On the DANGEROUS album cover by Michael Jackson, a snake seems to be swallowing us with its mouth wide open.
The snake shows its poisonous fangs. In the snake’s mouth, you can see the machinery behind the colorful circus facade of entertainment. This looks DANGEROUS.
A snake is dangerous, it symbolizes falsehood and deceitfulness. The snake, as the Bible teaches us, is seductive and feminine and is responsible for us being thrown out of paradise at the beginning of humanity.
On the 1991 Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS album cover, we are eaten alive by the snake. Jackson, who spent his entire life in the industry of entertainment business, had already sung about it in 1985.
Already three years earlier in 1988, Michael Jackson was devoured before our eyes. He showed us these images in that short film in which he addressed the tabloid press.
Jackson’s ride in that film led straight into the darkness of a gigantic, greedy mouth, its flapping jaws working like a machine in the depths of hell.
In 1991, that same voracious mouth is back on DANGEROUS.
The snake in the career of Michael Jackson
DANGEROUS is the last song on Michael Jackson’s 1991 album of the same title.
In DANGEROUS, Michael Jackson sings about a girl, a woman who is „bad“ (coincidentally the name of his previous album from 1986) and who is „dangerous“ (coincidentally the name of the album to which the song gave its name).
In DANGEROUS, the song begins with a powerful machinery that picks up speed at the beginning of a new Jackson era, painting the picture of a plane taking off. In fact, an airplane was also used by Michael Jackson as a symbol of his career.
In DANGEROUS, Jackson paints musical pictures of pinstriped suits in 1940s black and white cinema. In the husky whispery voice of the undercover underdog, he conjures up this lonely Humphrey Bogart type who tells his audience the story of this equally seductive and deceitful woman he couldn’t resist.
But when Jackson performs the song on stage, there is no trace of a hot affair. What he in his art puts into the spotlight is sinister business. Anonymous business suits circle around him, the star and King of Pop. These images hint at the „system“ that Jackson has repeatedly criticized. The „system“ is the industry behind the seductive facade of entertainment.
They all have blood on their hands.
Jackson’s DANGEROUS performance during the HIStory Worldtour, Munich, Olympiastadium, 1997 source
Is there a snake hissing in the „Dangeroussss…“ song by Michael Jackson?
There seems to be a snake hissing in Jackson’s song DANGEROUS and it sounds like several tracks of his voice are producing this effect. Once you are aware of the hissing in the song, you seem to be surrounded by it out of every loudspeaker.
Never-ending repetitions have an almost hypnotic effect. And suddenly one feels surrounded like Jackson by more than one snake and the same hissing falseness. Maybe overinterpreted. Maybe it’s meant to be.
Jackson opens with the hiss of the snake the song DIRTY DIANA in 1987.
With the hiss of a snake, Jackson introduced DIRTY DIANA to the audience in 1987. In DIRTY DIANA, Jackson again makes the seduction to „Fortune and Fame“ the central theme. DIRTY DIANA also tells of betrayal, of backstabbing, falsehood and treachery. The setting of Jackson’s narrative is the show business. Jackson made the hissing of the snake the first sound in the song. 2
Is Jackson seduced by the snake in MORPHINE from 1997? „Trusssst in me …“
„Trusssst in me. Trusssst in me. Put all you’re trust in me …“Michael Jackson in MORPHINE, 1997. 3
Jackson seductively purrs these lines in 1997 in the song MORPHINE. MORPHINE is Jackson’s frenzy about trust, betrayal. And dependency. His fury about his addiction. His rage about our addiction. 4 Our addiction to tabloid headlines. An addiction that we want to satisfy. Michael Jackson also sang about our addiction to headlines in the 1995 song TABLOID JUNKIE.
„Trussssst in me, jussssst in me. Sssshut your eyes and trussssssssst in me“
Trust in me. Close your eyes and trust in me, the snake Kaa from Disney’s „Jungle Book“ purrs into the ears of the boy Mowgli with a melody that sounds amazingly similar to the one in MORPHINE. 5 The hissing of the snake Kaa is just as unmistakable as the hissing in DANGEROUsssss. The melody with which the deceitful creature seduces the boy is more than just amazingly similar to the musical „bridge“ in MORPHINE. 6
Literally, Jackson’s MORPHINE is about addiction to these substances that transport you to another world and take away your pain. Maybe symbolically, Jackson’s MORPHINE is about celebrity addiction to the media and our addiction to tabloids. The name „tabloids,“ by the way, has its origins in the word „tablets“.
The snake that Michael Jackson trained to „eat interviewers“
Michael Jackson in real life owned a three meter long boa constrictor. He kept it as a pet because he was Michael Jackson. In 1984, he rolled out the snake in front of a journalist in an interview:
“This is Muscles. And I have trained him to eat interviewers.”Michael Jackson in an interview in1983. 7
Michael Jackson introduced us to this snake that he had „trained to eat interviewers“ in LEAVE ME ALONE, his film in which he denounced the tabloids. source
Michael Jackson as a buffet for the media to feed on or „Eaten Alive.“
1978: „The life you’re leading is dangerous“
Michael Jackson sang together with his brothers in 1978:
„The life your leading is Dangerous. Doggone Dangerous …„
When Jackson sang these prophetic lines, the twenty-year-old had already been living in show business for fifteen years. BLESS HIS SOUL is the ironic title. 8
1983. „You’re just a buffet“
In 1983 Jackson declared „Michael Jackson“ in the song WANNA BE STARTIN‘ SOMETHING to be the buffet from which the „system“ including the tabloid press is eating. Which is still valid up to this day.
