“Michael Jackson was a gem of the universe…we took for granted what he had to say in his message, and it will hit us hard when the time comes”-Cameron Fulgenzi
As I mentioned in the previous post, this semester brought an avalanche of particularly thoughtful essays on “Earth Song.” There were so many, in fact, that I will have to split this section of the post over two parts to include them all. I hope everyone enjoys these as much as I enjoyed initially reading, grading, and commenting on them.
“What Comes to Mind When You Hear ‘Michael Jackson’?” by Jon Greene
What comes to mind when you hear “Michael Jackson”? Is it the iconic dance moves that inspired so many pop artists of this current age to incorporate dancing into their live shows? Is it his spontaneous and audacious behavior that always had people of all ages at the edge of their seat in anticipation for breaking news about him? Maybe when you hear his name you just think of another fast lived celebrity that kicked the bucked too soon. I think back to when I was a child with little opinion on anything relevant to society. No opinion on music or how it can affect peoples’ lives. No opinion of how a life should be spent or what it even meant to truly live. I think back to all the times I would see him on T.V., with each week came a new story about Michael. I grew up to know Michael as more of a leader or pioneer of a movement than a talented pop star. Michael Jackson used his fame and status that he gained through music as a pedestal to lead a movement of change. In his moving music video, “The Earth Song”, Michael exposes the social and environmental problems of his generation.
Michael Jackson understood very well that he could have an impact on other peoples’ lives through his music. A multi millionaire celebrity, Michael used his popularity as leverage to get things done that were being overlooked. His music was the megaphone that was used to get peoples attention in an unproductive society. When his songs weren’t enough to get the attention of listeners all around the world Michael used his music videos. Music videos such as “The Earth Song” were the explicit blueprint to his outreach for society. “Earth Song would become the most successful environmental anthem ever recorded (Vogel, 5)”. They were the graphic doctrine being displayed for what he believed in, for what he was passionate about. Michael is the archetypal hero, using his talents and gifts for the benefit of others. He used his obligatory publicity and directing all the attention to greater issues. It seemed that Michael had it all figured out. Be famous enough to make a difference.
His music was the middleman between his aspirations for change and the reality of them coming true. Michael gained nothing except more publicity from using his music videos to raise awareness for social and environmental issues. Publicity that he could easily get from making music that didn’t raise such great emotion. This is proof that he used his talent solely to benefit others. He seemed to always realize the importance of the society and the direction it was headed in, but never forgot the important role of the individual within the society.
Michael uses open-ended provocative questions in “The Earth Song” to address overlooked environmental issues. This was Michael’s style. He was never clear about what he wanted the reader to get out of his artwork. He would use dances that seemed meaningless to the naked eye. However if each individual dance move was broken down into context and style there is a very strong message behind it. In the case of “The Earth Song”, Michael addresses issues through his questions. Questions are ambiguous and allow the listener to project their own feelings and emotions into the song. They require the listener to search for more within themselves in order to understand what Michael is talking about. Throughout the first verse of the song Michael is asking what happened to the beauty of creation. He is implying that creation as a whole has lost its innocence because man has turned it into something it was never supposed to be. If he had simply stated that the earth was not in good shape the listener would not have the privilege of being introspective. In the second verse there is even some hint of anger at God. Michael asks what happened to the peace that was promised through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is reason to believe that the second verse is Michael calling out God for letting the earth get to its corrupting state. In the third verse Michael goes back to talking about how far the earth is from where it is supposed to be. He implies that it is our own negligence towards the earth that has led to the state it is in now. Michael uses “The Earth Song” to voice a dire need for change in the world.
Michael lived passionately. Towards the end of his career he began to use his music as a mirror that reflected the state of his society and environment. All of his aspirations for change within his society were made possible through his popularity within the music industry. He used his stature as a gateway to reach a bigger audience of people. In “The Earth Song” he voices his cry for environmental change by using the ambiguity of a question in order to direct the listeners to issues they have been over-looking. Society had over-looked the fact that the earth is far from what it was created to be. It was no longer a plentiful and natural creation but a breeding ground for all sorts of manmade wealth. Michael addresses these issues in in his song. He created awareness for the state of the world simply by addressing its issues through great music.
“Earth Song” by Logan Carter
One of the impression felt while listening to and or read what other critics have to say is that “Earth Song” has a very broad spectrum of ideas on how to decipher what Michael Jackson wanted to convey in this song. Feelings of doubt were prevalent upon listening to the song while following the lyrics. What could I possible propose that would convey and help other reads come across to their own understanding, whether complete or semi-partial, of the intentions this song has on changing the world itself? The German Enigma came to mind, how difficulty it was to break the code, how much of an advantage we had, and the undeniable effects it had on winning the war for freedom. Hopefully the reader will come out understanding a little more about “Earth Song” upon terminating this article.
