On Watching Michael Jackson's Thriller Music Video
I’m just watching the start of Thriller, where Michael Jackson says “I’m not like other guys… I’m different…” then turns into a werewolf. Funny funny stuff. And the pretty girl screams throughout so gratifyingly. My only gripe is that Jackson doesn’t tear her limb from limb there and then, but instead draws it out into a looong classic pop song. Oh well.
I am still surprised and love the way it suddenly converts into the movie, stepping playfully out of the scene in a shift out of the horror trance to the pop trance which perfectly conveys the complex nature of the pop sublime which Jackson hits so perfectly in this song.
How’s Thriller produce the sublime effect?
In Thriller, the tropes of horror movies are linked brilliantly to the natural dance lyricism of disco music. Both forms are transcended in the process, but the song itself suffers from being inseperable from the movie clip. That is to say, the use of the horror tropes are no longer effective when the visuals aren’t present.
A similar problem happens with Britney Spears, but for a different reason. Her songs lack substance so the clips are the only substantial fare she can offer – they are frankly better than the songs. Watch the video clip for “Stronger” with Spears dancing solo with chair, and you will see what I mean. I didn’t know a clothed girl could do that with a steel chair!
Anyway, where was I… ghouls, yes.
Ghoulish Michael Jackson is pure pop sublime. Forget the disco trope of living to dance – this guy is dying to dance. It’s freaken hilarious. And the dance moves are so damn funny, so serious and humorous and light and strange and toylike, I’m lost for words.
The pop sublime has no brighter star than Michael Jackson’s Thriller clip.. Just as Blondie consistently hits the dubious pinnacle of heroin chic with her clips, so Jackson hits the purer high of the camp pastiche aesthetic in both horror and disco. And in the sum of the clip, it can only be called sublime.