Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2016

Michelle Obama

In our American Icons class, we were assigned to pick an icon from a particular category, and I was designated with politics. I decided to leave it up to my French counterpart, Lucie, to pick an American political icon that was most relevant overseas. Of course, the first thing I said was “Please not Trump. He’s not a politician, he’s an entertainer.” To my surprise she didn’t pick, Trump, Obama, Cruz, Hillary, Bernie or any current political candidate. She picked Michelle Obama. It is interesting to learn that her influence isn’t primarily domestic, but translates worldwide.

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born in DeYoung, Illinois on January 17, 1964. DeYoung is now Calumet Park, and is a town right outside of Chicago. Her parents, Fraser Robinson and Marian Robinson, ran an extremely tight knit family. Her father was a city pump operator for Chicago and also a Democratic Precinct captain. Her mother was a homemaker for the most part, raising her and her brother, Craig.

Michelle attended Princeton University and graduated Cum Laude with her bachelors in Sociology. She went on to go to Harvard Law School where she was an activist for more minority involvement in collegiate systems. Out of college she landed a job with Sidley Austin, a law firm in Chicago. In 1989, she was assigned to be an adviser to a new intern, who just happened to be the future 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. She resisted his romantic advances at first, citing their professional relationship, but eventually relented. She was married two years after meeting Barack, on October 3, 1992.

One of the most interesting things about researching Michelle was reading her impressive resume. Her accolades explain her worldwide influence and her strength as FLOTUS.

Assistant Commissioner of Planning and Development in Chicago (1991)

Executive Director of the Office of Public Allies in Chicago (1993)

Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago (1996)

University of Chicago’s Executive Director of Community Development and External affairs (2002)

Vice President of Community External Affairs for the University of Chicago’s Medical Center (2005)

She scaled back her personal work in 2007 to help with her husband’s campaign for president, but was far from dormant. She blazed the campaign trail and garnered national attention when thrust into the spotlight. Her most famous speech came in 2012 when Barack was up against Mitt Romney in the presidential primaries. “Every day, the people I meet inspire me, every day they make me proud, every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth. Serving as your first lady is an honor and a privilege”

As First Lady early on, she has concentrated on many different subjects such as encouraging national service, helping women balance a career and family, and support for military families. She also stressed the importance of education throughout her years as FLOTUS.

Her most well known work as First Lady has been her fight on the food industry and working for health causes. She demanded organic ingredients be used in meals made for guests of the White House as well as members of her family. She installed a 1,100 square foot garden on the White House lawn equipped with fresh vegetables and installed beehives throughout.Her exercise initiative “Let’s Move”, encourages kids and young adults to try new sports and get out and be active. She made a statement on Let’s Move in 2012, saying “This year, 1.7 million young people will be participating in Olympic and Paralympic sports in their communities—many of them for the very first time. And that is so important, because sometimes all it takes is that first lesson, or clinic, or class to get a child excited about a new sport.”

I was very pleasantly surprise to learn about Michelle Obama’s popularity around the world. It is refreshing to know that not only domestically but in places such as France, Michelle Obama’s outreach is felt. She is known as the strong willed First Lady who is no nonsense on the food industry and fights for women’s rights in the workplace and is a strong, positive American Icon that I am proud to report on. She will be a tough act to follow in 2017.

Bibliography

http://www.vogue.com/865252/michelle-obama-leading-by-example/

http://www.biography.com/people/michelle-obama-307592

http://www.letsmove.gov

http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/14/11179572/first-lady-michelle-obama-vr-interview-social-media-pictures

Read Full Post »

As far as political symbolism goes, it doesn’t get much more iconic than the symbols for the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States. The donkey for the republicans and the elephant for the republicans have grown synonymous with the parties themselves. Cartoonist Thomas Nast created the symbols in the 1870’s. To get a better idea of how the symbols came to be, we first need to get a better sense of who Thomas Nast was. Nast was born in Germany and migrated to New York at the age of 6 and quickly began showing strong artistic qualities. He would later go on to work for Harper’s Weekly in 1862, where he incorporated his political knowledge into his artwork. Nast rose to fame by utilizing cartoons to better depict the horrors of the civil war and also helping take down a group of corrupt politicians known as Boss Tweed Ring. Nast’s influence would also lead to the creation of two of America’s most iconic political symbols.