Due to the connect felt between Earth and Western Deity there is a strong apparent connection with the way that most westerns view the importance of protecting the Earth and how it can relate to this song. Jackson had somewhat of a spiritual relationship to this song and was evident with the following statement, “It starts with us, it’s us. Or it will never be done,” “Earth Song” is rooted in the fervent jeremiads and apocalyptic passion of the Bible… Jackson wasn’t content to simply wait for God to fix the world…,” (Vogel 26). As someone who enjoys the outdoors and prefers spending days out hiking rather than a weekend wasted sitting on the couch, I have always felt a strong spiritual connection as I have gazed upon the wonders of the Earth and pondered the diversity of creation, and the idea of lucrative gain at the expense of what someone holds onto for life and prosperity is unjust to the utmost degree.
Jackson true catches lamentation not only in the lyrics but in the portrayal in the music video shows just how strongly and simultaneously devastated the people were of the region in which that occupied. The collective group coming together in the video though separated by region and digging into the Earth and to feel it as it falls through their hands as if they are expressing their own hopeless to have change. As part of the Jewish culture, someone who shows great lament as an outward sign of pain takes dirt or ash and sprinkles it on the head. This has some reference to what was portrayed in the video, although the earth was not placed upon their heads that same feeling of anguish can be seen. Along with the blatant visual aspects show for lamentation, the lyrics pose their own weight in showing strong feeling, “This crying Earth, those weeping shore,” and then it continues further with sounds of lament and strife “Aaaaaaah, Ooooooh,” to convey to the listener feelings that propose what the Earth might be feeling. At the time of the death of Christ according to the Bible, the Earth suffered spiritually as well, the graves yielded up their dead, mountains fell into the sea, cities were engulfed by water, and the period of darkness.
One of the greatest follies of the human race is the tendency we have to forget; sometimes it can be blamed of the direct result of selfish pursuit of achievements or endeavors, or just the nature habit that we have to forget small things that once had or continually has an impact on the way we view things. The lyrics that repeat “Do you ever stop to notice,” are repeated four times and are implied in other parts of the song. Jackson places the call out to notice what is going on the in world. The day after Michael Jackson had passed away the Waxman-Markey bill was being prepared to be taken to the U.S. House for a ratifying vote. The start of legislation that would become a historic turn for climate control (Pasternack).
Michael Jackson undoubtedly had an undying passion for what he viewed as right and was never afraid to express those feelings at the expense of his own personal reputation. Watching other video that he has produced and the lyrics he has written are a testament to a man who truly was his best self always. There is a special connection felt while watching any of his videos and is most likely the strongest attribute to his vast fan base whom to this day continue to listen and are changed by the words he sang.
Symbolism of Dirt in “Earth Song” by Robert Baugh
Earth Song is more than a song or a performance, it is a simple message, an educationally song that depicts what the world may come to without change. Dirt is a pure form of Earth, hands are the character of Earth. Humans have lost their identity and their inheritance. The song describes that the world is near ending and human actions have caused much destruction. Michael moved many people through his music, but this song was different, it was a powerful movement and an understanding that if something does not change, the world may self-destruct.
I believe that Michael meant for this song to be a great moving message to the world. He wanted people to know that, his success and his power was not above presenting the world as it should be. Michael has great intentions and carried most of them out in a wonderful way but the media did not want people to fully understand Michael they portrayed him as a monster. Michael had a boundless love for the world and he knew that world was precious and a true gift. Michael wanted people to understand the Earth as one of them.
The dirt is a pure form of mother Earth, one single gain of dirt has a unique identity that symbolizes the untainted soil. We has humans have destroy millions of acres of rich soil to pollute, to profit and to seize power. What Michael meant is that the world can only handle so much destruction in one cycle. The dirt passing through the crack in the hands mean the Earth is falling before our eyes and there is no stopping it. The Earth is so enormous that humans cannot fully comprehend the size or the importance of every gain of dirt. In our eyes if a small amount is still bountiful then the world can live but that’s not the case.
Humans have made countless amounts of brilliant achievements, form the great pyramids to the empire state building. With all this success comes devastating consequences to the environment. Such as over planting, smog for industrial purposes, slash and burn techniques and destruction of magnificent mountains. All for the glory of human beings. Yes, we can be great in all ways but incite of our dreams we destroy beautiful mother Earth. Michael did an outstanding job describing the abuse we as humans have put on the world. The hand in Earth Song depict the hard work humans have put into the Earth, but still come up short every day. Hard work is all measured in completeness, the video shows the people’s hands can only hold so much. That leads us to believe that Michael was portraying the idea of how big the world really is.
The human race has become too involved within the world, is what Michael was symbolizing. The Earth needs its space away from human madness. Just as people need alone time, the Earth does as well. If humans do not let the Earth vent, many religions and voodoo people believe that the Earth will untimely self-medicate itself through violent storms, just as the video portrayed.
The individuals that held the dirt, were the ones looking in from the outside, like a higher power of some sort. It was as if a power message to the world, the human hand has caused so much stressed and devastation to the world. At one point it has to start fighting back, the natural way the Earth fights back is destroying the hand that caused the damage. Just as anything that ever happens, what goes around comes back around and Michael hit the nail on the head with this song.
