Thursday, September 17, 2015

Let's Make a Movie: Michael Jackson

So: Michael Jackson was a member of the Jackson 5, yes?

And then he released Off the Wall, which spawned a number of sizable, pleasantly funky late-70s hits.

However, as a thought experiment, let’s imaging that before he could complete the album Thriller, he was in a car accident, or contracted pneumonia or some such, and as such the album never came out. Michael Jackson was a famous pop singer, to be sure, but he was never Thriller famous.

Were this the case, he would definitely still be alive, I suspect everyone who thinks seriously about it would agree. Alive, dramatically less crazy than he was toward the end of his life (fame is, after all, a toxic state in which to be and one that will absolutely drive you mad if you let it), in his fifties and reaching the point in his life where he was considering whether or not he still had it in him to mount a proper comeback to a career that likely petered out at some point decades previous.

So: Here’s my movie.

Hollywood is constantly making biopics of famous performers, actors win awards for playing their heroes, we get to watch a cleaned-up, warts and some version of our idol’s life, it’s all quite interesting if somewhat sanitized, but what’s never been made is an ALTERNATE HISTORY biopic of a famous performer.

Our POV character will be a music documentarian following Michael Jackson around and interviewing his family, friends and staff as he prepares himself for his comeback. Not the huge, bombastic Michael we know, but rather the logical progression of Off the Wall-era Michael, the laid back, chilled out, funky everyman, forty years later, relaxed and at peace, having never been swept up in the whirlwind that was his life as the king of pop and in the private time this allowed him having at some point come to terms with his past.

We see him, older, wiser but still vital, working on music that genuinely doesn’t care about sounding contemporary, more interested in doing work he enjoys than being rewarded by the pop world at large, and as we do we see him revitalized by the very throwback-ish nature of the music that he’s making, settling into a groove and getting genuinely excited about making music once more, and we then follow him up to the album’s release and the first night of his tour of mid-sized concert halls, seeing him see the smaller crowds than he’s used to, and seeing too that he doesn’t really mind. After all, he will say in a monologue that will make up the centerpiece of the film, he’s a musician, and a performer, but he’s not a politician. He doesn’t need to please everyone all the time…

Handled correctly, with the right actor playing Michael, I think this could be a powerful story to tell, a much more interesting way to handle the life of such a complex figure than the traditional biographical film. And I think that, marketed correctly, it could be a hit as well.

Everyone, after all, loves Michael Jackson.

The soundtrack, I should think, will be produced by Pharell, and will be light and fresh and bouncy, reminiscent of Off the Wall but also poignant, as it like the film will remind us of what could have been and in doing so make what was all the more heartbreaking.

I think this film would be a success.

Off the Wall, after all, was a better album than Thriller anyway.

And yes, I know that’s going to get me some hate.

I stand by the opinion…

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