There has been a lot of controversy over the late Michael Jackson, so I decided to watch one of the videos called Beat It:
The dancing was good, but I thought it was unrealistic that gangsters would dance so beautifully. In the Sopranos, for instance, there isn't a lot of dancing. So I wondered how accurate the vid was about gangsters. Secondly, the motivation attributed to the gangsters seemed incorrect. Two gangsters are having a turf battle when Jackson arrives to tell them that it doesn't matter who's right or wrong. I get the feeling with gangsters that right and wrong are not particularly germane, but that they are thinking instead purely about power without regard to right or wrong, and without regard whatsoever to the law in general, or to the rightness that their actions may or may not represent and which might reinforce their power with legitimacy. Power is the only legitimation for gangsters.
If a gangster did dance, and cared about right and wrong, I still don't think this is how gangsters would dance. I couldn't for instance understand the elongated motions of the leg through raised arm meant in terms of the signification of power especially when the hand that has been raised wasn't in a fascist salute. The softness of the swaying bodies as they inched across the stage also struck me as artistic, but not connected to gangsters in a specific or in a general sense. So the choreography seemed uncorrelated with the theme, and the logic of the ideas (that an artist type could intervene in a turf battle and reposition right and wrong as the locus of the discussion, and yet to also deny that anybody could ever actually be right or wrong, just beautiful in their dancing, seemed oddly incorrect, and out of any true relationship to what might be happening in such an instance, or to the values to which such gangsters might subscribe).
If it did seem relevant to the gangsters that they should just "beat it," because it didn't matter what was wrong or right in this instance, then what does matter to the gangsters? If they should beat it because they couldn't dance as well as Jackson, I wonder too if that is true. The top two gangsters were doing very nicely. They were trying to knife one another for material power, which does not seem to the singer/dancer in red represented by Mr. Jackson to be at all relevant to HIS values, and yet they all end up in unison dancing together shortly after his intervention into the scene, and their dancing is rather advanced. I might even say that in certain sequences it supersedes that of Mr. Jackson himself, who is wearing light socks under black trousers. I can imagine the gansters' fashion sense would be offended if not their innate sense of Realpolitik as the only arbiter of right and wrong.
The illogical motivations, the irrelevant gestures, and the lack of any unifying argument in the dance made me wonder why someone didn't say something at the studio level. I won't deny that Mr. Jackson could dance, or that it was interesting on a purely physical level, but as a philosophy of non-violence, it didn't seem to even attempt to get to the bottom of the turf battle's issues, nor did it seem realistic that such a dancer would actually succeed in getting gangsters to dance at all well, much less so well.
I watched the video, stupefied. It seems to be a kind of childish daydream that war can cease if everybody takes dancing lessons from Mr. Jackson.
Imagine Hamas agents dancing with agents from Mossad. Imagine communists and capitalists getting it on in a darkened disco. Imagine Sioux and Custer's men, dancing it out, and finding harmony in geography through choreography.
Not many people can really dance any more. Michael Jackson could dance. If we could only dance out our anger, the film seems to say, all war would cease. Wouldn't you have to be on all kinds of medication to believe this?