Michael Jackson’s Spiritual Crisis Portrayed in “Earth Song” by Sidney McDavid
“Earth Song” is one of the most politically and representatively sincere songs produced by Michael Jackson, and still today is a true sentiment to the religious conviction he was facing when writing it. As much as he went through with racism, and all of the unrelated allegations everyone made against him, it was only a matter of time before he stopped fighting back and became emotional. His change from leaving the Jehovah’s Witness was the tipping stone for him and he had to find a way to express it in a way that maybe people would not just understand, but appreciate and recognize the genuineness of Jackson and his attempts to make the world a better place. When he wrote “Earth Song” he really proved that this world, and people can only take so much destructive criticism before it all comes crashing down. Society has long seen piteous songs as well as ones about dissent but this song was much more meaningful and symbolic than originally understood. (Vogel)
In the very beginning of “Earth Song” Jackson sings some soft verses asking questions about the simple beauties that we take for granted. As the video progresses there is a native American family that watches a tree fall because of the weather or logging efforts, and a family of color that stands in despair at a deceased elephant and it’s child. One of the children looking at the elephants starts to veer into his imagination and he envisions a tribe of elephants roaming through the little valley, this is such a heartbreaking scene to see someone so young go through the pain of seeing life deteriorate in front of their eyes. Jackson really sets the tone for the rest of the song here because he cuts straight to the hearts of the listeners by using himself and the painful expressions on the children’s faces as well as his own. He really presses through the despair he is in, he feels so lost and betrayed by not only the people around him and society but he also feels like he aided to the destruction as well and he’s questioning some higher being, or maybe addressing the human kind, as to why things are turning out the opposite from what he was told before.
One of the lines in “Earth Song” is “What have we’ve done to the world, look what we’ve done”, this is very symbolic in the way that Jackson isn’t just blaming everyone else for what they have done to break him down, but also what he did to provoke it, or let them do it. He’s not just blaming the rest of the world for his problems, he’s taking responsibility for what he has contributed to that has harmed himself as well as the Earth itself. Another line that sticks out to me is when he sings “I used to dream, I used to glance beyond the stars, now I don’t know where we are, although I know we’ve drifted far”. In that line he’s showing weakness and the guilt he feels for betraying his mother and the Jehovah’s Witness religion. He knows that it isn’t what he wants to participate in anymore, but he also doesn’t know where he is, or where he is going to go. He just feels weak, lost, and afraid. I think by this point he knows that he is too far gone to go back, not that he wanted to, and that he cannot seem to find peace in anything or anyone, he’s just morose and sorrowful.
Jackson’s emotional outpouring in this song comes not only with the feeling of failure for himself, but with the feeling that he could have done something about it if there were others on board with him, and there were not promised the moon and stars from childhood. A lot of the beginning of the song is asking what about this, and what about that, as if he is just now figuring out that life isn’t as grand and splendid as it seemed in the younger days. Today most people find that life is tough at an early age, but why did it take so long for Jackson to give up on the dream of such a wonderful society and environment? Or is “Earth Song” more than just a cry of help and maybe the Earth and its inhabitants really are coming to a crashing halt and Jackson was the first to see it, and voice it?
When Jackson wrote this song he was going through so many trials and tribulations that he felt the need to create something bigger than his problems. In one of his live performances, he directed emotional illustrations at so many social stereotypes and in one part, that hits really close to home for a lot of American widows and veterans, he triggers a matter that is very controversial and sensitive. There is a soldier, ready for battle and holding his gun (pointed at Jackson), and after an exchange of looks between the two the soldier slowly bends down, puts his gun down and breaks into tears. At this instant Jackson is depicting that for his whole life he has been defending himself from those attacking him and their malicious tactics are much stronger and powerful than his defense strategies, he is confessing his visions of an earth where everyone finally erases hatred from their lives and moves to a more forgiving and peaceful society. (Murphey)
Towards the end of the official music video for “Earth Song” everyone has hit their knees wherever they are and they’re digging their hands into the dirt, sand, soil, or whatever is beneath them and just kind of giving off the physical motive that they have nothing left to fight. This symbolic moment illustrates hitting rock bottom so to speak. Whether it be Jackson himself or mankind as a whole just completely letting go and just giving up. As they’re all scooping their hands through the soil a storm starts to abrupt and it kind of brings relief to the people’s faces, you can see it in their eyes and smiles, they just look thankful to see something change. As the storm continues the trees reroot, the animals come back to life and humankind is so calmed and gratified by what is happening in front of them. After the storm the sun shines and everything just looks normal and peaceful. Jackson here is really putting himself into the illustration being that his last few years in his own personal life seemed like he had been giving everything and trying so hard to make himself happy as well as his fans and family, he had battled with societies vicious attacks, both physical and emotional, and his religious debacle. When the storm calms and the Earth is once again a beautiful place is left open for interpretation. Maybe Heaven, or maybe the coming of a new era in which everyone is free and peace is abundant. Life for Jackson was surely to improve with the toll that this song would take on people, that’s what was portrayed at least, and fittingly “Earth Song” was the last song he performed. Michael Jackson was a true inspiration through this song and it really laid out a foundation for people to build upon so that they may see him in a different light, and respect him with the gratitude he deserved.
