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“When You Have to Say ‘I Do’”: Orientalism in Michael Jackson's “Liberian Girl”

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In the song “Liberian Girl” (Bad, 1987), Michael Jackson deploys the textual and musical semiotic clich├ęs of Orientalism as a primary storytelling device. Through detailed music and textual analyses of this and other songs written by Jackson, this study demonstrates that Jackson's Orientalism transcends mere reiteration of the Western male desire to enhance a sense of supremacy through artistic representation of the feminine exotic “other”; rather, Jackson co-opts Orientalism towards implying a place for himself within the mainstream of dominant American society and social culture.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2011.618051

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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