spike Lee with Kanye West. 

Kanye West, a fellow MJ fan, was on the special but I did not see why he would be on there. I will explain more about him being on there later on in this entry. Anything that Kanye's states is always full of comedy so his comic relief warranted when he talked about how happy he was when Michael did "Dirty Diana" because he stated that he could relate to the song and being on tour with groupies coming in his way. 



Tatiana Thumbtzen with Spike Lee.

I might be the minority when I state that I like the fact that Tatiana Thumbtzen was in the documentary. Anyone that followed Michael's career extensively like I have knows about Tatiana and her brief history with the Bad Tour. However, I am not going to focus on that. Rather, I am going to focus on the fact that she was on the special because she was the love interest in the short film, "The Way You Make Me Feel". Tatiana is as much a part of the Bad era as Quincy Jones and even Bubbles. The chemistry that Michael and Tatiana had was so tense that you could cut it with a knife so there is no surprise that some type of attraction happened between Michael and Tatiana. I learned that in the end of the short film, Michael and Tatiana were suppose to kiss but the director, Joe Pytra, thought it would be cheesy for Michael to kiss Tatiana so he decided not to include the kiss. However, according to Tatiana, she was told by Joe Pytra not to kiss Michael because he was shy so Tatiana did what she was told. At the end of the short film, Tatiana stated that while she embraced Michael, he had a breath mint in his mouth. It looks like Michael was ready to kiss Tatiana and I now know what really happened at the end of the short film. After years of fans wanting to see footage of Michael kissing Tatiana on stage in Madsion Square Garden in 1988, the documentary finally showed the footage and I was left thinking, "so, that's it?" It was so fast.


Michael and Tatiana kissed on stage.



Siedah Garrett with Spike Lee.

Siedah Garrett is a talented songwriter and singer and whenever she explains her time working with Michael, I smile because she was so genuine and caring when she talks about it. I like the fact that she was on there because she can tell you all of the details of how she got a chance to work with Michael. I am a fan of Michael that loves the details; tell me everything and anything. Siedah makes the viewer feel as though they are actually there with her in her journey with Michael. 


Matt Forger with Michael back in the 1980s. 


Matt Forger, who initially worked with Michael on his classic, Thriller album, worked with Michael on the Bad album and talked about how he and Michael, along with others, came together to work on the album. 


Greg Philligaines with Michael (next to him on the right) in 1988.

Greg Philligaines would play a few notes on the keyboard of the songs and talks about how the songs came about musically. The discussion of his music leads up to a wonderful performance of the song "Another Part of Me". 


Michael on Ebony/Jet Showcase in 1987.

Lastly, I liked the rare footage that the documentary showed of Michael from the behind the scenes of the "Bad" short film, to Michael going to Africa when that Nelson George person discussed how the song Liberian Girl was the only song that was about Africa or African women in 1987 to how artists created the images for the "Leave Me Alone" short film. I also like the interview that Michael did with the show Ebony/Jet Showcase back in 1987 in Brooklyn. I can't help but wonder, though, if this footage, which was never shown when Michael was alive except for his rehearsals of the "Bad" short film in his hotel room and the interview he did with Ebony/Jet was stolen or someone from the Estate went into his home and took the footage. I feel that Michael was going to do something with the footage on his own time but sadly, never had the chance to. 

Dislikes:  

If I were to state that I love the documentary, I would have been lying to you. I am not going to lie to the readers of this blog because that is not my style. Honesty has always been my policy and I will honestly tell you that this documentary could have been so much better without certain people involved. 


That bastard with Michael in 1987. Michael looks unconformable. 

I cannot tell you how angry I was to see John Branca in the documentary. Not even a minute of watching the documentary, I saw that creepy man on my television screen. The image of him made me angry. I have made it no secret that I do not like John Branca and I do not care what he meant to Michael. I believe he is the main reason Michael settled in 1993 and all of the things that happened to Michael happened. Basically, I am stating that he is the ringleader when it came to the destruction of Michael. To see him cry in the documentary was sickening to me because he was invited to the memorial and the funeral and he never came to either of the funerals. I wondered if Branca cried when he saw Michael got burned in that Pepsi commercial in 1984? Did he cry when Michael was falsely accused of child abuse in 1993? Did he cry when Michael was publicly humiliated on international television regarding that horrible Martin Bashir mockumentary in 2003? Did he cry when Michael went through the uncalled for trial in 2005? Finally, did he truly cry when Michael was murdered in 2009? The incidents that I listed are the incidents that Mr. Branca made sure Michael was involved in and I wonder did Mr. Branca ever had an ounce of sorrow when he watched his "friend" suffered for no damn reason? No, he did not. The fake tears is not going to do anything to change what he did to Michael. People who really pay attention will see that Branca is a sociopath who would do anything to make the public believe that he really cared about Michael and that his legacy will not be made into a mockery. I am too smart to fall for what he was doing. People might be wondering, why did Spike Lee put Branca in this documentary after everything this man has done to Michael? Well, you have to understand that Spike Lee, who means well for the most part, did not do a good job researching about Branca and other people who had no business being on the documentary. The sad reality is that John Branca has been on Michael's side, in a physical sense, definitely not an emotional sense, throughout the 1980s. Branca was more of a handler of Michael's than a music lawyer that SonyBMG, then CBS Records, hired to handle Michael's business affairs. Think about it, why would a music lawyer go on tour with Michael and in the process meets the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles? 