Earth Song: Video Analysis by Reed DeJesus
One of the major themes in Michael Jackson’s music video “Earth Song” is that the human race is harming the environment. The extent to which the Earth is being harmed is very extreme and Michael Jackson wanted it to be apparent to all listeners and viewers. Michael was very much an environmentalist and he deeply cared for nature so he wanted to get his message across to all listeners and viewers. “The message was clear: we are the world indeed, and we need to take care of it accordingly” (Pasternack). This song and music video has many underlying themes and symbols but the human race destroying the earth is the most important.
There are many elements in the music video “Earth Song” that exemplify the theme of humans destroying the Earth. The first one is the deforestation in the beginning of the video and the fires that run rampant after the forests are cleared. The people who are native to the land are forced to watch in horror as the people in the bulldozers take their home away from them with no remorse.
The aftermath of the war in the music video “Earth Song” also relates to the theme in the same way as the deforestation. Many people have lost their homes and all their belongings because of mankind. Humans are killing each other and destroying entire cities leaving nothing to stand causing great sorrow to those affected.
The third element in Michael Jackson’s music video “Earth Song” that exemplifies the theme is the animal cruelty. Poachers kill elephants and leave there dead bodies lying on the ground with their tusks removed. They are driven by greed because ivory is very valuable and they know they can make a quick profit. Dolphins are shown being trapped in fishnets which leads viewers to feel Michael Jacksons pain about the subject of animal cruelty. The most violent scene in the music video that displays animal cruelty is when the hunter is swinging a giant axe at a helpless seal.
Pollution is the final element seen in the music video “Earth Song” that shows how destructive mankind can be. Giant smoke stacks are shown releasing poisonous gases into the atmosphere. These gases are the cause of global warming during the time this video was released scientist were just reaching the tip of the iceberg on the causes and effects of global warming.
At the end of the music video “Earth Song” the wind begins to blow rapidly and it begins to storm across the whole entire world. This storm is a symbol for mother earth trying to cleanse itself from all the harm mankind has done. Time goes in reverse and animals come back to life and the forest is whole again and the fires are gone. This is Michael’s way of showing that we can reverse what is happening to earth but we have to make a difference. The human race as whole has to take a stand and stop doing the destructive things that are slowly destroying earth.
‘The Earth Song’ by Michael Jackson Pamela Rodriguez-Pina
The world as we know it has always been based on war. We can go back thousands of years, and war will be the main thing that we have going on. It is not a matter of why we are in war, or when will it end, but it is a matter of opening each other’s eyes on this subject. Michael Jackson sings about problems in today’s world that have been problems for ages in his song ‘The Earth Song’. He varies from the most crucial devastations us humans have been making, from deforestation, war, and global economical problems. War is not about who is winning what, but how much hatred humans have, greed, and lack of knowledge around the subject.
Everyone knows how much Michael loved to love, and he was not shy about expressing it through the public eye. War will always be a problem and soldiers feel the need to express it by defending their country; however, if we show our politicians that we do not need to hate our neighboring countries due to oil, money, or the need to be the most powerful country in the world then we would not be in war. Of course, ideally, the world without war would be too perfect and we can only dream of such a place. In one of Michael Jackson’s live performances of ‘The Earth Song’, he ends his song by a military tank coming out on stage and the soldier pointing the gun at Michael. Michael then gently pushes the gun down. The soldier than weeps and a little girl shows affection towards him. What Michael wanted people to realize is that we cannot get anywhere with war, and we must teach each other how to love.
In Michael Jacksons, ‘The Earth Song’, he says ‘it is us’ who must make the change. (Vogel 27) We have dug our Earth into ruins. God cannot save us we must save ourselves. We have to realize what we have done to our lovely Earth, and repair it. In the music video, Michael shows soldiers in another country walking around a ruined town. We can see that the people who live there are terrified and live in ruins and fear. War is not just based on hate but also on greed. Greed to become the richest and have the most of everything. Our politicians have become so engraved of wanting the most of everything because when you have everything then you do are the most powerful country. Greed is a sin. It does not get you anywhere except with everything you want or with absolutely nothing. Money has always been the root of all evil. Happiness does not come from war or money; it comes with generosity and kindness. Michael truly believed that love could conquer all and he showed it in his performance of the soldier on stage.
We can go back to the 19th century and war was a problem. Absolutely nothing has changed because no one cares to open this to the public eye. Everyone listens to the radio, and society makes people cheer on for whatever is playing behind the radio. Michael did an excellent job on doing so. Joseph Vogel explicitly says, “Earth Song would become the most successful environmental anthem ever recorded, topping the charts in over fifteen countries and eventually selling over ten million copies.” in his book ‘Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus’. (5) Michael truly reached out to his fans to inform them on this crucial problem that has been going on for centuries. Nowadays, we have so many artist that waste their talent and sing about sex, drugs, and money. Michael shared his beliefs on economical issues, war, world hunger, and many more causes that need to be exploited to the world.