We begin with the donkey or jackass that symbolizes the Democratic Party. In fact the first donkey in a political cartoon was used way before Nast was born in 1837. The opponents of Andrew Jackson used it; they twisted the letters of his last name to make the word jackass. To fully understand how these animals came to become political symbols we need to understand the political climate of Nast’s time. There was a group of Northern Democrats known as the Copperhead Democrats and this group strongly opposed the Civil War from the very beginning. Nast despised this group of democrats and thought of them as anti-union racists. In Nast’s first cartoon he shows a donkey kicking a dead lion. The donkey was branded with the name Copperhead Press, while the lion was branded with the name of Abraham Lincoln’s recently deceased secretary of war, Edward M. Stanton. The cartoon was used to show the Democratic press’ anti-war efforts. The donkey would appear again in 1874 while Ulysses S. Grant was the president. Grant was thought be gearing up to run for a third time and the democrats were comparing him to Julius Caesar and regarding him as a dictator. Nast didn’t agree with these accusations and in his 1874 cartoon titled “Third Term Panic” he depicts a donkey in lions skin labeled Caesarism. The donkey in the cartoon was riling up the other animals and this was used to depict the Democratic fear mongering that was happening during this time. This was also the first time the elephant was used in one of Nast’s cartoons. Even though Nast was only singled out a select few of the Democratic Party, the donkey symbol just stuck and remains to this day.

The origin story behind the elephant becoming the Republican Party begins in 1864 in a piece of literature attached to the Lincoln campaign and again used in 1872 by Harper’s Weekly. As previously stated, the first time Nast introduced the elephant in his 1874 cartoon “Third Term Panic”. The elephant was among the animals that the donkey in lions skin was scaring. Nast’s feelings for the elephant contrasted his feelings for the donkey; because the elephant represented the Republicans, which was the party that he adored since arriving in New York City as boy. Nast would later grow frustrated with the Republican Party, because he believed they were drifting away from social liberalism. Nast first depiction of the Republican Party as a whole came in 1877 and it featured a defeated elephant crouching at a Democratic Party tombstone. This came right after a controversial presidential election, the defeated elephant represented Nast’s belief that Republican Rutherford B. Hayes’ victory despite losing the popular vote was a bitter, damaging victory. Unlike the democratic party, the Republican party actually would later go on to adopt the elephant as their official party mascot.

Although Nast first introduced the animals as political symbols it is unsure why they’ve remained so popular to this day. Now anyone who knows even a little bit about American politics knows that the donkey represents Democrats and the elephant represents the Republicans. These symbols are used even more heavily in the 21st century via all forms of media. Especially now during this current presidential race, you can see the elephant and donkey at any political rally in the form of posters, flyers, pins, etc… The symbols have grown to such prominence that even overseas the symbols can be identified, albeit they’re not as popular as in the United State; they’re still common knowledge of American politics.

 

Reference:

 

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl

 

http://people.howstuffworks.com/donkey-elephant2.htm

-Daniel Bruder

Read Full Post »

By Chelsea Meloccaro UTSA and Mathilde Fleury Angers

DID YOU KNOW…?

The Statue of Liberty is a representation of the American Declaration of Independence during the American Revolution. In 1865, The Statue was proposed by Frenchman Edouard de Laboulaye a French jurist, poet and anti-slavery activist. He wanted The Statue to symbolize the friendship between France and America when they became allies during the war. It was meant to be a gift from France to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence.

Ten years later, in 1875, the sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, designed The Statue meant to be finished in a year. The Statue was a joint effort between America and France. However, only her right hand was finished by 1876 and was displayed at the American centennial exhibition. Due to the lack of funds between both France and the United States, led to a standstill in the construction. The Americans were to build the pedestal and the French were responsible for The Statue and its assembly in the United States.

The French people donated $250,000 to contribute to the construction of the monument. In 1885, Joseph Pulitzer urged the Americans’ to donate money towards the pedestal. Americans raised over $102,000 in donations of less than $1. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (the designer of the Eiffel Tower) designed the structure in a combination of iron as a secondary skeleton and the outer layer copper. Giving The Statue the ability to move during high winds and storms. The original color of The Statue was copper but oxidized over time and turned green. When The Statue was completed in France in July 1884, it was disassembled, reduced to 350 individual pieces, and shipped to the New York Harbor on June 17. The disassembled statue was placed in storage until the pedestal was completed a year later.