Michael meets Princess Diana and John Branca as well.

That is a bit weird, don't you think? Yeah, I think so as well. That is what is so wrong with the documentary. People who never were there for him, like Mr. Branca, who can speak for him as if they cared are talking about him in a way that you would not think, if you did not follow Michael's career extensively, were ever evil or nasty to Michael. 


Nelson George, ewwww.


Case in point, Nelson George. I remember when I was posting on the facebook.com group called "Michael Jackson Archives", a fan posted a tweet from Nelson George that stated that he was going to participate in the Bad 25 documentary. I was stunned and upset by it. Why would Spike Lee even put that horrible man in the special? Nelson George was always hating on Michael and it reached a fever point during the 2005 trial when he wrote a defamatory, disgusting and horrible article on Michael's troubles. I will never post the article on my precious blog but here is the link to the article  - 


With a simple google.com search and my awesome knowledge of Michael, I found the article that Mr. George did on Michael during one of the worst times of Michael's life. All of that "praise" that Mr. George stated on that documentary was phony, unreal and hypocritical. Mr. Lee could have done this and did everything in his power not to put this Nelson George (he has two first names, SMH) idiot on a special that was suppose to celebrate the greatness of the album Bad. Nelson George could have been replaced by family members, Greg Philligaines even Quincy Jones and his children who actually knew Michael. Yes, I know very well what Quincy stated about Michael, but compared to what Mr. George stated about Michael, Quincy was very nice to Michael. 



Danyel Smith, yeah, I do not get it either.

Another thing that I did not like was the addition of Danyel Smith. Ms. Smith is a writer who became the first female to ever be the editor and chief of the urban magazine Vibe and currently is the executive editor of the website, theroot.com. I am not sure if Ms. Smith ever bashed/trashed Michael when Michael was living but she stated some things in the documentary that I felt were lame to state. During the time that Michael was doing the Bad albums, promotional projects and short films which created the Bad era, Michael's skin color was changing because of the Vitilitgo he famously suffered from. When people saw the changes, they were shocked that Michael was looking a certain way and was even accused of not being black. Ms. Smith probably meant well when she discussed Michael's blackness and applying that to the black culture or something relating to that. All she could have stated and should have stated that when MJ was doing the short film for "Bad", he was embracing the hood. That is it. No explanation, no criticisms, no applying this to that. Michael was embracing the hood. From shooting the short film in Brooklyn, to being in a nasty, stinking subway to doing dances from the street, Michael was giving a shout out to the hood to let them know that he never forgot about them. Isn't it so hard to state without going nutty about it? Ms. Smith probably never met Michael and have no idea what it was like to be with Michael but you know who did? Cynthia Horner, the former editorial director of the magazine Right On! who knew Michael for years. I am talking about hanging out with him and the family for years.


Michael with Cynthia Horner in 1988.

This woman was personally invited by Michael to come to his Bad tour and do a report about it for Right On! magazine back in the 1980s, from my understanding. Instead of Mr. Lee using Ms. Horner in the documentary to talk about Michael, he brings on some broad who has no clue what she was even talking about to tell me and the viewers about Michael. Ms. Smith needs to go and take a seat somewhere. 


Joe Vogel with Spike Lee. 


Can someone please tell me why Joe Vogel is starting to become the spokesman for the legacy of Michael's music? This is the same Mr. Vogel who had the nerve to compare "Off the Wall" to a song that Michael did not even sing, "Breaking News". If you do not believe me, check out this huffingtonpost.com article Mr. Vogel did on Michael's music. 


"the exceptionally ominous strings in the intro, its "Off the Wall"-esque chorus, or its signature Jackson indictment of a media"
Hilarious, I know. Some people truly are that lame. Instead of dealing with this Joe Vogel character who was never there for Michael and now that Michael is murdered, proclaimed to anyone that would listen to him that he was a "fan", why didn't Mr. Lee contacted Chris Cadman? Mr. Cadman is the founder of the facebook.com group Michael Jackson Archives and who is the co-author of the books Michael Jackson: The Early Years (2002), The Jacksons Number Ones(2003), Michael Jackson For the Record (2007) and the re-issued one in 2009. Here is the link if you want to know more - 

http://www.michaeljacksonfortherecord.com/authors.html


For the Record the book.

