I am currently on chapter 4 of this book, and I have to say this is one of the most amazing, insightful, innovative, and thought provoking books on Michael Jackson and his work I have ever read.
Before going on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I was looking for Michael Jackson books I might have missed and found Dr. Stillwater's book. I was skeptical, but thought, hey, for the price, what can go wrong.
Like another reviewer before me mentioned, I was at first questioning if the author was not maybe reading too much into the songs and shortfilms. I have always wondered, sitting through many literature classes in college, what they original creators would think of all the interpretations going on.
Having studied Michael Jackson both from an artistic as well as a psychological perspective for a while now, I have long ago realized that he used the "pop culture veneer" as a kind of glossy surface to much deeper ideas and concepts. Sure, you can take that surface and run with it, but you can also be rewarded further to let Michael take you on a trip deeper below the glitter, which, as Dr Stillwater points out can be "a scary" excursion into aspects of human nature, our society, and our culture that are not always pleasant to look at.
After taking us on a short trip down the rabbit hole of some of MJ's most popular songs, the author digs deeper and addresses the history of the 93 Chandler allegations. She uses original documents and quotes to show us what was always right there before our eyes. Then, with a deep understanding into Michael's psyche, she paints a painful picture of the impact of these charges on his worldview, his vision, and his psychological make-up. She offers one of the most likely reasons for the Chandler settlement I have ever read. As a clinician working with survivors of trauma, her hypothesis of impact of the strip search hit me in my gut. NOW it suddenly all came together for me!
Dr Stillwater, then addresses how Michael used his face as a canvas and she addresses, using amazing photographic evidence, the "surgery addiction myth." Next, she highlights how Michael challenged established social categories as well as psychological schemas such as race, sexuality, gender... She uses the concepts of "physical emotional impact" and how he uses his words and images to overcome barriers long established in our subconscious.
If you are a Michael Jackson fan, or not (and let me say,if you are not, I HIGHLY recommend this book, to challenge your own beliefs)- and if you have any interest in art, music, and psychology, I HIGHLY recommend this read. I cannot wait to read on and continue the amazing journey Willa Stillwater is taking us on!