What is it about?

In 1993, Michael Jackson was working on a music video for 'Addams Family Values' before he was accused of child molestation, leading to its cancellation. In 1996, in the aftermath of the allegations, Jackson revived the idea of the film and made it his own, called 'Michael Jackson's Ghosts.' This article compared Ghosts with the incomplete 1993 version called 'Is This Scary?' to see how Jackson reckoned with his media image before and after the allegations against him.

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Why is it important?

Much has been said of Jackson's media image, his relationship with the media and the various allegations made against him pre and post-mortem. However, Jackson's perspective on his place in the world is often missing. This is largely because Jackson rarely gave interviews and did not discuss the impact these events had on him, instead relying on his artistic expression. The two versions of this film give an invaluable insight into how the allegations affected Jackson's perception of himself as well as his concept of his standing in society that would ultimately shape how he engaged with the world for the rest of his life.


I believe that much of the discourse surrounding Jackson - academically as well as in the mainstream - takes place from afar rather than really trying to get to the heart of how his life experiences shaped him, often discounting the ways in which he chose to communicate with the world, i.e. through the abstract nature of his art. With a recent renewed focus on Jackson's relationship with children in the media over the last few years, Jackson's perspective is missing on account of his death. I hope this article encourages others to gain an understanding of Jackson and his perspective through the work he left behind.

Sam R.M. Geden

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: I’ll be grotesque before your eyes: The expanding monstrousness between Is This Scary? (1993) and Michael Jackson’s Ghosts (1996), Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance, June 2023, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/jafp_00088_1.
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