*Michael, Michael, On the Wall* * * Who’s the –est of them all?
For decades, Michael Jackson’s face, body, voice, actions, beliefs, music, and dancing have been discussed in superlatives and dichotomies, arguably often reflecting as much if not more about ongoing anxieties in U.S. society (in particular regarding race, gender, and sexuality) than about the pop-star himself.
The proposed paper/performance focuses on an alternative set of representations which has emerged alongside the dichotomous discourses of Jackson as black/white, male/female, straight/gay, adult/child, good/evil, etc.: Michael Jackson as trans-figure – transcendental, transgendered, transgendered, transracial, transcultural, transnational, transgenerational, transdisciplinary, transfigured. Drawing on Jackson’s music, dance, films, and interviews, as well as on visual and discursive representations of him created by others, this paper/performance ultimately reflects on the possibilities and pitfalls of trans-politics, trans-discourses, and trans-performances for progressive artists, activists and academics. In the course of this reflection, specific questions are raised as to the differential treatment in academic writing regarding transsexualism, transgenderism, transnationalism, and transracialism, and ideas are offered as to the potential role of a trans-framework within reparations projects.