Last Friday, I watched Spike Lee’s Documentary, Micheal Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off The Wall, on Showtime. This was recommended by Jason Hirschhorn’s on Media REDEF newsletter. If you are every looking for something to watch go check out Jason’s media curation website, Media REDEF. He hasn’t given me a bad recommendation yet.
I was born in the eighties, which was just old enough to experience the height of Michael Jackson’s popularity until his criminal issues ruined his career and my opinion of him. This documentary doesn’t touch on those issues. It only focuses on what the title implies: Micheal’s journey from Motown, where he was apart of the Jackson 5 and considered a gimmick- think Justin Timberlake before he left NSYNC, and then eventually to the release his first solo album, Off The Wall. I thought the documentary does an excellent job of showing why Michael Jackson became an international superstar.
There are two things that stood to me:
1) He was always learning. At Motown, and pretty much everywhere he went, he was surrounded by tremendous talent.
2) He hustled.
When you hear people, who do not actually know the person in question, describe talented people they usually use terms like god-given, gifted, or lucky. These are excuses for themselves on why they didn’t accomplish similar success. Instead of simply saying they didn’t work hard enough. For a time in my life, I used to act a similar way about people who were more successful than me. I had a few friends that went on to play professional sports. When we were younger I used to think that they really weren’t much better than me. I made excuses, but if I’m being honest it was really due to a lack of hard work. I don’t mean that everyone can be anything they want to be. Everyone can’t play professional sports. Even less people will become music superstars. My only point is that people who have had success didn’t just accidentally fall into it. They earned it.
If you watch this documentary you’ll see that Michael Jackson was talented, but talent only gets you so far in the music business. It was his hard work, determination, and willingness to learn from the talented people around him that helped him become one of the most successful artists of all time.