Why Michael Jackson Denounced ‘Thriller’ and Almost Destroyed Its Video

by Jeremy Spirogis
A child wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants hat holding a copy of Thriller

“Thriller” stays certainly one of Michael Jackson’s hottest songs and music movies — nevertheless, not everybody was a fan. After coping with some backlash to the video, Jackson needed to destroy it. Here’s why the “Thriller” video upset some folks in Jackson’s life — and why he finally didn’t destroy it.

A child wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants hat holding a copy of Thriller
A toddler holding a replica of Thriller | David McNew/Getty Images

How creating ‘Thriller’ was an act of insurrection for Michael Jackson

First, some background. According to Spin, Jackson had some robust non secular beliefs. Jackson was one of the crucial well-known Jehovah’s Witnesses to ever dwell — not that he was at all times within the church’s good standing.

Spin experiences the album Thriller was a little bit of a insurrection towards the attitudes of Jehovah’s Witnesses, because it mentions intercourse, gangs, youngsters conceived out of wedlock, and the occult. The video for “Thriller” particularly upset the group. According to BuzzFeed, they practically excommunicated him because of the video’s use of occult photos. This is very attention-grabbing because the “Thriller” video just isn’t significantly violent or disturbing, even by the requirements of 1980s Hollywood.

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“Thriller”

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How the King of Pop reacted to the backlash

Jackson’s response to the backlash was pointed. He virtually had the footage of “Thriller” destroyed. However, the director of the video — John Landis — hid the canister with the footage in it so Jackson couldn’t discover it. Ultimately, Jackson determined to not destroy the footage — however he nonetheless had damaging issues to say about it. According to The New York Times, Jackson denounced the video in a problem of Awake!, a Jehovah’s Witnesses publication.

”I understand now it was not a good suggestion,” Jackson mentioned. ”I’ll by no means do a video like that once more. There’s been all types of promotional stuff being produced on ‘Thriller,’ however I inform them, ‘No, No, No.’ I don’t wish to do something on ‘Thriller.’ No extra ‘Thriller.”’

Michael Jackson holding a microphoneMichael Jackson holding a microphone
Michael Jackson | Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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According to Rolling Stone, if you happen to watch the “Thriller” video today, you’re watching a barely modified model of it created in response to the Jehovah’s Witnesses controversy. The video now has the disclaimer “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.” Those private convictions wouldn’t final endlessly.

When Michael Jackson left the Jehovah’s Witnesses

“Thriller” remained a part of Jackson’s life however the Jehovah’s Witnesses wouldn’t. The Los Angeles Times experiences Jackson left the group in 1987. The Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t give a motive for his departure. Neither Jackson nor his supervisor, Frank Dileo, have been prepared to debate the matter. 

Michael Jackson wearing a hatMichael Jackson wearing a hat
Michael Jackson | Kevin Mazur/WireImage

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Following Jackson’s resolution to depart the Jehovah’s Witnesses, occult imagery turned a part of his work once more. His music “Ghosts” is stuffed with such imagery. Its music video options quite a few horror parts, from creatures of the night time to references to Frankenstein to a screenplay by none aside from Stephen King. It’s not clear if Jackson would have made such a video if he remained a Jehovah’s Witness. After all, Jackson’s occult impressed work stays well-liked –no matter how the Jehovah’s Witnesses reacted to it.

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