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Michael Jackson's Ressentiment: Billie Jean and Smooth Criminal in Conversation with Fred Astaire

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Little attempt is made at juxtaposing Michael Jackson's art against that of his cultural predecessors. Reading Billie Jean (1983) and Smooth Criminal (1988) in conversation with Fred Astaire's popular 1953 musical, The Band Wagon, for example, exposes all sorts of intertwining threads of significance and ressentiment, particularly in terms of race relations and cultural appropriation. Yet my purpose in this paper is not to assign the last word to either Michael Jackson or Fred Astaire, but to analyze what sort of ramifications their dialogue may have for American popular imagination.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-05-01

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