On Michael Jackson: Margo Jefferson wrote a book about Michael Jackson in 2006. Now in the year that marks what would have been Jackson’s 60th birthday she comes to Bristol on 2 July to talk about his legacy.

Margo Jefferson

This blog provides links to relevant reviews, interviews and articles.

Reviews of On Michael Jackson

The New York Times: The ABC’s of That Damaged Man in the Mirror – Martha Soutgate 24 January 2006

What she does is attempt to put Mr. Jackson and his obvious emotional difficulties into some sort of social, racial and cultural context and to do that rare thing, show some thoughtful compassion.

London Review of Books: Blame it on the boogie – Andrew O’Hagan 6 July 2006

Margo Jefferson’s essay on Michael Jackson displays a lively understanding of black performing history…. Jefferson makes clear the extent to which the former child star is a loose-limbed signifier for the kinds of issue that matter to cultural studies majors: black history, gender politics, the aesthetics of the closet and all that. But Jefferson is enough of a writer to convince one, rather quickly, that the big-hearted, firm-minded essay – more than the novel or the biopic – may be the place where such issues can begin to find their most open-ended resolution.

Interview with Margo Jefferson

The GuardianMargo Jefferson: ‘It’s too easy to recount unhappy memories when you write about race’ – Steven J Thrasher 3 November 2015

Jefferson is no stranger to reexamining the modern American family. Her first book, On Michael Jackson, was published a few years before his death, during a period of his life in which ‘you would have thought he had never contributed anything’ to music. Jefferson was interested in examining him as a musician at a time when the star’s personal drama had overshadowed the importance of his work. ‘[It took] his death for him to be resurrected and brought back into the performer’s canon, and it really made me so angry that as soon as he died … they all reclaimed King Michael.’

The Rumpus: The Rumpus Interview with Margo Jefferson – Dylan Foley 9 October 2015

The world I grew up in had both a literal and mythological quality. We were on the borders of several worlds—the larger black world bordered us on one side. More distantly, there was the larger white world. We interacted with some, but not others. If you think of it as an internal geography, it is a land, a contested space with these very charged historical, cultural, and emotional borders.

The Writer: The Writer Interview: Margo Jefferson – Alicia Anstead 28 March 2016

The Michael Jackson book was moving from contained criticism to essayistic criticism. I’m so interested – as I said before – in critical authority mingled with ambivalence and uncertainty. How can you not bring that to Michael Jackson? My editor and I were talking about him at lunch one day. We were having lunch to talk about a possible book. I said that I was mesmerized by Michael Jackson. We agreed he was a genius, and my editor said it would be nice to see him get his due before he completely self-destructs. I was not able to write the book in time to do that. But I said absolutely. We knew we had it.

Article by Margo Jefferson

Washington Post: Michael Jackson: The King And Us – 27 June 2009

We Americans are childish about our celebrities and icons. We worship, then we denounce; we identify passionately with them and then, if they do something — anything — we dislike, we cast them off. We actually have a chance to treat Michael Jackson differently. We can live with his outsize torment and self-abuse. At the same time, we can bask in his outsize talent and artistry. They aren’t a well-matched pair. They don’t have to be. He was flawed, and he was sublimely gifted.

Image credit: Michael Lionstar


Listen Again: Margo Jefferson in 2016/