Epic/Legacy (88697 76051 9)
By Gillian G. Gaar
DVD collections like the two-volume “HIStory On Film” might have some nice extras (like Michael Jackson’s landmark appearance on the “Motown 25” TV special), but if you’re looking for the best way to acquire all of Jackson’s solo videos in one place, “Michael Jackson’s Vision” is the set for you.
And over the course of 35 visions, you watch that “vision” evolve. The early videos, like “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” from “Off The Wall,” have undeniably cheesy effects, but there’s also a simplicity about that them that ironically lets Jackson’s power shine through in a greater way than the later elaborate productions.
It also becomes clear that Jackson’s striving to become increasingly “elaborate” is what pushed him over into parody, destroying a career built on talent until it was nearly forgotten that talent had ever existed in the first place (in the last decade of Jackson’s life, particularly in America, the media chose to focus on whatever the latest scandal was, instead of his music). You can easily see that “Thriller” was the tipping point. “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” are the best videos Jackson did, and the moment when he looked at his best. The “Thriller” video was groundbreaking at the time, but afterwards Jackson was trapped in a mindset of having to top himself again and again. But bigger isn’t necessarily better. The lengthy intros for “Bad” and “The Way You Make Me Feel” go on and on and on to the point where you reach for the remote because you’re wondering when the actual video will start. The same can be said of the lengthy outro of “They Don’t Care About Us”; c’mon, you’ve made your point already!
At the time “Black Or White” was released, it was controversial because in its extended outro, Jackson repeatedly rubbed his crotch. But the larger issue is that the sequence really makes no sense (the rampant violence also seems to underscore the song’s theme of peace ‘n’ love ‘n’ unity). Jackson’s increasing strangeness sometimes worked to his advantage — in “Scream,” he’s totally believable as an alien, as David Bowie was in “The Man Who Fell To Earth” — and you are always left wondering as to what Jackson will do next. This set also includes seven bonus videos, including three from the “Blame It On The Boogie”-era Jacksons, “Say Say Say” with Paul McCartney, and the previously unreleased “One More Chance.” There’s over four hours of material here, the videos proving to be just as key to Jackson’s legacy as the music.