Jackson Alters His New Video
The day after the debut of Michael Jackson's first video release in two years found the gloved one making some heavy-handed changes.
The last four minutes of his "Black or White" video, which was broadcast during prime time Thursday night on the Fox Network, MTV and Black Entertainment Television, will be cut, Jackson announced through a press release.
All three networks were inundated with calls from parents angry about the 11-minute video's final portion, which included scenes of Jackson grabbing his crotch and smashing car windows with a crowbar.
"It was horrible. People are complaining," said Danielle Parker, a Fox spokeswoman, who added that the network's New York office received hundreds of phone calls. "They're saying they don't understand it, and that it was pretty gross."
KCPQ-13, Fox's Seattle-Tacoma affiliate, received 40 to 50 calls, said station general manager Roger Ottenbach. "The response was similar," he said. "Parents were upset about the sex and violence in the last part."
He added that it might be the last time Fox airs programming without first fully screening it.
Jackson released a statement that said: "It upsets me to think that "Black or White" could influence any child or adult to destructive behavior, either sexual or violent. I've always tried to be a good role model and therefore have made these changes to avoid any possibility of adversely affecting any individual's behavior. I deeply regret any pain or hurt that the final segment of "Black or White" has caused children, their parents or any other viewers."
The video opens with child actor Macaulay Culkin ("Home Alone") using his electric guitar to blow his armchair-bound father George Wendt (Norm of "Cheers") through the roof and across space to an African veldt, where Jackson appears dancing with a group of tribesman. Through a series of state-of-the-art special effects, Jackson dances to the beat-heavy song through myriad global settings, extolling a world without racial barriers.
The last four minutes show Jackson metamorphosing from a live panther into a black-clad street tough dancing down a dark and seamy city back street. The subsequent sequence has him undulating, grabbing his crotch, zipping the fly of his pants and breaking out the windows of a parked car. Jackson has said the sequence was only meant to represent the panther's animalistic behavior.
The video ends with cartoon character Homer Simpson telling his son, Bart, to turn off the television.
Producers estimated that the video was seen by more than 500 million people. Fox Network representative Andrew Shipps said it was the highest-rated Fox special ever, as was the hour-plus of programming that also included "The Simpsons" and "Beverly Hills 90210."
The combination of those shows bothered Michael Preston, president of the Seattle School Board. "This combination was obviously designed to reach as many children as possible," he said.
Preston said he thought the first part of the video was positive and beautifully done. "After that it became kind of an overkill," he said. "How many times does he (Jackson) have to grab himself before we get the point? Still, when it's Michael Jackson dancing it's hard to turn away."
Fox, MTV and BET will simultaneously broadcast the edited version of "Black or White" as part of the Michael Jackson special "Dangerous," set to air tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.
MTV will continue to air the original version until it receives the new version, said spokeswoman Linda Alexander.
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