Thursday, November 20, 2014

Magazine Scans: People Magazine and Michael

You probably do not even know it but the popular magazine, People, is celebrating 40 years in publication this year and the magazine could not celebrate their milestone without mentioning Michael. The magazine have been following Michael's amazing career from their beginning in 1974 when Michael was 16, covered his historical career, the ups and downs of his celebrity, his horrific death and now covers his legacy and his heirs, his children. The reason why I am doing a blog post about the magazine is not because I want to celebrate their milestone. I am doing the post to show how this magazine went from idolizing Michael to slowing bashing him when things did not look good for Michael. I have a collection of Michael on the cover of the magazine which shows how the magazine changed their demeanor towards him. The magazine was a reflection of how most of the mainstream treated him over the years and currently. 

Michael on the cover of People in 1983. 

During the 40 years of People covering Michael, he has been on the cover of their magazine 16 times and featured probably over 100 to 200 times. (I do not know this for a fact, but it is probably true.) As Michael's fame started to reach superstar status, the media, in particular, People, started to portray him as an eccentric celebrity who isn't part of reality. Before the magazine focused their attention on Michael's personal life and not his career, they were pretty much supportive towards him; almost fan-like. 

I have a huge magazine collection and I have most of the issues with Michael on the cover. As I was doing research for this entry, I noticed the massive change the magazine did to Michael from 1985 to 1987. After 1987 up until his death in 2009, People have never really supported him. I will post a series of magazine covers and features that I have, some of them with the articles, to show you the changes. Let's start with their cover story they did on Michael in February of 1984 when he was severely burned.

Michael on the cover in 1984. So handsome.

As you read the article, you will notice how they stated that they got the exclusive of what was happening to Michael when he was being treated for the burns. You will also realized how they were stating Michael's future plans and even the book deal he had with Jackie Kennedy Onassis. (That later became the Moonwalk autobiography). 

The next issue is from the same year that talks about the Victory tour. 

Michael on the cover July of 1984. 

The title of the article states the type of behavior the media had towards Michael 30 years ago: Magic. The article talks about the popularity of the tour and all walks of life coming to watch Michael rock their worlds. Michael was treated by People with adoration and respect. There were no name calling or snide comments. 

People magazine were so obsessed with him during that time that they did a special magazine issue just on him. There was even a commercial to promote the special issue. 

Michael on the cover of People Extra, probably the magazine's first special issue covers.

The next cover focuses on the "We Are The World" charity song and Michael's humanitarian efforts. 

Michael on the cover in 1985. 

After this issue, Michael did a few things like Captain EO and working on the Bad album. As for as the media, Michael was pretty much low key until pictures of Michael sleeping in a hyperbolic chamber surfaced on the cover of the National Enquirer. There was no explanation at the time why Michael was sleeping in the chamber. Then, there were rumors of Michael purchasing the Elephant Man Bones that were being reported to all of the media outlets. However, when Michael premiered the Bad short film for a CBS special in 1987, the media started to state things about Michael that hung on to him up until his death. People magazine did a cover story on what they believe was going on. 

On the cover in 1987. 

In a three year period, the magazine went from calling him "Magic" to stating that he was "weird". They even focused on the changing color of his skin and assumed that he "bleached" his skin. Even though there is no evidence that People created the rumor that Michael made changes to the color of his skin, it does not help when they implied that he changed his skin color. In the picture the magazine provided of Michael's changing looks from a ten year period, they wanted to state that there were drastic changes to his looks. In no way was the magazine trying to get the reader to understand that no one will look the same in a ten year period, especially, in Michael's case at that time, he was a teenager in 1977 and his looks was going to change anyway. People even insulted him stating that he was starting to look like a woman - particularly his sister, Janet. This was the time period where the media, People included, started to attack Michael very harshly over a few changes in his face and career. Michael responded to the harsh criticsm when he released a statement. Of course, People did a cover story about it. 

On the cover in October of 1987. 

Now, People ignores Michael's plea and calls it "strange". This was the beginning of the magazine's unusual relationship with Michael. After these cover stories, the magazine decided to view Michael was a weird, strange entertainer who could be crazy. Their cover stories and features on Michael will include some sort of insult in their writing. This continued until his death in 2009. 

Michael and Madonna on the cover in 1991. 