In August 1885, the 87ft granite pedestal was built on a former military base, Fort Wood on Bedloe’s Island. The Pedestal was designed by Richard M. Hunt and built by General Charles P. Stone. When completed, the final cost was $270,000 and the money mostly came from public donations. In 1903, the famous poem “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus was engraved on the pedestal. The poem is celebrating the spirit of republicanism and freedom. The Statue was reassembled in 4 months, on April 1886, and was finally inaugurated on Ellis Island, on October 28 of 1886 by the President Grover Cleveland. Its original name was “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.”  In 1924, when The Statue became a national monument, the name changed to become The Statue of Liberty. In 1956 Ellis Island was also renamed Liberty Island.

The Statue is 305 feet tall from the ground to the torch, it is the tallest statue in the United States. Lady Liberty symbolizes the friendship between America and France, but is also a symbol of freedom and hope for those entering into the country. In 1892, when Ellis Island opened as a federal immigration station, 14 million immigrants passed through the station welcomed by The Statue of Liberty. The Statue became a landmark for immigrants and a symbol of new beginnings and hope.

Today The Statue is still a symbol of freedom, and has become a true icon. 4 million visitors per year come to visit Lady Liberty. In 1984, UNESCO named Liberty Island a world heritage site. The Statue is also part of popular culture because it appears in many movies, video games, books, etc. The original statue, a smaller version, is in Paris in the Pont de Grenelle. Today we can find many other versions of The Statue not only in America and France, but all over the world. The reputation of The Statue of Liberty has made it the icon it is today. It’s one of the most famous monument in the world and for this we can say that, it’s not only a national icon but an international one as well.

The New Colossus By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame.

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Bibliography:

Unknown. Fact Monster. “The Statue of Liberty.” Last Modified October, 2015.
http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0101054.html

–.The Statue of Liberty- Ellis Island. “Statue Biography.” Accessed April 21, 2016. http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/statue-of-liberty-history

–. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island. “Statue History.” Accessed April 21, 2016. http://www.libertyellisfoundation.org/statue-history

Wikimedia Commons. “Statue of Liberty, NY. JPG.” Accessed April 28, 2016

Read Full Post »

 An American Gender Icon

by Julie Brown UTSA & Clement Giffard Angers

            Gender is the range of characteristics that differentiates masculinity and femininity.  In most societies, there is a basic division between the gender attributes that are assigned to males and females, a gender binary to which most people adhere and which enforces the conformance to ideals of masculinity and femininity. A gender icon then, would be someone or something that is widely recognized as portraying the attributes and ideals which a society has come to expect of that gender.

            The First Lady of the United States has become an important American gender icon through the years.  Interestingly, it is not because each one who has held that position has been the same, but because they have each been so different.  The First Lady is a position traditionally held by the wife of the President of the United States, but it has never been codified or even officially defined.  It is neither an office nor a job description and is lacking any Constitutional backing.  The First Lady receives no salary and has no official duty, but is expected to be the hostess of the White House.

The responsibilities of the First Lady have come to include:  involvement in political campaigns, management of the White House, and championship of social causes. The First Lady acts as a representative of her husband in ceremonies and receptions both at home and abroad, and as such, is closely watched for hints of her husband’s intentions. She is generally expected to extend good will and bolster the President’s public image.

The role of the First Lady is one that is continually evolving.  It depends much on individual personalities of the women and how they interpret the role.  The role is often defined by the audience to which the First Lady is playing – elite or popular, foreign or domestic.  Additionally, there are constraints placed upon her role from an accumulation of precedents set by former First Ladies.   

In recent decades the role of the First Lady has become more professional in nature as societal norms about women in general have changed.  To be just a social hostess in the White House is not enough anymore.  It has come to be expected for the First Lady to be well-educated and well-informed. She is also expected to be well-dressed, and it is common for her designer of choice to be public knowledge.

Many First Ladies have taken on a specific social cause to champion.  Some examples from recent decades are:  Nancy Reagan and the “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign, Barbara Bush with reading and the “No Child Left Behind” campaign, and Michelle Obama who has tackled childhood obesity.  The hard work of these First Ladies has led to important social change and has led indirectly to changes in policy at the local and federal levels.

The role of the First Lady of the United States has become more iconic with the advent of greater media technology.  Not only does the First Lady get attention as the wife of the President of the United States, but often she attracts attention on her own merits.  As a very visible public figure, she is looked up to and emulated by many American girls and women.  Her role has become a very difficult one to fulfil since she must assume a dual identity of a feminine, loyal companion on one hand and a strong, educated, independent woman on the other.  However, as difficult as this role may seem now, the near future will reveal how this iconic role might change forever, if the American people are faced with a female president and a First Husband in the White House.