Michael Jackson was one of the most influential people in our world. In his music video of ‘Earth Song’ he speaks and visibly shows us that we still have problems in our world. War has always been a crucial part of American history; however, killing towns and scaring innocent people can do nothing but harm. We must show our people that we can put the guns down and teach each other how to love just like Michael showed the soldier that it was okay to put the gun down and love everyone around him. We can support each other like the town people and the little girl supported the soldier on stage. War is all about greed, the want to become the most powerful country in the world, and hatred against others; we can change each factor about what war is all about through love, support, and acceptance.
“Earth Song” by Sarah Desaro
Songs can send a very strong message. Many artists turn towards music to send their messages to reach all ages. Many issues that cannot easily be said out loud, can easily be put in lyrics of a song. Music has always been a very popular way to express issues or ideas. Michael Jackson, like many other artists used music to raise awareness. His song “Earth Song” was a very moving music video and song. The music video holds theme and symbolism in every scene. Michael Jackson also used the music video to bring awareness to many environmental issues as well as moral issues.
In the music video Michael Jackson has meaning for everything. Whether it be the setting he has chosen or the lyrics he has created. Jackson seems to focus on the environment. The video begins with the beautiful sun shining through a forest, earth’s most natural setting. Then a bulldozer is shown destroying the forest, then fire and destruction set the scene. A forest is not man made it was here before civilization, the most natural place. This scene of destruction shows our human destructive power. Showing forests and fields destroyed and brought down is also a site of war. War where humans kill animals and ruin land and nature to gain personal wealth, to expand to take from what is not ours. This destruction is our own. We take the forests and fields to build our cities and expand our neighborhoods, but what we do not realize is that we are taking the homes of animals as well. We take native peoples homes, the people who have lived there for their whole lives and we just take their land. People complain about how other cultures need to blend with ours and how animals are coming out in the open and roaming our neighborhoods, but we have taken their homes from them. Jackson used his gift and music to reach out to his fans, to bring light on the destruction of nature. As stated by Alex Pasternack of Living Culture, “This song was pop music’s biggest environmental song and probably the first ecological eye-opener for millions of young fans.” We are the earth’s destruction.
In the music video with all the destruction and death, there are still people left who considered that their home. They are left to look around at all the destruction and death of the animals that used to roam the land. Jackson points out that even when we have come through with our machines and bulldozers, that there is still life left. Showing the natives who have lived there much longer, shows that we have taken a land that is not ours to take. Brings to more modern times when it shows a family walking through their town to find their home destroyed. Their home and town destroyed by war that humans create. As shown in the video many of the people whose homes were destroyed reminisce on what it was. Many of the characters across the globe are shown, scooping their home land dirt in their hands while on their knees in a pleading motion. This scene is a very symbolic part of the music video, as if pleading why; also as asking forgiveness from the land. Praying to the land and environment as if saying, sorry for what has happened to you, sorry for what us humans have done. Also, they might be praying for a new beginning or another chance.
Once the destruction is done to the land and everything is gone a storm comes. After all their pleading and praying it is as if God grants them a storm, to put back and bring back all the life and beauty. It shows the forest that was being cut down all the trees being restored and brought back to life. The African animals brought back to roam the land as they did before, the life of an elephant when humans came to take its tusks for wealth and personal gain. It shows the Amazon peoples’ environment being restored as well, as if God is giving the Earth another chance. In the more modern issue, the storm with its wind pushes the army men out of the town that was destroyed. As if God has given nature a voice and a chance to restore, taken back, and pushed out the destruction. The storm symbolizes a new beginning.
Michael Jackson was an incredible artist and his work lives on today. He brought light to issues many were afraid of even talking about. He used his music to reach people and send a message that would impact every age whether it be elderly, young, teen, or adult. His song “Earth Song” was one of the first ever songs and music videos to focus on preserving our world and Earth’s resources.
“Earth Song”: A Cry for Help by Michelle Heatherly
Michael Jackson is the spokesperson for the whole world and for all the inhabitants of the earth in the music video “Earth Song.” He personifies Earth by saying “This crying Earth these weeping shores?” The earth is in bad health and something needs to be done. Jackson addresses environmental and moral issues and raises self-awareness.
In the beginning of “Earth Song” the music is very tranquil and meditative. This is thoughtfully done so that people would stop and reflect upon themselves and the things they do. Jackson addresses both God and mankind about the condition of Earth. Bassill states that “Jackson confronts us in Earth Song with the great damage the Erysichthons of the world have done.” (38-39).
