Michael Jackson used the symbol „plane“ and symbolized with it his career in his films and in his music. Jackson held on to this symbol until 2009. 1
„Michael compared his career to the American presidential plane, Air Force One, a 747 like no other, looking to take off and cruise in its own exclusive flying corridor. In his mind, the plane was his ‘empire’. It needed to be aerodynamic. He needed to know each and every passenger he was carrying, and every working part. He was ‘the pilot, flying solo’. This was an analogy he sketched out on paper as a master plan as early as 1978.“Jermaine Jackson. 2
The plane, spaceships or other flying objects showed Michael Jackson in his art, when the topic was about the King of Pop or the entertainment business, the fans and also the stage itself. But where exactly did Michael Jackson present us the symbol „plane“ and all other flying objects in his art?
The „plane“ was a symbol for the career of Michael Jackson?
1984. „The Jacksons“ and the start of the Victory-Tour after the success with Michael Jacksons THRILLER
Michael Jackson starts after the mega success with his solo album THRILLER 1984 one last time with his brothers in the formation „The Jacksons“ to the Victory world tour.
picture: Billboard Magazine 21. July 1984. Pepsi was the sponsor for the Victory Tour. And the symbol „plane“ that Michael Jackson used for his career is present.
„Michael compared his career to the plane … the plane was his ‘empire’ … He needed to know each and every passenger he was carrying, and every working part. He was ‘the pilot, flying solo’.„Jermaine Jackson on the symbology used by his brother Michael Jackson.
1986. With the success of THRILLER, the career of Michael Jackson enters orbit
In 1986, Michael Jackson is shown as the captain of a spaceship, leading his crew to success. In the role of „Captain EO“. source
1988. MOONWALKER. Flying over the career of Michael Jackson and off into orbit
picture:1988. Retrospective from child star to superstar. Michael Jackson flies into orbit source
In the movie MOONWALKER, Michael Jackson flies in the sequence „Retrospective“ first as a child star and then as an adult with BILLIE JEAN in the orbit of success.
1988. MOONWALKER. The departure at the end of the performance of the Michael Jackson
picture: 1988. Michael Jackson’s departure ends MOONWALKER. Viewers are now left with the hope that he will make a comeback. source
Also in the 1988 film MOONWALKER, Jackson shows the dark side of his career: Manager figures like Mr. BIG hound Jackson through half of the plot, driving him into the spotlight of a packed arena at the end. An army of faceless spectators awaits the star’s performance there. It seems the concert is cancelled. Despite all the pressures of Mr. BIG, who does not even stop with beatings, Jackson rejects.
Jackson is trapped, but then outgrows himself, transforming into a kind of super-hero. Nothing can harm him there, on stage. On stage, Michael Jackson is the greatest. All attacks bounce off him. When Jackson’s transformation is complete, the star flies away from this arena into the darkness.
The performance is over. Michael Jackson has left the building.
1991. Michael Jackson and the plane in the song DANGEROUS?
With the song DANGEROUS from the 1991 album of the same name, Jackson ended the LP (or CD) and with it somehow his performance. DANGEROUS, the song, starts with the sound of a gigantic machinery starting to move and paints the picture of an plane taking off.
Had Jackson in 1991 extended the analogy plane=career to the extent that it had become dangerous?
1992. Departure of the King of Pop at the end of DANGEROUS concerts
Michael Jackson ended each of his DANGEROUS concerts in 1992/1993 with him flying out of the arena. His entire crew was busy with the „making of Michael Jackson“. A „Making of“ that became part of the star’s performance.
Michael Jackson had left the building.
1993. WHO IS IT. Michael Jackson, the plane, a career and business manager with suitcases full of money
In 1993, Michael Jackson’s music film WHO IS IT portrays a star, his manager, money deals, performances and violence: the star in WHO IS IT is prostituted and forced to perform. The star in WHO IS IT is played by a woman who in the end refuses to perform just as Michael Jackson had done in MOONWALKER in 1988. Her manager, a Mr. BIG in the industry (see MOONWALKER), doesn’t stop at beatings. One of the last scenes in the film shows Jackson, the „MJJProduction“ logo representing the King of Pop’s career, and the departure of Michael Jackson in a plane, the symbol for his own career.
Michael Jackson’s WHO IS IT is about work, work, work, about pressures in a business where humanity and feelings are left behind.
1995. Michael Jackson flying in SCREAM and also rehearsals, tabloids, instruments and performance
With his short film SCREAM, Jackson set off in 1995 for a landing in a new „Michael Jackson epoch“. Jackson started the completion of his career in 1995 not in a plane, but in a spaceship.
The King of Pop finally wrote HIStory in 1995 and the presentation of his HIStory world tour was launched.
The film SCREAM seems to symbolize the performances of the stars Michael and Janet Jackson, showing their training, their rehearsals, the musical instruments and audience galleries. All these ingredients of the stars are accompanied by bigoted tabloid reports that are driving the stars into madness.
picture: Michael Jackson’s flight towards the beginning of the performance in SCREAM, 1995. source
1996. Michael Jackson flying to his HIStory world tour
To kick off his HIStory concerts, the King of Pop flew not in an airplane, but in a space capsule roller coaster through the virtual history of mankind and became with his career a milestone in this history. The Moonwalker’s virtual flight through space and time led him to the stage at the end. An army of faceless spectators awaited the performance of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, in the arena – just like they did in MOONWALKER in 1988.
Michael Jackson landing at the start of his concerts of the History world tour 1996/1997. Not only had Jackson written history in his career but HIStory . source
2001. 30th anniversary of the career of Michael Jackson and the „crew“ of the Jackson brothers awaits their captain
In 2001, for the 30th anniversary of the career of Michael Jackson and the last time the Jackson brothers perform together, the symbolic „crew“ of the brothers awaits their „Captain“ Michael. The images of the crew of the Captain EO of 1986 are evoked.
And with the appearance of the King of Pop on stage, the sun rises for the last time.
2009. Michael Jackson and the plane in THIS IS IT. That’s it …
In 2009, Michael Jackson was in the midst of preparations for the final concerts of his career, which he had announced with THIS IS IT in March. But Jackson was trapped in 2009 just as he had been trapped in 1988’s MOONWALKER and had been driven into the arena by a „Mr. BIG“ who in 2009 carried the name of concert promoter Randy Phillips. 2009 Jackson was trapped and Mr. BIG (Randy Phillips) hadn’t stopped at beatings in real life. Rehearsal footage shows that the concerts should have ended with the Jackson symbol of the plane that symbolized his career: Jackson was supposed to enter an imaginary plane at the end of his show to fly away – thanks to computer technology – over his audience’s heads into the darkness, roaring with thunder.
Michael Jackson had never made that final flight. Manager figures had operated behind the scenes of the entertainment industry, like Mr. BIG in Jackson’s MOONWALKER in 1988. As in MOONWALKER, an army of faceless spectators awaited the star’s appearance in 2009. But in 2009, Michael Jackson was no longer the pilot of that plane. No longer could Jackson decide which crew was on board and who had to do particular tasks. And so, despite all the pressures imposed by Mr. BIG alias Randy Phillips, the 2009 Michael Jackson concert was cancelled. This time it was final.
Michael Jackson had left the building. The career had cost Michael Jackson his life.
And for Michael’s comeback like in MOONWALKER 1988 we were waiting in vain.