When singer Madonna took Michael to the 1991 Oscars as a date, the media went insane. Two pop icons going together to the biggest Hollywood event of the year. People magazine did a cover story on the event and read the headline - yep, calling Michael "weird" and stating that their friendship was "strange". In the issue, it was discuss about the future projects both performers were doing but they made it clear to view their union as an very off and weird situation. If you want to read the article to this issue, click here-

When the false allegations hit in 1993, Michael made a terrible mistake and settled the situation in 1994. People did a cover story about this. 

Even though I do not think he should settled the case, assuming that the deal was "dangerous" was not a smart thing to imply when the facts about why Michael settled was not known at the time. 

In May of that year, Michael wed Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, and the magazine did a cover story about their union. 

Michael and Lisa Marie Presley on the cover in 1994. 

The heading, adding the fact that she had two small children at the time and trying to make the assumption about Michael being with her children was a bad idea. The comment about the baffling questions without looking into the fact that they had a romantic relationship before he married her was done to create doubt about their union. I posted this magazine and the article in one of my previous blog posts in 2012. Here is the link to the post -

The magazine does another article, a week later, discussing Michael and Lisa Marie's visit to Budapest. As expected, People makes it an effort to poke fun of Michael yet follow what he and his then wife were doing at the country. Typical media hypocrisy. 

Then, in 1996, Lisa Marie filed for divorce and People had a field day. 

On the cover in 1996. 

The heading, once again, is misleading and making the assumption that she left the marriage as an escape from whatever "craziyness" she went through with Michael. Even the title of the article gives the reader the impression that Lisa Marie was giving a message to Michael when she filed for divorce. Of course, at that time, we had no idea what happened in their marriage. Once it was revealed of what really happened, thanks to the interview Lisa Marie did with Rolling Stone in 2003, People probably did not even bother to discuss it. 

I want to make a point that People wanted to create this perception that the women who married Michael were "victims" of his ways and that being with Michael was an unusual experience. The magazine failed to show Michael's side of the story. Information that surfaced about both of these women and how they treated Michael, were not mentioned in their magazine. 

In 2003, Michael faced another crisis regarding the false allegations of child abuse. People did a cover story about it.

On the cover in 2003. 

When People magazine became tabloid: using a bad picture to make him look "freaky" and "scary", the misleading headline which bring implications of doubt and the questioning of what was happening in Neverland. This was official to me that People had become one of the many media outlets that not only believe Michael probably harmed children, but they also hated the man. After Michael was vindicated, the magazine did not do a cover story or feature in their magazine to discuss the trial or even his innocence, but instead did a poll asking readers about his innocence. In 2007, they did a feature on Michael and implied that Michael was a drug addict. When the Jackson family released a statement that the information from the article were not true, People stood by their story. Before his murder in June of 2009, People did a few things about Michael that made me go, "hmmmmm..."

They did a mentioning of Michael's now infamous press conference for the This is It concerts. They wanted to be nice to him....odd. 

Then there was a list that the magazine did that I thought was ridiculous. I posted the list on my tumblr page and people had a lot of say about it. 

Really? Number 2? Please. 

What was the point of the list? How can Prince be above Michael? How many covers did People did on Prince in the 1980s compared to Michael? That is what I thought. I had over 400 notes on tumblr about this and if you want to read the comments, click here - 

The death of Michael was shocking and as a fan, I was not only trying to deal with Michael's passing but in some way, curious about the media's reaction towards the tragedy. It did not surprised me that People did a few tribute issues to Michael but I was very surprised by the sudden change of heart they had for Michael. 

People's tribute to Michael, 2009.

Both of these issues focus on all aspects of Michael and they were not negative. When they did a cover story of Michael's memorial, I was floored because I started to see the magazine do a 360 on Michael. 

Michael's memorial, 2009. 

Oh, I see. Now, the magazine wants to call him King. They were so quick to state that he was the "self proclaim King of Pop" when he was alive. They are not describing him as "wacky", "unusual", weird" or "crazy" in this article. Remember, this is the same magazine that practically called him a "child molester" and a "drug addict" and stood by that. Now, that Michael has passed on, People wants the public to forget their public bashing of Michael. 

After this issue was release, the magazine started to do updates on Michael's children. Nearly each year since his passing, People has been giving the readers updates on his children. 

Yes, the magazine did a lot of updates on the children. Some might call it creepy, other might call it informative. At the end of the day, People had an weird obsession with Michael and it showed in those articles. 

This year, the magazine released a book on Michael called Michael Jackson His Life in Photos to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his passing. 

People's book on Michael, 2014. 

Recently, People released exclusive pictures of the time Michael hosted Elizabeth Taylor's last wedding at his Neverland Estate in 1991. 