Bassill clarifies the background of Erysicthon by stating:
In the legends of ancient Greece there are tales of punishment for those who reject being earth’s loving children and instead become earth’s destroyers. In one tale, a wealthy man cuts down the trees in a grove sacred to Demeter, the Earth Mother, in order to build a hall for his feasting. His name is Erysichthon, which means “one who tears up the earth.” Demeter punishes him by giving him an insatiable appetite. He even eats the food intended for his children, and so they starve. In our desire to have a “feast hall” for ourselves, we too are literally starving our children, stripping the nourishing capacity of the planet for profit, destroying ecosystems and species, and hoarding the wealth of the planet for a select few. As Jackson knew so well, thousands of children die of starvation every day. In fact, 25,000 people, including 16,000 children, die of starvation-related illnesses every single day. (38-39)
The sceneries in the “Earth Song” video display the cause and effect of the gluttony and greed that is evident in mankind throughout history. The “killing fields” that leave lands barren and decimated is not limited to a battle field. Mother Nature is also affected; defenseless to the attack on trees by excessive logging and the brutal slaying of animals that never seem to meet human satisfaction. The lyrics are in the form of a question which move the listener by causing self-reflection and thus raising awareness. Jackson feels the pain that has been wrought on mankind and asks why? He asks God specifically when he questions the promises that were made. He feels that God’s son was crucified in vain because peace is definitely not present with all the turmoil that is going on. He is also addressing the population as well when he asks “What have we done to the world?” Jackson is wanting answers not only from God but from the people. Jackson wants to know what is in the human nature that causes people to conquer and destroy the earth instead of treating everything as equal members of the planet. Do humans regard themselves as superior and godlike? There is a strong conflation between God and man
One of the key elements that Jackson uses in the video to draw compassion from listeners is innocence. The pictures of the animals being slaughtered such as the elephant lying in the desert without its tusks. Jackson also reminds people of children who have died because of war. In one scene there is an image of a small broken bicycle, and a father’s memory of when his daughter ran to the bike, but before she gets reaches it, a bright, blinding white light flashes and she isn’t seen again. The man is alive but is reminded of his loss when seeing the broken bicycle. The innocent, helpless animals and children are the affected bystanders. All these questions and problems that Jackson asks about is met by his refrain which isn’t any word but a cry. There are no words to express this pain because it is so deep. Jackson is crying for the world at war within itself.
The most important part of the song is “Do we give a damn?” This is the question that really matters. All the issues that have been brought to light, but does anyone care enough to do something about it? The entire song just builds like a storm and Jackson’s voice is so powerful that if one doesn’t feel moved when listening then that person does not have a soul. It truly shakes the individual to the core and it awakens the spirit. The people falling down grabbing the soil shows regret as they try to hold on to earth. The music builds up and the winds of time start to change during a call and response part of the song. The winds blow back the devastation and soon all is repaired down to the tree connecting to its stump. This is the answer to when Jackson asks “Is there a time?” The time where peace and tranquility exist is shown. The overall video, music, and lyrics work together to create such a masterpiece that is literally mind blowing
Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” by Devonte Fletcher
Michael Jackson’s music video “Earth Song” is more like a visual aide to show the people on this planet what we are doing to the Earth. Not even 30 seconds in and the tone of the whole video changes. There is an immediate shift from a peaceful forest filled with life and animals, to a tractor coming in and plowing down trees. Michael Jackson was always well known for the environmentalist that he was, but with this song, that was taken to a whole new level. “Earth Song” contains a major theme within it that anyone can see, which is the way Jackson incorporates the many environmental changes the Earth endures.
Every year, people are becoming less and less considerate of the planet. Deforestation, war, and pollution are all major problems that have affected earth over time. The video alternates between flashback-like scenes showing what the world was like before people’s harmful ways changed it. Visual evidence is incorporated to give everyone a real feel of what is happening to our world. The chopping down of trees with chainsaws showing deforestation, tanks and huge piles of rubble showing the negatives of war, and all throughout the video black smoke carries through the skies from pollutants. Jackson made this song along with the video to pose as an environmental message. “With the ecological unbalance going on, and a lot of the problems in the environment, I think earth feels the pain, and she has wounds, and it’s about some of the joys of the planet as well. But this is my chance to pretty much let people hear the voice of the planet” (Jackson).
“Earth Song” features a lot of destruction in the video that is present all over the world. Jackson realizes that enough is enough, and that it is time for change. “In the epic music video, scenes of environmental destruction and war are cut with Jackson wandering across a landscape of drought and fire, before he does his yell-through-the-wind thing, undoing all of our ecological damage like magic” (World’s Biggest Environmentalist?). The cry/shriek he releases at the end of the song is resembling of the cry he feels the world is trying to let the world hear. Through his lyrics and this video, he wants to promote ecological change. The heavy machinery, animals, and the colossal storm that comes through and cleans up the Earth are all parts of the major theme, the environment, that Jackson is portraying with this work. “’Earth Song’ is indisputably the most popular green-themed tune ever. It remains Jackson’s best-selling song in the U.K. (yes, bigger than “Thriller” or “Billie Jean”), and beat out the Beatles’ first single in 25 years for the top spot on the British charts. But the song, and its lavish globe-trotting video, barely registered in the U.S. Record executives at Epic apparently didn’t think it had much life stateside. Perhaps the themes of ecological destruction weren’t suited to pop radio in the U.S. market, or the song’s musical approach — gospel, blues and opera — was considered too offbeat for American audiences” (Pasternack) .