„You’re just a buffet, you’re a vegetable. They eat off of you.“Michael Jackson, 1982, WANNA BE STARTIN‘ SOMETHING. 9
In 1988, Jackson visualized the lines in LEAVE ME ALONE from WANNA BE STARTIN‘ SOMETHING, that everyone – especially the tabloids- is eating from him like off a buffet:
„You’re just a buffet, you’re a vegetable. They eat off of you.“Michael Jackson, WANNA BE STARTIN‘ SOMETHING
1985. „I don’t wanna get eaten alive“
„I don’t wanna get eaten alive ‚cause it’s so dangerous. No more hearts I can trust“Michael Jackson in EATEN ALIVE, 1985. 10
After 22 years in show business, Jackson feared being eaten alive at the peak of his success. He wrote this song and he sang it together with Diana Ross.
„Just leave me alone ..“
Then in 1988, Michael Jackson was swallowed up right before our eyes in LEAVE ME ALONE. In this film, in which he addressed the tabloid tactics.
The voracious mouth of a dark industry reminiscent of a false snake is back on DANGEROUS 1991.
The place of the reporters, whom Jackson depicted as dogs, are placed respectively to the left and right of the seemingly non-stop talking mouth. The arrangement of the figures (mouth in the center, left and right two figures) reminds of altar pictures, which were set up in churches.
But what is the meaning behind the symbolism of an altarpiece in LEAVE ME ALONE, in this film in which Michael Jackson condemns the tabloid press?
„Just because it’s in print doesn’t mean it’s the gospel.“Michael Jackson 2003. 11
In 1991 on DANGEROUS, the arrangement of the main characters is again modeled after an altarpiece, and this time it is us, his audience and the public, who are being threatened with being swallowed up and consumed. To be devoured by the industry behind the tabloids, behind the media.
Jackson’s negative portrayal of the tabloid press and its journalists clearly have prophetic features.
Michael Jackson or the all-consuming industry in 1927, 1936 and 1991
Michael Jackson adopted Sir Charles Chaplin as his model in many things, and the industry of „Modern Times“ swallowed him up in the same greedy way as early as 1936. Chaplin, like many other artists including Michael Jackson, took his cue from the 1927 film „Metropolis“. Only a few years later Chaplin was swallowed in this industry and was forced to go into exile.
The mouth of the greedy industry also devoured its star Charles Chaplin in 1936 in „Modern Times“ source and before that the people in the german movie „Metropolis“,1927 directed by Fritz Lang.
- Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS album cover from 1991.
- Jackson, Michael, Album: BAD Song: DIRTY DIANA, 31.08.1987, EPIC
- Jackson, Michael Song: MORPHINE Album: BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR-HISTORY IN THE MIX, 13.05.1997, Sony Music
- 1_Note: In 1993, a worldwide witch hunt for Jackson was launched, which had originated in his relationship with a woman and her two children and was carefully orchestrated by her jealous ex-husband, culminating in horrendous monetary claims and resulting only in the media as „child molestation“. A claim that did not hold up in courtrooms. During this time, Jackson publicly declared his addiction to pain medication, and ended his DANGEROUS world tour before its completion. For interpretation, HIS addiction is equivalent to the addiction for gossip in the Jackson-story, which reached its peak in 1993. His addiction to pain medication, which provided him an escape from the allegations in the media, and OUR addiction to the media reports about Jackson, are reflected in his song MORPHINE. In any case, the career of Jackson the entertainer was ruined by the end of 1993. Not to mention the man behind it. Although he rises again. And again.
- MORPHINE from the album BLOOD ON THE DANCEFLOOR from 1997, Sony Music Entertainment.
- Jungle Book, „Trust in Me“, 1967, Disney’s animated film based on the book „The Jungle Book“ by Rudyard Kippling. In the film, the song lyrics of the snake is Kaa: „Trust in me, just in me/Shut your eyes and trust in me/You can sleep safe and sound/Knowing I am around/ Slip into silent slumber/Sainl on a silver mist Slowly and surely your senses/Will cease to resist/Trust in me, just in me/Shut your eyes and trust in me.“, Walt Disney Productions, DVD, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiPzN2zpb50
- Hershey, Gerry: Michael Jackson: Life In The Magical Kingdom, 17.02.1983, Rolling Stone Magazin „Seconds Later, an eight-foot boa constrictor is deposited on the dining-room table. He is moving in my direction at an alarming rate. “This is Muscles. And I have trained him to eat interviewers.”… “Snakes are very misunderstood,” he says. Snakes, I suggest, may be the oldest victims of bad press. Michael whacks the table and laughs. “Bad press. Ain’t it so, Muscles?“
- Album The Jacksons, Song BLESS HIS SOUL, 17.12.1978, Epic
- Jackson, Michael, WANNA BE STARTIN‘ SOMETHING, Album: Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, 30.11.1982, EPIC Records „You’re just a buffet, you’re a vegetable. They eat off of you …“
- Jackson, Michael, EATEN ALIVE, 1985, Chris Cadman: Michael Jackson The Maestro The Definitive A-Z Volume I A-J „I don’t wanna get eaten alive ‚cause you’re so dangerous. No more hearts I can trust“. Song written by Michael Jackson with Barry and Maurice Gibb from the Bee Gees. Vocals by Diana Ross with Michael Jackson, Barry and Maurice Gibb. Released on Ross‘ album in 1985, Kindle-Positionen7991-7997.
- Michael Jackson interview in „60 Minutes“ with Ed Bradley, december 2003. In 2005, Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges against him. For more information, check out this website here in german and in english.