When I was doing the blog post, I was floored by  how much People changed their coverage of Michael's career. One year they were supportive and even fan-like towards the man and then the next few years, they became critical, even evil toward the man. In a way, People magazine's behavior towards Michael represented how all of the mainstream media treated Michael. He was their golden boy for so many years, even with the weird rumors that were created about him, the media never hated him. What could be the reason why in 1984 Michael was the ideal role model for the youth and then in 2003, this same publication made him out to be a villain? What was the turning point? In 1987, Michael was asking the media to be less harsh towards him and instead of listening to his plea, People and the rest of the media, sans Ebony and Jet magazines, ignored his plea and created the circus. That "show" generated over $400 million in sales to the media, which includes People magazine. 

I understand that one magazine cannot be fully blame for every bad thing that happened to Michael but the point of this blog post is not to blame the media. The point of the entry is to show the reader how one publication with massive appeal used Michael's problems to sell their magazines. Instead of reporting the facts about the 2005 trial, the magazine did not cover the trial. Instead of looking into the source that was telling them about Michael's supposed drug use, they stood by their story. Instead of listening to his plea to not vilify him over PR stunts that he pulled to sell an album, something all entertainers do, they ignored his plea. Michael was on the cover of their magazine more than any black entertainer  or luminary in their history. That is unheard of when it comes to a magazine that did more cover stories on white entertainers than any other race. Overall, People should look at their 40 year existence not only because they covered the modern day news of pop culture but in the process, made sure that the biggest entertainer of the last 40 years had to suffer partly from their harsh treatment towards him just so they can sell their magazines. 

Michael in 1984. 

Update 09/04/2017: Since the posting of this entry, there are a couple of updates in regards to People magazine and Michael. In a book called "The Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson", written by Williams B. Van Valin, M.D., Michael stated about the magazine -

The book

Oh, the shade, Michael. 

As you can see, Michael did not give a damn. The magazine still has an obsession with Michael's children. In this issue of People magazine that came out this year - 

Princess Kate with daughter Charlotte on the cover of People, 2017

On page 85, the article titled "The Jackson Kids" discusses how Michael's children are doing. Yes, People magazine keeping their tradition on fake caring about what Michael's children do when they are part of the reason why he is not here to be there for them. Heartless, like the rest of the media.



Blogs -
Magazine Scans: Michael and Madonna at the Oscars in 1991, Apr., 7th, 2012,
Magazine Scans: Michael and Lisa Marie in People magazine, Apr., 14th, 2012, 

Magazines and Tumblr -
The magazines that are scanned:
"Thriller Chiller", Arrington, Carl. People, February 13, 1984. Pages 24-27.
"The Jackson Fireworks", Plummer, William. People, July 23, 1984. Pages 44-47.
"Rocks's Finest Hour", Gold, Todd. People, February 28, 1985. Pages 28-33.
"Unlike Anyone, Even Himself", Durkee, Cutler. People, September 14, 1987. Pages 86-98.
"Hungarian Rhapsody", Santow, Dan and Mikelbank, Peter. People, August 22, 1994. Pages 118-119.
"A Message To Michael", Schneider, Karen S., et. al. People, February 5, 1996. Pages 52-61. 
"The Talent and Tragedy" People, July 13, 2009. Page 8.
"Remembering Michael", People Tribute, 2009. Page 30.
"Farewell to a King". Bartolomeo, Joey, et. al. People, July 20, 2009. Pages 48-55.
"Michael's Last Wish", Tresniowski, Alex, et. al. People. August 17, 2009. Pages 56-59.
"An Uncertain Future", Bartolomeo, Joey, et. al. People. July 27, 2009. Pages 54-57. 
"Life After Michael", Bartolomeo, Joey, et. al. People. February 15, 2010. Pages 75-76. 
"The Jackson 3", Bartolomeo, Joey. People. December 19, 2011. Pages 62-65.
"The Jacksons Inside the Family Feud" from the "Scoop" section of People that discussed the family feud back in 2012. Pages 21-22. 
"Top Ten '80's Artists" People, April 13, 2009. Page 25. To see reaction to the list, click here - 

The magazines from 1983, the second one from 1987, 1994, 2003 and the People special issue covers are from a and search. 

Pictures - 
The exclusive pictures from Elizabeth Taylor's last wedding in 1991 were from

Book/Twitter - 

Excerpt from the book Private Conversations in Neverland with Michael Jackson were posted on the twitter handle @overloved.