Michael Jackson is attempting to show everyone the negative affects our bad habits are having on our planet with this video. Deforestation, war, and pollution have all taken a toll on the Earth. The Earth was crying out and Jackson decided it was time to let that cry be heard by everyone around the world. After “Earth Song” went viral and became wildly successful, especial in the UK, Jackson started to become regarded as the world’s biggest environmentalist. Whether that may be true or not, he did an exceptional job of using visual aides of the environment as a theme for this piece.
Michael Jackson by Cameron Fulgenzi
Michael Jackson was a gem of the universe. Not only did he allow others to relate to his lyrics, being one of the most talented artists in history, Jackson created music that told a story. These stories were in effort to make a movement. He was caring and at the same time, able to visualize the falling apart of the universe. One of Jackson’s most overlooked songs in the United States would have to be “Earth Song”. His compassion for the living and his love for the entire world allowed humans to react and become fans that would, unknowingly, help participate in his worldwide masterpiece. “Earth Song” has very powerful lyrics that follow an extremely well produced music video showing the result of humanity and our devastation to the world.
Michael Jackson remained consistent with his helpful ways and showed the world that color and looks had nothing to do with the inside soul. Living in our world, we are dragged into repetition of believing we each individually have to be the best at everything and see money as our prime living source. To Jackson, although he made millions, he dedicated all of his time outside of show business to helping third world countries that have been devastated by war and starvation. He started the Heal The World Foundation, which lead to thousands of children being helped and put in new shoes to start a new life. Jackson was well known worldwide and when he traveled to these countries, he wasn’t going to perform, he was going to help make a difference.
Michael was raised a Jehovah Witness all of his life. Being a Jehovah, you are taught to believe in a demanding God. One of the commandments was listed to not allow celebration of holidays or birthdays. In the book Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson’s Magnum Opus, Joseph Vogel describes Jackson as a Jehovah Witness. He also describes the purpose of being a witness as such:
“The main purpose of life was to prepare oneself for Armageddon, which Witnesses believed was imminent and futile to try to delay or prevent. The goal, rather, was to become one of the elite righteous members (the 144,000) that would survive and preside over the earth once it was cleansed of wickedness” (Vogel 25).
Because of this life he lived, Jackson never celebrated Christmas until he was an older adult. He was secluded from these celebrations all of his life. When he finally decided to separate himself from being a Witness, we started to really see a new side of Michael. He started to see the world more of our existing paradise instead of looking at the world as being a place that would eventually be paradise. He wanted change! Jackson wasn’t going to simply wait for God to fix the world. “It starts with us,” he insisted. ‘It’s us. Or it will never be done” (Vogel 27). Instead of waiting, he was now ready to take action. With this huge change of feeling during his career, Jackson started with a bang. It was his first Christmas and his newfound holiness that allowed Michael to create the inspiring “Earth Song” which opened his eyes to a new beginning.
The video in general shows epic devastation from deforestation, over fishing, war, pollution, drought, and even hopes of a clean coal industry. The theme of the song has a notable religious significance. The video actually demonstrates themes from the bible. These themes include everything from the creation, prayer, prophecy, and resurrection. Jackson appears as a prophet in the video and even a Christ-like figure in other eyes. We witness man made devastation and then the video begins to take us into a renewal or re-creation of the world. The video does a wonderful job of showing the viewer true footage of actual demolition and the scenes of burning oil fields and falling trees really makes you cringe. I believe the symbolism of the characters that are seen scooping the dirt into their hands in repetition as being a cry for help to the world. They are praying to God to give us back our land or better yet just simply allow us to keep it. Another way of looking at it would be the people grabbing the dirt and feeling the pain and suffering being caused by humans by allowing the dirt to pass through their fingertips. What is our world turning into? This seems to be the main question when watching this video.
Revelations in the bible describes the day when God will recreate the world and flood the land in order to allow a new beginning for his followers. In Jackson’s video, critics describe it as being very similar to Revelations. The dramatic wind, rain, and firestorm behind Michael and the others show the beginning of the devastation, which starts with the end of the world. The clean up is what I refer to it as but also you might think of it as the rebirth.
The lyrics chosen for this song were written by Jackson on purpose to deliver a powerful message to the viewer. He throws questions into the choir asking God, what about this, what about that, and what about us? He also questions humanity; asking what have we done to the world, look what we’ve done (Jackson). If only this song could have been looked at in more seriousness at the time of 1995, I think the world could of been better off in some way if the general population could of at least listened and gave it a try. This was truly Jackson’s song for the Earth! We now struggle tremendously with pollution and global warming that our world is becoming scared to think of what is to come.
