Michael Jackson Behind the Mask - A Review
I’ve always been fascinated with the subject of body language. I agree with that old adage, actions speak louder than words. I think you can tell a lot about a person by their actions. Therefore, when I saw that Craig-James Baxter wrote a book about “What Michael Jackson’s body language told the world” I knew I had to read it.
What’s interesting about this book, is that I found I had to be near a computer when I read it, because with every movement he described, I wanted to go back to the video he was referencing to observe it.
The author reviews several notable interviews that Michael gave including the one with Oprah Winfrey and Martin Bashir. In addition, he reviews the rebuttal to “Living with Michael Jackson,” the statement from Neverland Ranch that Michael gave in 1993 in response to allegations of child molestation, and an interview with the police.
I like how Craig describes body language in that it “sends out a silent message.” Reading this book makes you look at the people in your life in a whole new way. He lists an index at the back of the book with body language terminology, describing specific movements and their meanings. He also gives background information about how he got into his history of reading body language as well as the reason he decided to focus his attention on Michael Jackson’s body language. He felt Michael was “subject to some unfair and perhaps unfounded accusations regarding his private life.”
I was pleased that the author included subtle clues as what the body language of the journalists possibly suggested. For example, in the interview with Oprah, Craig picked up on her lack of friendless toward Michael immediately by analyzing the way she greeted him. In the documentary, “Living with Michael Jackson” he noted Bashir’s lack of respect for Michael in several places. Those points give the reader insight into the attitude the journalists had toward Michael.
He highlights body movements, hand gestures, eye movements, leg crossing and many other gestures to help us understand what Michael may have been feeling during those interviews. For example, in the interview with Oprah, there was a segment with Elizabeth Taylor. When she came into the room, Michael was a gentleman and let her have his chair. He remained standing because there was no other chair for him to sit in. Elizabeth began talking about him thoughtfully. I always interpreted Michael’s facial expression to mean that he felt shy about what Elizabeth was saying, but Craig’s observations suggest that he may have felt frustration at not being given a chair of his own, which took the focus and power away from him. He suggested that Michael’s behavior indicated “I am very frustrated and neither happy nor comfortable.” There are little gems like that all over in the book.
One of my favorite observations Craig made, was about Michael showing Neverland to Oprah and Bashir. In both cases, he noted that Michael's body language indicated how proud he was of what he had created – as well he should be.
By analyzing the interviews he did, Mr. Baxter concluded that Michael Jackson was innocent of all the allegations made against him. It was fascinating to observe the behaviors that lead him to those conclusions.
He did reveal a couple of instances where he felt Michael was not being completely honest; also interesting to observe Michael’s body language in those moments. If you read the book, you can judge for yourself whether you agree with him or not.
In the documentary “Living with Michael Jackson” Craig writes about the time Michael encountered a fan in a shopping mall. He concludes from his body language that Michael is humble; a man who takes time for his fans despite his mega stardom.
In his observations about Bashir, Craig indicates that he was disrespectful toward Michael and his intentions were dishonorable. He makes note of the fact that due to selective editing, Michael was not presented in a positive light in any way.
I loved getting to know Michael from the perspective of his body language. Craig indicated that there may be a second book to observe other media scandals Michael encountered and possibly his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley.
I’m looking forward to that.
Director of Community Development
You can find more information about Craig's book called "Behind the Mask: What Michael Jackson's Body Language Told the World" by visiting his website here.
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