Sara Rudolph February 23, 2010 AMD 252 Cultural Category Assignment I. I have chosen one of the most famous artists in pop culture, Michael Jackson. He challenges the ?status quo? of ethnicity, and gender. Michael Jackson first came on the pop culture scene as a member of the 5 in 1964. He later went on to his solo career in 1971 which he made the top hits such as Billie Jean, Thriller, Beat It, and Bad. Thriller to this day still remains the best selling album ever, selling more than 110 million copies. Other than music Michael Jackson has also been in the media about undergoing multiple surgeries, possibly using drugs, him and his kids, and also the infamous child molestation case. Everyone who has seen Michael when he was a child knew that he was African American, but later one in his life his skin color was beginning to lighten and no one knew why. Some people thought he was getting surgery, others thought he was bleaching his skin, and some people thought it is a type of skin disease that is causing his skin to turn lighter. But if you look at the pictures from where he was a kid and recent photos of him there is a drastic change in his appearance and this is why he challenges the ?status quo? of ethnicity and gender. II. The first cultural category that Michael Jackson challenges is ethnicity. When the 5 came into the spotlight everyone knew of Michael and his family as all African American descent. Later in Michael?s life he started to get patches of lighter skin, and got multiple surgeries. When people think of African Americans they relate that to dark skinned, big noses and lips, and being bigger in size. Michael Jackson has challenged all of those traits. He has gotten surgeries to thin his nose, uplift his face, surgery for his lips, and those are just a few. Michael is also not big in size he doesn?t look like your average African American who eats southern food all the time, he also doesn?t dress or act like his ethnicity as our society sees them. Michael is a very special and independent artist who came on the scene with his dance moves which were angular and twitchy, hinting at digital stops and starts rather than analog fluidity, except, of course, for his famous moonwalk (Pareles, 2009, p. A23). This is what made him stand out from the rest of the entertainers and people were interested in him because he had a great imagination and wasn?t afraid to express himself. Most African Americans these days are known to be just hip/hop and R&B singers, but Michael broke that thought in our minds that not only white people can be pop artist and be successful but black people could be too. The other cultural category Michael Jackson challenges is gender. He challenges this status quo because he never dressed or looked as your typical male. There has been suspicion that Michael was gay but he also married two females in his life, and had kids with one of them. Michael has challenged the gender status quo by wearing sequin gloves, getting plastic surgery, and wearing make-up. The messages that are being conveyed by these two cultural categories is that he is trying to say that he is his own person, he wants to be different, but also mysterious. People in our society have respect for Michael because he has been so successful and we love his music, but offstage in his personal life we aren?t that big of a fan of his because of all the rumors that have made him look like a foolish person. He was a well respected and booming artist but when legal scandals, serial plastic surgeries and erratic public behavior erupted, that turned him into the butt of late-night talk-show jokes and tabloid headlines (Kennedy, 2010). III. The impact that Michael Jackson has on the status quo is complex. Michael Jackson is one of the most well-known persons around the world. He has so many fans that look up to him, both black and white, which influences people that they can go from rags to riches. He has made his music attractive to wide variety of people, and also made himself as a ?different? artist and person outside of music. Since Michael Jackson had so many surgeries to look like a certain way, a lot of other people who look up to him will be influenced by this behavior and they will think that getting plastic surgery are socially accepted. I also think Michael has gotten so many plastic surgeries as a symbol, because he has gone through a lot in his childhood. Works Cited Pareles, J. (2009, June). Tricky Steps From Boy to Superstar. The New York Times, p. A23. Kennedy, R. (2010, February). Michael Jackson. The New York Times. from http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/michael_jackson/index.html Picture: from http://www.gossipcheck.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/michael-jackson-neverland.jpg
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