The Jackson 1

Dominick Britt

ENG 131.01

Professor Lucas

18 November 2015

The Jackson 1

I remember at twelve years old watching television in my living room in the summer of 2009 when the death of Michael Jackson was announced worldwide. I wasn’t a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I did know a little about his music and how great of an entertainer he was. My parents listened to his music when they were growing up, so when I ran in the room to announce the devastating news they were in a state of awe. His death made me curious to learn more about his life and why he was such a great icon. After looking up more information about his life and his music, I could understand why he had so many fans and had such an impact on so many different people around the world.

In “A Star Idolized and Haunted, Michael Jackson Dies at 50,” the author views Michael Jackson’s life through the hardships that he faced. They all started when he was a young child, but most people never knew that. They only saw the lead singer of the famous group with a smile on his face, having a great time performing. Michael Jackson experienced physical and emotional abuse from his father growing up. Michael speaks upon how as a child his father, Joe Jackson, would whip him on his back repeatedly and called him out of his name multiple times. Even though that eventually stopped as he got older, other things kept coming and never seemed to go away. He experienced financial trouble, health issues, and criminal charges. He was told that he had vitiligo, a skin disease which cause a person’s melanin to go away in different parts of their body, so he bleached the rest of his skin so that it wouldn’t be noticeable to the public. He was also accused by a young boy, Made Robson, that he was repeatedly abused by Michael Jackson for over eight years. However, the case was dismissed due to the judge ruling that too much time has passed since then.

He was going through all of these different things while still living the life as a great icon. His family spoke about how great of a person he had to be to put all of that behind him while still working on his music and doing tours; like the songs “Thriller” and “Bad”. Therefore I think that shows a lot of determination and self-confidence.

The other two sources in my bibliography speaks upon Michael Jackson’s success, but in different ways. The first one approaches the rise and fall of his success and how it happened rather quickly. The second one discusses Jackson’s success as one of the first African-American artists. Michael Jackson started off in a singing group with his brothers called the Jackson 5. As he got older, he took on his own solo career. His album Thriller and his famous moonwalk made his popularity shoot to an all-time high. It wasn’t long after that when his sales started to decline. That became hard on him and he wanted to just make music like he once had. He did begin a trend by approaching a different audience, he began to follow his own dream and started producing Pop music. Most people in his time who were Pop artists were Caucasian getting recognition all of the time. He saw that and went after it, eventually becoming, what people would call, the best Pop artist there ever was, earning him the name “King of Pop.” Even though he was never able to go back to his peak in the 1980’s, when he performed as he got older, we could all see the joy on his face that he had when it was the 1980’s.


Annotated Bibliography

Barnes, Brooks. “A Star Idolized and Haunted, Michael Jackson Dies at 50.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 June 2009. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

In Brooks Barnes’ article, “A Star Idolized and Haunted, Michael Jackson Dies at 50,” she explains his life through the trials and tribulations that he faced throughout his lifetime. It was written soon after his death so she was explaining the effects that he left on his loved ones. She gathered quotations from some of his family members and friends about different times in his life and how they felt about it. She describes his success with his brothers and how his success grew when he started his solo career.

He made an extraordinary amount of money because he was such a great entertainer, but with that success came other hardships. Michael Jackson was dealing with personal things that a lot of his fans never knew about, such as the incident with getting extremely injured while trying to do a Pepsi commercial in 1984. When the incident occurred he had his injuries repaired and later after that began to participate in experimenting with plastic surgery. After the big problems in his life dwindled away, he wanted to make a comeback and produce the sounds that he had before. He was just a strong person to be through all of the things in his life and continue to pursue his dreams.


Tyrangiel, Josh. “A Pop Icon’s Death: The Talent and the Tragedy.” Time. Time Inc., 25 June 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

In this article, Josh Tyrangiel discusses the peaks of Michael Jackson’s life and how it quickly went downhill. He talks about how famous Jackson was around the world at the young age of twenty-two. Tyrangiel discusses his most famous albums including Off The Wall, and events that led to his popularity. Not long after those moments occurred, his career started to slowly fall apart in different ways; he started to face personal issues as well as he got older and performed at rare occasions. The joy that we saw on his face was the Michael Jackson that we were all used to, enjoyed, and missed.


Wyman, Bill. “The Pale King – The New Yorker.” The New Yorker. N.p., 24 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

Bill Wyman focused this article on Michael Jackson’s success as an African American who showcased his musical talent in his performances during the pop genre. He was in a time where that style of music was dominated by Caucasian race. African Americans were really held back from becoming pop artists, while Caucasians were becoming well known in this area. As time progressed, African Americans began to crossover and leave the black music to eventually become pop artists, and Michael Jackson was one of the first ones to do it. This definitely helped his career as he not only became the biggest African American star, but the biggest star around the world.

Wyman also discusses how Jackson wasn’t just satisfied with being a popular figure anymore. He wanted to invest his money so it would continue to increase and he would never be in financial trouble, even though he would eventually end up falling into debt. Michael Jackson felt like he had finally made it in America because he was such an iconic figure, and he was making great economic investments.


Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman has visited the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus being featured as a part of the Lenoir-Rhyne Visiting Writers Series. I was unable to attend his presentation so I’ll be summarizing his commentary “My Zombie, Myself.” In this article, Klosterman discusses how people view zombies and what they can possibly mean to us. His argument in this article is that when we see zombies, we see them as our fears and the problems that we face. That is why we get scared when we see them. They are just a personified version of our fears and problems, so in a sense it makes it easier to cope with those things. Zombies can be killed and destroyed so it gives us something to physically diminish the things that seem to always be around that we want to get rid of. You can learn more about Chuck Klosterman by visiting his website,

Jeff Hobbs

Hobbs’ novel the Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace showed us the things that some kids go through. They have all of the intelligence and potential in the world, but are just less privileged. They try to succeed as much as possible, but there comes a point in life where peer pressure is difficult to say “no” to. Even though we only read about this story, we know this probably happens every year to different people.


Knowledge That Is Not Taught

Gerald Graff expresses the concept of knowledge comes with passion of the subject being discussed rather than trying to learn something because it is being imposed. In “Hidden Intellectualism”, Graff states “Students do need to read models of intellectually challenging writing-and Orwell is a great one-if they are to become intellectuals themselves. But they would be more prone to take on intellectual identities if we encouraged them to do so at first on subjects that interest them rather than ones that interest us” (245). This shows that students would be more engaged and eager to learn if it was about subjects of their interest. That is the ultimate goal in school, to gain knowledge at an analytical level. Society has just put mathematics, literature, history, and science at the basis of the learning process.

I feel like Graff’s point makes perfect sense. I feel like I would push myself a lot more if the topics that we are taught were actually of my interest. I want to be successful and get a degree so I do my work anyway, but I think I would view learning in a different way if I liked the subjects. I think that’s what Graff is really try to say in this section of the book. For example, even if an article is longer than usual, if it is about a topic of your interest, then you are still going to read the entire article and try to understand everything about it to its fullest. The way a person thinks when they are trying to understand something to the fullest will help them gain more knowledge if they were just doing it because they felt like it had to be done. I believe that America has reached that point in education. A degree and diploma is more important than actual knowledge being gained by the students.

The reasoning that Graff used in this text actually seems to be very logical. It is obvious that people are going to be more interested in topics of their interest, so they would want to pay attention and challenge themselves. That is a lot more productive than students just writing papers and doing worksheets because they feel like they have to. There is not any progress being made at that point. They are not putting forth all of their ability because they just want to finish and are not getting anything out of it. Education starts losing its meaning when the cognitive increase comes to an end for the students. That seems to be where this society is at this point. Many people are just focused on getting diplomas and degrees instead of actually gaining knowledge, so all of the long hours we spend in a classroom and the library has really been wasted.

Graff does a good job explaining different examples and his personal experiences. He mentions how he preferred reading Sports Illustrated magazines instead of typical books that were read in school. His reason behind this example is to show that he still thought on the same analytical level as other people reading fiction or nonfiction books. The books and magazines are just perceived in two different ways because one is completely about sports. Everyone likes different things so they will enjoy reading something to their liking. The bottom line behind it all is if the student is actually gaining knowledge and thinking in depth while reading whatever he or she is reading. Knowledge is not just limited to the things that are taught to us in the classrooms. In all honesty, more can be learned outside of the classroom than what is taught to the students. That seems to be what administrators and teachers fail to realize, which I do not understand because they were once students and most likely gave more effort in the subjects to their liking.

Graff also mentions that the topics outside of the ones that are being taught are organized very much like the world that we will have to live in one day. In sports, there is competition and lots of hours of hard work and dedication to win the game or match. When that is related to things in the real world, like jobs, there are other employers that are trying to beat you so they can gain the promotion before you do, which would be the team that you are playing against. You also have to show up to work on time and perform at a high level to get a paycheck, which would be equivalent to the hard work and dedication to achieve a win in sports. That teaches the students more about what to expect in the real world than science, history and mathematics.

In conclusion, Gerald Graff believes that knowledge is gained when the person is actually interested in a specific topic. Society should not base someone’s intelligence off of the subjects that are being taught in schools. Graff believes that the same amount of knowledge that is gained from being taught those subjects, can be obtained from any subject a student is interested in learning about. It is all about thinking on an analytical level, which can be done on any topic in the world. Subjects outside of the ones that are being taught in schools can teach a student a lot more about the world than the ones that are being taught. But since the students are not interested in the topics that they are learning, they are not putting forth all of their potential. That prevents them from gaining as much knowledge as they can because they aren’t challenging themselves.

Works Cited

Graff, Gerald. “Hidden Intellectualism.” They Say/ I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. Print.

Jaki Shelton Green

I feel like the poem had way more meaning than it appears when first reading it. Everything about this poem is important. Green never capitalized the letter “I” throughout the entire poem. I feel as if she did that to take the attention off of herself and make the readers feel more like they could relate to her. Keeping the “I” lowercase just made it seem like she wasn’t really talking about herself personally. I think the repetition of the phrase “I know the grandmother one had hands” shows how hard a grandmother works and also how many different tasks a grandmother knows how to complete. That is a stereotypical grandmother trait so I think Green was connecting with the audience on that part as well. The last thing I took from this poem is she kept saying things about her grandmother in the past tense. So I think her grandmother died and she is reminiscing on the good things her grandmother did for her.

Hidden Intellectualism

I would have to agree with what Gerald Graff is saying in this part of the book. Everyone is not interested in the same things so schools should incorporate a wide variety of topics for the interest of the students. The ultimate goal of school systems is keeping the children anxious to learn every day they come to class so they can make progress. Children aren’t going to be eager to learn about something that they aren’t interested in.