Say what you will hippies…

…but they don’t call him the “King of Pop” for nothing.

While watching this performance live on the television in 1983 at the tender age of 11, I was absolutely blown away. And if I’m honest with myself, it remains one of the most memorable TV moments of the 80s for me.

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8 Responses to Say what you will hippies…

  1. Cole says:

    This was a huge moment for me as well! I learned that if you could dance, people paid attention. I also learned that gliding across the floor one sparkly glove was really hard to pull off at a middle school dance. Ahh, the 80’s! Fuck grunge, this was the real deal.

  2. Scott Leslie says:

    ahh, youngster, I can forgive you your foolish revelries as clearly you don’t recall the far more superior (seriously – can you even stand to listen to Thriller still? ugh!)

    “Ahh, the 80’s!” more like “aggh! the 80’s!” To paraphrase James Joyce, the 80’s are a nightmare from which I am still trying to awake. Nostalgia for the 80’s is like, well, nostalgia for high school – it really wasn’t nearly as fun as you remember it to be, and you actually were as funny looking then as it looks now. Sheesh.

    The only good thing about this reminiscence is that in trying to recall Arthur Kroeker’s book on excremental culture I came to realize that he is now a prof at UVic! So at least now I can go stalk one of my post-modern theory heroes.

  3. Mikhail says:

    Yeah, he was pretty baddass back then. I remember being mesmerized by the Billie Jean video. In general, MTV drove a wedge between my parents and me in so far as we reacted differently to seeing what the people who sang those awesome songs on AM radio looked like (Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club, Human League). They were appalled and I was intrigued. But we could agree on Michael Jackson.

  4. Reverend says:

    @Cole: Absolutely, you are 100% correct.

    Whereas, @Scott, on the other hand, is mistaking nostalgia for some kind of rational, objective retrospect that never existed. What he fails to acknowledge is that returning to the 80s is just as much about going home again—an impossibility I know–but nonetheless an essential element of getting ready for old age and death. Rationality plays no role in the fact that we an imagine our own non-existence, which is why moments like Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean have so very little to do with taste, and everything to do with being part of something with others–an event, a feeling, a moment. That is what makes us go on, everything else is just window dressing. Moreover, unlike Scott, I was extremely happy in high school and I looked almost as good as I do now. My dress was impeccable, and I never had any girl issues. In fact, I was valedictorian and an All-American athelete. I was a 2x winner on Star Search, and had a starring role in several John Hughes’ films. I dated Molly Ringwald, and hung out with Harry Dean Stanton, and I beat up James Spader. I was the 80s, Scott, I was there when Wall Street re-defined greed and cocaine was falling like snow from the Canadian sky, I walked with Lennon on the sidewalks of NYC, and dreamed of peace in Grenada. Life was good in the 80s, damn it, I don’t hate the 80s, I don’t hate them, I don’t!! 🙂

    Exactly, my mom was a huge Michael Jackson fan for most her her later adult life. She actually made the Motown 25 event so special because she flipped out in her characteristic way, say “Oh my Gawd! he is amazing!! I’ve never seen such a performer in my life. And to think he ha been doing thi since he was two….”

  5. Scott Leslie says:

    “Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean have so very little to do with taste, and everything to do with being part of something with others–an event, a feeling, a moment. That is what makes us go on, everything else is just window dressing” – kumbaya, ye muppetfracking hippy! What’s next – reflections on the weltanschauung spawned by the final episode of M.A.S.H.? Clearly all that coke you did with James Spader while dating Harry Dean Stanton has gone to your head.

  6. Chris L says:

    Me? I’m just still trying to learn to moonwalk.

  7. Reverend says:


    Uncle! Uncle! Uncle!—that was brilliant, busted out laughing after that uppercut. But, for the record, I did lines on Harry Dean’s navel and dated James Spader.

    I still am too after all these years, and I still suck. The way he moves his feet in this clip is magical to me. I love you Michael!

  8. Tom H. says:

    Thanks, Jim, for sharing this classic. After years of disagreeing with my wife about MJ’s artistic value, she dragged me (that tells you which side I was on) to a concert at MSG where he put on a few numbers. After seeing his dance moves in person, I conceded that it was the best dancing I have ever witnessed. And when he ran through the aisles of screaming fans I had a flashback to my teen-hood.

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