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Michael Jackson: Grasping the Spectacle (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series) Paperback – September 21, 2012

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews


'... offers a captivating overview, detached and critical, it highlights and revisits in an illuminating way the narrative layers of a postmodern artist...'. --Volume! (translated from French)

About the Author

Christopher R. Smit is Associate Professor at the Department of Media Studies, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan in the USA.

Product Details

  • Series: Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series
  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New edition edition (September 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409446964
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409446965
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,290,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First of all, I have to say that for me, not a native English speaker, this book was very hard to read. It is overloaded with complex words and terminology - on top of elaborated linguistic and philosophic constructions that would be hard to understand even if they were explained in pictures. In other words, "Grasping the spectacle" is not easy to grasp. I have to admit, in some places I found myself utterly lost as to what an author was trying to express.

But while on the surface the book seems "intelligent" and complicated, in many cases I found the essays hollow and lacking substantial meaning. Maybe in part this was due to my language barrier, but a lot of this also had to do with topics raised and approaches chosen. While the book offers a range of new perspectives on Jackson, most of them seem somehow artificial.

For example, one of the essays takes a bunch of random works of art depicting Jackson (some of them are openly hideous) and tries to attach some sort of significance to them. Another essay tries to offer an analysis of Jackson's 3D Disney film "Captain EO" as a utopian piece. Well, I guess technically one could interpret the film like that and draw parallels with the Cold War etc., but at some point you feel the author's got carried away. After all, "Captain EO" was conceived as a kids' attraction! One more essay presents Jackson's persona itself as a cyberpunk text, a specimen of the genre. Umm... okay, but what sense is this supposed to make in relation to the human being? Among other essays the book includes chapter "Freaks" from Margo Jefferson's "On Michael Jackson". If you are familiar with that work, this book continues its traditions, only the writing is more complicated, and the point is often even more obscured.
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Michael Jackson: Grasping the Spectacle (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series)
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