The Unbearable Likeness of Michael Jackson
by Jean-Paul Bavard
(Audiotape Translated from the French by Daniel Davis)
illustration by Ans
Reclusive Superstar Michael Jackson recently granted a Worldwide Exclusive interview to the Internationally Renowned Rock/Film/Fashion Critic, Jean-Paul Bavard. Meeting at the Superstar singer’s fabulous Neverland Ranch, they discussed such topics as Jackson’s record-shattering career, his new album, his musical influences, and the wild rumors that have dogged his personal life. Here is the transcription of their conversation.
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: I am, of course, deeply honored to have the opportunity to meet with the great, the legendary, Super-Mega Superstar, Michael Jackson.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Thank you.
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: It is, of course, customary in such situations as these for the interviewing personage to make such assertions. But, in this case, I am being incredibly, honestly, 100% sincere when I insist to you that I am acutely, almost painfully honored to be in your very presence.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Oh, you’re so nice, thank you.
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: No, I must thank you for the honor that you have bestowed upon me by agreeing to meet with me here in the Media Room at your fabulous Nevereverland Facility. Thank you so much for this gesture of your deep and profound esteem for me as a writer and critic, and also as a perceptive, honest, open, and caring human being. It is quite generous of you, and it is a gesture that I can safely aver that no other such Mega-Superstar would ever, nor has ever before, offered to any other critic, writer, reporter, or member of the media. Such as myself. So I thank you again for it, as it does mean so much to me as a Renowned Critic of Music, Fashion and Film. It is a classic example of why you are who you are, and perhaps our meeting and discussion here today shall lead to an increased understanding of your generosity and magnanimoussitude by the general public at large, who up until now, perhaps, view you – horribly incorrectly, of course – as a sort of freakishly weird child-molesting insane monkey-lover with a ghoulish plastic death mask for a face. Which is, of course, totally false and misleading and taken out of context and unfair, as will be made totally clear by our candid and frank and revealing discussion here today. By the way, I would like to thank you for your generosity in agreeing to meet with me, and for choosing me alone among all the many brilliante and respected journalists and writers and critics and theorists around the world to bare your soul and deeply confess your darkest, vilest, most repulsive and innermost secrets that you have not yet before revealed.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Uh… what?
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: So, thanks.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Um, okay.
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: When one considers all the many other world-famous Journalist celebrities and TV quizmasters of renown throughout the world, it is truly an awesome tribute to your admiration of me personally that you would select me alone for this World Exclusive Interview. I know that you have before met with the amazingly perceptive Barbara Waters for heart-rendering and tear-jerking televised discussions, and have chatted with the famed music journalistes of such influential and top-selling magazines and periodicals as The New York Times, US Magazine, Popular Mechanics, and Rolling Stone. But this interview shall be different, as I am surely without a doubt the most intellectually-advanced, knowledgeable, perceptive, and well-schooled personage with which you have carried on such a discussion, and, of course, as a result, our meeting here today will probe much deeper and be much more illuminating and informative than any other before that you have ever conducted in any medium. Even for such a Brilliant Genius Artist such as yourself, it must no doubt be quite an intimidating prospect, and it goes without saying that you must be literally paralyzed with fear. But I am here to put your fears to rest. I am nothing if not an eminently fair journaliste and reporter, literally jam-packed with integrity. The fact that you have not merely consented to such a grueling, risk-laden ordeal, but in fact have hand-selected me alone among all journalists in the world is truly a testament to your taste, knowledge, self-confidence, courage, and amazing naivete. Not to mention, of course, yet another impressive accolade and honour for me. For which I thank you.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Actually, my publicist set this up. I’ve never heard of…
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: Ah, modesty! How typical of the truly great Geniuses of our time! Now let us speak of your famous career. Truly all the world is aware of your amazing story. You became a global Mega-Superstar at a young age, as the lead singer of Le Cinq Jacksones, then went on to become a Hyper Super Mega-Superstar in your solo career, topping the charts and selling literally trillions of copies of such fantastically amazing super-smash hit albums as Of the Wall and The Thriller, featuring the sublime number-one Grammy-winning singles “Beating It,” “The Thriller,” “Hume and Nature,” and “Jelley Bean Is Not My Lover.” You have sold more records than anyone else in the history of the universe, and have justifiably declared yourself to be the King of Pop. Yet as the hits continued, so did the wild and amazing rumors about your private life: Your extensive plastic surgery, sleeping in an oxygen tent, carousing with such amazing young child stars as Emmanuel Lewis, Macauley Culkin, and Bubbles the Chimp, your brief marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, the burning of your hair in a bizarre voodoo ritual during the filming of a commercial for Pepsicola, your clandestine affair with Washington, DC intern Monica Lewinsky, and, of course, the incredible and inimitable manner in which you have transformed yourself from a young Black child to a middle-aged white woman in 30 short years.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Those awful rumors are all nonsense! Well, actually, I’ve never admitted it in public before, but one of those rumors is true, the one about…
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: And that brings us to your highly anticipated new album Invisible, your first new album in almost 20 years, your first release since your legendary album The Thriller!
