Song Title - Black Or White
Year - 1991
Genre - Dance Pop
Director - John Landis
Michael Jackson is one of the most controversial, yet popular figures in the whole music industry, and his videos are know for being unusual, interesting and in some cases, having unusually high budgets for Music Videos.
There are two main parts to the music video. The first part is at the beginning of the video and lasts until 1.47. This part of the video is Narrative based and is extended from the original track for the video. The second part of the video lasts from that point until the end of the video, and is more performance based as well as having some Concept aspects to it. The second part includes footage and shots from scenes around the world, with people from different culture's and places dancing with Jackson. There is also a part of the video where people's heads are morphed together and they are lip-synching, which I will discuss later.
The first part of the video includes three well known actors in Tess Harper, George Wendt, and a then ten-year-old Macaulay Culkin, who had already starred in a film, Home Alone. Culkin's character is playing his music loudly in his bedroom, annoying his father (Wendt) who is trying to watch baseball on the Television and shouts for him to turn it off. When he gets no response he goes upstairs to shout at the young boy, before slamming the door shut and smashing a framed picture of Michael Jackson that was hanging on the back of the door. The boy gets his own back by setting up large speakers behind his father's chair in the downstair's room and switching the volume up to 'Are You Nuts!?!'. He then plays the instrument, shattering the windows in the house and sending his father flying out through the roof still in his seat.
Important things to note from the first section include:
- Although the first shot lasts 29 seconds, it doesn't get boring. This is because of the panning, movement and speed of the camera. If you want to use a single shot for a long period of time, you need to ensure it isn't boring for the audience.
- Using three relatively big-name actors shows the influence of Jackson, and the budget of this video.
- This part is extended from the original song - in the original there were just two voices shouting about what we can now see, this is an extended version from that.
- The video contradicts common conventions - you would normally expect fast paced shots and cuts, this video however, is more like a film in the way the visuals are on screen (for example, the length of time each shot is on for is more like a film than a music video).
- When Culkin speaks to the camera at 1.10, it is very much like he does in the film Home Alone, showing intertextuality between the two. This is probably the preferred reading of this shot, although people who haven't seen 'Home Alone' wouldn't pick up on it.
|Three frames form a morph from George W. Bush to Arnold Schwarzenegger showing the mid-point between the two extremes|
- Jackson's influence and budget is clear once again, with the equipment (greenscreens), number of extras, settings and special effects used.
- The amount of extras used would be much more likely to be used in a film than in a Music Video.
- The video moving away from common conventions is clear again with the green screen and the extras, both would be more common in a film.
- The video follows to the lyrics to a certain extent, and gives out a message that relates to real life.
- The actions of the star of the video (Jackson) represent his real personality - ie. quite eccentric and energetic.
"Controversy was generated concerning the last four minutes of the original music video. Jackson walks out of the studio as a black panther and then morphs into himself. Then he walks outside to perform some of his most physically complicated dance techniques, in a similar way to "Billie Jean". This part contained sexually suggestive scenes when Jackson starts to grab his crotch and then zips his pants up. In the original version, Jackson is seen smashing windows,destroying a car and causing an inn (called the "Royal Arms") to explode. Jackson later apologized saying that the violent and suggestive behavior was an interpretation of the animal instinct of a black panther, and MTV and other music video networks removed the last four minutes from subsequent broadcasts."
Below is the Official Music Video for 'Black Or White'.