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Unfinished BusinessMichael Jackson, Detroit, and the Figural Economy of American Deindustrialization$
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Judith Hamera

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199348589

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199348589.001.0001

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Consuming Passions, Wasted Efforts

Consuming Passions, Wasted Efforts

Michael Jackson’s Financial(-ized) Melodramas

(p.53) Chapter 2 Consuming Passions, Wasted Efforts
Unfinished Business

Judith Hamera

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Michael Jackson’s fiscal travails from 2002 to the release of This Is It in 2010, reading coverage of his consumption, debt, and attempts at recovery as racialized public melodrama. It begins with a scene of Jackson shopping in Las Vegas taken from Living with Michael Jackson, viewed through both the emerging consumer credit bubble and the temperance melodrama The Drunkard. It then turns to the ways testimony about Jackson’s finances, particularly his debts, played a pivotal role in his child molestation trial, reproducing a financialized melodramatic racial dialectic that emerged again in the subprime mortgage crisis. It concludes by reading parallels between accounts of Jackson’s physical wasting on the set of This Is It and that of the compulsively dancing child in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Red Shoes.” Both represent the process of disciplining past excesses through redemptive contraction as US austerity rhetoric reached a crescendo.

Keywords:   Michael Jackson, financialization, race, figure, credit bubble, melodrama, Tom/anti-Tom dialectic, fiscal innocence, subprime mortgage crisis, austerity

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