MICHAEL JACKSON: What? No, I’ve made several albums since…
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: That’s a great story. Even so, it seems indisputable that so much has changed in music in that time, yet so much has stayed the same. Truly, you cannot argue with that assertion, however determined to do so you may be! I defy you to do so! Prove me wrong, I challenge you! Ah, you cannot! I win once again! Yet, I must admit that the converse is also true: That everything in music is now completely new and different than it has ever been before. What impact have the influential new superstars of the burgeoning Duluth Neo-Trance Metal/Ska-Twang scene such as The Comely Widows, The Rogaine Collective, and Check 1-2 had upon your own music? Have you found yourself listening to them non-stop for days at a time, secretly stealing their riffs and lyrics and passing them off as your own? Or is it just Matchbox 20 that does that?
MICHAEL JACKSON: What? Duluth?
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: Or perhaps you are more of a traditionalist, favoring the vastly influential leaders of the Post-Avant Hip-Bebop/Folk-core genre, such brilliant new acts as You’re Soaking In It, Coping Mechanism, or Madison Square Wisconsin? Surely, the Boise-based hitmakers known as Earache Incorporated have influenced you with their phenomenal debut album, Hate Crimes in the Key of G. Their first single from that album, entitled “Get Your Ponytail Out of My Beer,” has influenced Western popular music more than any one single individual or group of the past one thousand years. Truly amazing for an album released last Wednesday that has sold less than 100 copies, but that is, of course, the way of the music industry. Your own recent album has sold even more copies than that, but amazingly, is somehow not yet played continuously and simultaneously on every single radio station in the country. How can you account for such a bizarre and inexplicable occurrence? Personally, I blame the Left Wing media bias that pervades the United States. Or is it instead nothing more than rank sexism?
MICHAEL JACKSON: What!?
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: Of course, you cannot answer such a direct question, but your silence is very revealing, telling us perhaps much more about your personal life than any of us ever wanted to know. Let us move on. Tell us all about your new CD. How much does it weigh? Surely the new release by a Super Mega Hyper Superstar such as yourself must have significantly more heft and mass than those released by other, lesser artistes.
MICHAEL JACKSON: No, it’s just like…
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: Or perhaps it is made from some newly created alloy, a combination of gold, platinum, and titanium, perhaps called Michaeljacksanium, after you. Or does your fantabulous new release have a unique and wonderful odor, like garlic, roses, and lemons in a new car? Or is it merely several times larger than all other CDs ever before released?
MICHAEL JACKSON: It’s just a regular CD! It’s no different…
JEAN-PAUL BAVARD: Ah, of course! What a splendidly clever marketing decision! This is yet another example of the unique and rare genius of the King of Pop! No one expected such brilliantly mediocre simplicity from the new release of Michael Jackson! You have caught us all napping once again with a cleverly simple stroke of genius! Not to change le sujet of our wonderfully candid and revealing discussion, but I notice that you seem to be repeatedly pressing a large red button on your desk. Is this a new sort of relaxation technique preferred by genius Hyper Mega Superstars? Or is it perhaps something…
(Crashing noises, grunts and yelling)
What is the meaning of this! Who are these burly uniformed men! Unhand me! I demand that you stop hitting me at once! Put down that tape recorder now! Don’t you know who I am? I am a world famous journalist! Ow! Stop it, or I’ll…
(More crashing noises. Tape ends.)