Michael Jackson was an entertainer and an environmentalist. He made the difference that no one saw until after his passing. We took for granted what he had to say in his message and it will hit us hard when the time comes. Nothing further as technically been done since then but other people, like Bill Clinton or Al Gore, have attempted to help start the movement. I will say that I have seen a lot more recycling trucks in the past ten years and it will simply be the small changes that will start it all off. We have to work together and learn to listen to others regardless of the color and looks. Jackson was an innovator and somewhat looked at as a prophet. He did what he did best while he could and that was making people smile one day at a time. Unfortunately, the death of Michael Jackson put our world into a sad and devastated state of mind. On the contrary, I do believe his death was a wake up call to our society and without him; we would be in much worse shape today.
A Change in Man by Anna Hafner
Michael Jackson, hours before his untimely death, performed an iconic and eye-opening song. This song was called “Earth Song”. The contrast between the beautiful images of nature, and destructive power of man-kind shows us what we have done. The references to God and the coming of the storm are very symbolic of a “cleansing” of the earth. Jackson had a very powerful message in his lyrics, some say it was strictly about his confusion with his own beliefs, others think that it was a message to the world. A message of pleading for peaceful days, and less death worldwide over man made issues. Joe Vogel summed it up perfectly in my opinion in his book about Jackson, “‘Earth Song would become the most successful environmental anthem ever recorded, topping the charts in over fifteen countries and eventually selling over ten million copies. Yet critics never quite knew what to make of it. Its unusual fusion of opera, rock, gospel, and blues sounded like nothing on the radio. It defied almost every expectation of a traditional anthem. In place of nationalism, it envisioned a world without division or hierarchy. In place of religious dogma or humanism, it yearned for a broader vision of ecological balance and harmony. In place of simplistic propaganda for a cause, it was a genuine artistic expression. In place of a jingly chorus that could be plastered on a T-shirt or billboard, it offered a wordless, universal cry.” (pg. 5 Vogel)
In Jackson’s video for “Earth Song”, in the beginning a lot of beautiful images are shown of nature. But as the video progresses, it shows us that the destructive power of man-kind has destroyed this for us. The world takes on a colder, more industrialized agenda and no longer cares for what sustains us as human beings. The stanza “What about killing fields?” is referring to an act that is completely man made. It could relate to a battlefield filled with death, a deforestation project killing millions of trees and animal habitats, or a poverty filled country with no resources for decent survival.
Another aspect of “Earth Song” was the connection to God. Jackson seemed to point all of his questions to God. He is pleading with God to know why so many bad things happen to this world, and why we possess such a destructive nature if he is supposed to give us peace and love for one another. A true theodicy and really a lament as well. The lyrics are a cry of sorrow for this world and what is happening in it. I believe that Jackson couldn’t even fathom why all this was happening. The wars, the killing of our environment, the killing of innocent people in the name of war or religion. Jackson was going through some type of spiritual change, he really did not know if what he had believed his whole life (being a Jehovah’s Witness) was how it was supposed to be. So I think that Earth song was a somewhat “cleansing” of himself as well. In his live performance, he brings out a soldier with a gun, but then a young child comes to give this soldier a sense of forgiveness. This is what I think his “cleansing” has led to. That no matter what you believe in, there will always be forgiveness there for you if you are willing to accept it.
The biggest aspect in this song is the coming of the storm, and the many people with their hands in the dirt. The act of praying is brought to mind when I saw all of these people rubbing their hands in the dirt. They are desperately praying for the world they had. The growing trees, the clean water, the peace between man-kind. All of this was what Jackson wanted to share with the world. He wanted to show them that what we were doing, was not going to have a good outcome. Going back to the focus on God, I think it also had a self-centered approach as well. Jackson was trying to tell us as well, that everything we were doing was wrong. That it was killing the world we lived in. This is where the coming of the storm comes in. This storm that comes through is not just another summer shower, it is the world cleansing itself. It is sweeping away all of the bad, destructive, and debilitating aspects of our earth and bringing back the beauty in it. It is bringing back what we need to survive, and thrive on.
Jackson asks the question of if we have time. If we have time to change the things that we have done. He brings up the possibility that we didn’t even a time of complete peace, that this destructive nature was just simply in our nature. A line that I specifically favor is “Do we give a damn.” This is the overall question. Even if we are aware of the issues around us, do we care? Are we doing anything to prevent them? I think that was the whole point of releasing this song. He wanted to show the world what we were doing to the land that we were sustained by. This world is what is keeping us alive, so to destroy it the way we are, it’s terrible.
All in all, “Earth Song’ is very eye-opening. The video encompasses a lot of real world problems we have now, even more so now than back then. It is a plea for change, to know why all of these bad things are happening. Some people think it was strictly to God that he was asking those questions to, some believe it was straight to the people of the world. Honestly, I believe that it was both. Jackson had his own belief system, and he tried to follow that, wholeheartedly. But, because of all these terrible things happening throughout the world, it gave him his doubt. I think that for this to be Jackson’s last performance, it fits pretty well.