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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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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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