DID YOU READ

The Ten Greatest Things Michael Jackson Ever Did

The Ten Greatest Things Michael Jackson Ever Did (photo)

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A planned TV special on a UK Discovery channel that re-enacts Michael Jackson’s autopsy has been criticized by his estate as being “in shockingly bad taste” and a “blind desire to exploit Michael’s death.” A print ad for the show depicted a corpse on a steel table covered by a sheet, with a hand sticking out revealing Michael’s signature white glove. Whether it works as an ad or not I don’t know, but I do know that it continues a long tradition of insensitive media exploitation — much of which Michael certainly brought on himself. But, so as not to dwell on the negative at year’s end, and fresh off his first real posthumous release, here’s a look at the best of what the King of Pop did while he was still alive. I’ll leave out the obvious, moonwalk, which I encourage you to do immediately after reading this list.


10. “The Wiz”
Sidney Lumet’s 1978 film adaptation of the popular Broadway musical of the same name was a total failure in theaters, but this strange re-imagining of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” through the filter of the African American experience starring Richard Pryor, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson lived on, on TV and probably in some children’s nightmares. His Scarecrow was one of the few characters that didn’t freak me out, but Michael is almost totally unrecognizable. It wouldn’t be the last time he’d be hard to identify.


9. Late 90’s film forays
His cameo in “Men In Black II” is terrible, but the Michael Jackson vehicles, “Ghosts” and “Moonwalker,” were the kinds of fantasy films he made for kids in that were super fun to watch, even if he wasn’t that great of an actor. The video games they spun off were awesome looking too, if they didn’t always play well. It’s a shame he didn’t get around to making more of these, you know, for kids.


8. “Captain EO”
The best of Michael’s adventures in filmmaking was obviously the Francis Ford Coppola/George Lucas 3-D adventure, “Captain EO.” Because in the 80’s no one could get enough “Star Wars,” some of us still can’t. If you pocketed your “Tron: Legacy” glasses, now’s the time to put them to good use:


7. “Black Or White”
After disappearing from the public eye for a little while, Michael brilliantly revealed himself as some kind of colorless/raceless creature and if even for a moment, started a conversation about race, culture, ethnic identity and what it means to be human that is rarely addressed. This video also marked a beginning for that cool morphing effect not seen in music videos before, nor much on TV at all before this aired. Together with the film, “Terminator 2” released just a few months prior, a new age of special effects began.


6. “Human Nature”
This ballad off of 1982’s “Thriller,” is one of the smoothest songs ever recorded. It should be noted that Michael didn’t write it, but the way he delivered it and the honesty of his vocals make it absolute R&B/pop gold, that has never been surpassed.

5. “Thriller” / “Indian Thriller”
A song, and album that needs no introduction… and without it, we wouldn’t have sensational stuff like this:


4. The Scandal
The bane of Michael Jackson was his genuine love for children. He was never proven guilty of the alleged crimes, and I side with the law. The truth is simple really — he sought to give others what he never had, what he tried to reclaim all his life; his childhood. Add a colossal amount of money, a penchant for loafers and wax Elvis’ and shit, and you have a scandal in the making. What was so fascinating was what it exposed about everyone other than Michael, whom we already knew was a total freak. Anyone predisposed to hate outliers and eccentrics condemned him immediately — he’s a freak, he’s guilty, hang him! Others who thought he was a dangerous example to others were just waiting to pounce on a black man who was slowly redefining his blackness, and then morphing himself into something that transcended race/ethnicity entirely. What was he now? Some people can’t cope without easy labels. And therein lay Michael Jackson’s true genius, to be totally undefinable. When all of this came up and out at dinner tables it did as much to spark conversation and address people’s prejudices, as any other event of the decade.


3. “Rock With You”

Do you like to dance? Even people who don’t will get down to this most genius number off of 1979’s brilliant album, “Off The Wall.” It’s the shit, and everyone owes this man a debt because of it. The video is out of this world too, just look at that tremendous outfit.


2. The White Glove.
Michael showed how you can roll out the house wearing one sparkly white glove, light your hair on fire, do a little dance, ride a choo choo around on your front lawn with a monkey and it’s all good. Because in a generally conformist society where being yourself is often a detriment, and our role models tend to be sportos who all look alike — they even wear uniforms to make sure of it — we need all the one-gloved freaks we can get.


1. “We Are The World”
You can’t even believe how many legends are packed into this supergroup. All thanks to Lional Richie and Michael Jackson, who temporarily saved the world, for you and me.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.