Mr. Cadman seems to be a great choice to talk about Michael's music from the perspective of a fan who was actually there for Michael and respects the music of Michael's. Not only that, but Mr. Cadman has rare items of Michael during the Bad era that would have been very interesting for the viewer to witnessed when watching the documentary. As usual, Spike Lee didn't even bother. 



Sheryl Crow, yeah her. 

Sheryl Crow, and I am going to give it to her, makes good songs. I actually have one of her songs on my Ipod. I am not ashamed to state that. However, that is as far as I am going to go with the Sheryl Crow praise. I do not think she was ever a great singer and I even compared her vocal abilities to Rihanna stating that she is the rock version of Rihanna, vocal wise. I do not know if Spike Lee was rushing to get the documentary done but why didn't he take a seat and actually do research on the people in Michael's life? I keep on watching the documentary and wondering why such a well educated, smart successful movie director can't even take a few seconds of his day and do a good search of the clowns that he put on this documentary that he did on Michael? It makes no sense to me. If I told Blanket, let's say I was looking after the children, and I told Blanket to go online and find me this rare piece of artifact from the late 1700s, I bet your bottom dollar that Blanket would have done a google.com search and found that artifact and then some. That is how simple it is for Mr. Lee to go on google.com and typed in "Nelson George comments on Michael Jackson" and he would have found the article that I found on Michael that Mr. George did, read it, be disgusted by it and then go and reach out to someone that actually liked the man and get him to do an interview about Michael. Ms. Crow has made a history bashing and trashing Michael and not understanding that the exposure of being on the Bad tour, whether Michael actually physically hand picked her to be his back-up singer or not, made sure that she got her big break so that she could become the rock "icon" that she has become. Why trash the very person who supposedly gave you your big break???? Read this nonsense that this woman stated about Michael in the now gone Blender magazine back in 2004 - 

http://popdirt.com/sheryl-crow-comments-on-michael-jacksons-weirdness/25914/


“Uh, hello?,” Crow responded. “Yeah. There was plenty of weirdness going on. For one, he barely spoke to me in 18 months, and that’s weird, because I’m fascinating, and I can’t believe that he didn’t want to speak to me. But the chimp was out on the road, and the Pepsi kid was around. It was like a weird circus. You sensed that this guy really had no sense of reality at all. It probably wasn’t even his fault. It’s so sad. He told me that his purpose on the planet was to save the children. From what, I don’t know.”
Nasty, not humble, ungrateful, condescending  disrespectful, I mean, I could on for days over what that woman who slept with Greg Philligaines (who was married at the time) during the Bad tour had to state about Michael. Ms. Crow seems bothered that Michael did not want to speak to her and that he hung out with Bubbles a lot and that lame comment that she keeps on stating that Michael never knew her name. I was told that it was not true and that Ms. Crow isn't telling the whole story. Whatever the case, I didn't see the point of her being on there. Interesting note, when the documentary was on television, it started to trend on twitter.com. When Siedah Garrett spoke about Michael, she did not trend but when Sheryl Crow spoke about Michael, she trended. Interesting. Instead of putting that ungrateful woman on there, Mr. Lee could have put Marva King, who is a singer who also did back-up singing with Michael during the Bad era (I mentioned her on one of my blog posts months back) and actually stated very nice things about Michael. Another person would have been Jennifer Batten. 



Michael performing with Jennifer Batten.

She is the guitar player with the wild hair during the Bad tour. Another one of the true blues who have always spoken kindly and truthfully of Michael. Mr. Lee could have also included the two other back-up singers during the Bad tour. Of course, with the lack on research, this is what we have to deal with - the constant mistakes. 






Michael with his family during the Bad Tour. 

I have made it very clear on this blog that I am not a supporter of the Jackson Family. I have my various reasons but the one thing that I noticed is that in every documentary on Michael, Janet and the Jackson family, family members always speak. Whether it be Katherine and Joe, Jackie, the second generation Jacksons/Browns or cousins, family members have always given their two cents on their famous relatives. It would not hurt Mr. Lee to go ahead and reach out to Jackie, Tito, Marlon, TJ, Taj, Brandi, Katherine, etc. and ask them about their precious memories of that time in Michael's and their lives. However, instead of family input, there are people who hated Michael speaking for him as if they knew him. 



A documentary on Janet from the BBC. Family spoke on that one.

I disliked the fact that the Bad 25 documentary implied that Michael had got the inspiration to the short film "Smooth Criminal" through various old school movies. Now, it is a fact that Michael was a fan of old Hollywood movies and got a lot of his inspiration from those movies. However, when he did a special for the Fox Network called Private Home Movies, Michael talked about the inspiration behind Smooth Criminal. Check out the footage here - 



Making of "Smooth Criminal".

You would noticed that Michael stated that "Smooth Criminal" was originally going to be a Western type of short film. That was not mentioned in the documentary and that is crucial because it would have shown the viewer where Michael's head was at when he was coming up with ideas for this short film. Then, Michael mentioned at the last minute that he decided to make the short film a 1945, Chicago type underground thing going on. He never mentioned anything about looking at movies being done by director Vincent Minelli, the father of entertainer and "friend" of Michael's, Liza Minelli and getting inspiration from his movies. What Michael stated on that Private Home Movies was the only time that he ever talked about his mindset when he was doing the "Smooth Criminal" short film. Also, I did not like how the documentary was implying that the famous "Smooth Criminal" lean, that Michael patented in 1993, came from a 1927 Buster Keaton movie. Once again, implied, not actually, factually stated that the lean from that movie was the inspiration to the lean Michael did on "Smooth Criminal". 


Chris Brown with Spike and this air Jordan mess. 

Including Chris Brown and Justin Bieber in the documentary is like including Justin Timberlake in a Prince documentary - no. I have nothing against Chris Brown or Justin Bieber, they are both uber fans of Michael and one has an anger issue and no matter how much he tries, the other one will always look like a ten year old boy. I do not know what Mr. Lee was thinking when he decided to add their "contributions" to the documentary. Chris Brown was born in 1989 and he never experienced the 1980s and Justin Bieber was born in 1994 and barely remembers the 1990s let alone be in a special about an album that was released way before he was even born. Heck, his own mother was like 12 years old when Bad came out, Mariah Carey and Questlove are older than Justin Bieber's mother. I mean, what can these kids tell me about the Bad album or its impact during that time? This is where Mr. Lee can come in instead of putting them on there, add the fans, especially the ones who were blessed enough to attend any of the Bad tour concerts from 1987-1989. Spike Lee could have utilize his accounts on twitter and facebook, his website and literally call the fans that were witnessed to greatness in the late 1980s to participate in the documentary and talk about their experiences. That would have been way better than whatever the heck almost all of the people featured in the documentary had to state about Michael. As for Kanye West, instead of adding him on there, how about including the now Reverend Run and DMC from the iconic rap group Run DMC who worked with Michael on the song "Crack Kills" even though that song did not make it on the Bad album. The viewer would have known that before he did hip hop elements in the Dangerous album, Michael was embracing hip hop on the Bad album.

Conclusion

Overall, I was excited to see the documentary and when I saw it and did like it but there were so many things wrong with the documentary. If I had to give the documentary an grade, it would be a C-. I guess in order for me to actually love a documentary on Michael, I would have to do one because I would have done it right. I understand that it was a "labor of love" that Mr. Lee had to do for Michael but Michael was not only about love but about the truth as well. The truth is that Michael would work very hard on his craft and refuse to release his work to the public until it was done correctly and was done with the respect of the people. How can Spike Lee do this documentary and included people who had zero respect for this man? How can he even allow Mr. Branca to cry about Michael after all of the hell that he gave Michael and to top that off did not even come to the man's own funeral? How can he do this documentary without Quincy Jones and his children to offer their two cents into what it was like to be around greatness? Even if he had to beg the man to participate. 


Michael with Quincy and Kidada Jones in Vibe magazine in 1995.


Quincy is just as important as Bruce Swedien, who by the way, implied during the 2005 trial about Michael that was not very nice. Was Quincy Jones even asked by Mr. Lee? I want to love the documentary as a whole because, like I stated on this blog, I wanted Spike Lee to do one on Michael so bad and when it finally happened, the end result was more bitter that sweet. At the end of the day, the truth about Michael's legacy is more important than any rare footage, picture or positive high note that anyone that state and show about Michael. That is why the fans who did follow Michael's career meticulously need to speak up about what was so wrong with this documentary instead of being afraid of backlash from a group of people that could care less about the truth. If Spike Lee had any respect for Michael, he would have done him justice and worked hard on this project and make sure that the right people were on the project speaking the truth about Michael. 


Michael in 1987.

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Links:
"Jackson's Soul Search"

"Exclusive: The Inside Story Behind Michael Jackson's Controversial New Song and Album"

"Sheryl Crow's Comments on Michael Jackson's Weirdness"

Pictures: 
Some are from my personal hardrive and some are from a google.com search.

Videos:
All of the videos that are posted on this entry are from youtube.com