 

Read Full Post »

Presented by Carlos Canizales, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Gilles Goulu, University of Angers at France

 

What can make a location iconic within the region of a country is how the place influences the importance of its role from its human and environmental history. The aspects of the region influences the ideas of how people think about the environment that marks the importance of conserving and preserving the resources of the nation, as well as evoking part of its historical preference. Yellowstone National Park is no exception of such aspect. Since it discovery, the American people established Yellowstone region a National Park for numerous reasons, but the aspects of the park is was made this place so iconic. People from around the world became so attracted to the beauty of the wilderness at Yellowstone National Park and become one of the famous national parks to visit. Not only this national park is iconic for its beauty of the landscape, but also for its human history upon discoveries and imageries.

Although many travelers discovered the Yellowstone Valley in the early 1800s, many documented discoveries and expeditions occurred between 1869 and 1872. These expeditions involved people traveling to the region and came back to the eastern states with “engravings, sketches, paintings, photographs, and lithographs” that provided the “medium for the recording, translation, and construction of knowledge about the American West”.[1] One of the examples of paintings that illustrate Yellowstone National Park is Thomas Moran’s The Grand Canon of the Yellowstone, published in 1872 by the U.S Department of the Interior Museum. His painting was positively reviewed by editorials in the U.S, especially by Gilder who described it as “the most remarkable work of art which has been in this country for a long time.”[2] He described his painting that contains “the startling character of the geological forms, the brilliant colors, the manifold planes of distance presented by the view”[3]. Similar paintings that were published at the U.S Department of Interior Museum from the 1870s like Moran’s clearly amazed many Americans that motivated them to visit the region and preserve the historical landmark for other people who wish to see it. This tells us that many people wanted to see the attraction of the waterfalls, forests, geysers, and other features from the beautiful landscape. Because of its geographical features, it helped defined the meaning of the American West as having attracting landscapes that brings people from across the world together to enjoy seeing such beautiful scenery.

071

The Bison

Many Americans thought that the bison serve as a secondary iconic aspect for Yellowstone National Park that defines the American West. History tells us that Native Americans who settled in these areas thousand of years ago used bison as their resource, which “provided food, clothing, fuel, tools, shelter, and spiritual value.”[4] When American settlers traveled west, the bison were once popular for hunting sports in the 1800s. Since then, these animals “became a marketable commodity and great numbers were killed so their hides could be exported to the eastern United States and Europe.”[5] When Yellowstone became a national park, Congress established their goals “to preserve cultural and natural resources, and bison became a symbol of this ideal.”[6] So the bison that occupied in the Yellowstone Valley region served an important role of preserving the natural landscape and their species because they represent the historical discovery of the great geographical location in the American West. United States wanted to show to the world that preserving and protecting the endangered animals is just as important as preserving and protecting their historical landmark that recognizes the nation.

grand-tetons-bison

Acknowledgements:

I would like to thank my french colleague from the University of Angers at France, Gilles Goulu, for us working together on this blog post about Icons of The West, and Dr. Clinton for giving us this great opportunity during our Spring semester. We hope that this educational findings can make you visit Yellowstone National Park and learn more about its historical origins with your family and friends.

References:

[1] John, Gareth E. 2007. Yellowstone as “landscape idea”: Thomas moran and the pictorial practices of gilded-age western exploration. Journal of Cultural Geography 24 (2): 9.

[2] John, Gareth E. 2007. Yellowstone as “landscape idea”: Thomas moran and the pictorial practices of gilded-age western exploration. Journal of Cultural Geography 24 (2): 2.

[3] John, Gareth E. 2007. Yellowstone as “landscape idea”: Thomas moran and the pictorial practices of gilded-age western exploration. Journal of Cultural Geography 24 (2): 2.

[4] White, P. J., Rick L. Wallen, and David E. Hallac, eds. “Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society.” Yellowstone Association, 2015, 132.

[5] White, P. J., Rick L. Wallen, and David E. Hallac, eds. “Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society.” Yellowstone Association, 2015, 135.

[6] White, P. J., Rick L. Wallen, and David E. Hallac, eds. “Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society.” Yellowstone Association, 2015, 135.

Bibliography:

John, Gareth E. 2007. Yellowstone as “landscape idea”: Thomas moran and the pictorial practices of gilded-age western exploration. Journal of Cultural Geography 24 (2): 1-29.

White, P. J., Rick L. Wallen, and David E. Hallac, eds. “Yellowstone Bison: Conserving an American Icon in Modern Society.” Yellowstone Association, 2015, 1-265.

Read Full Post »

The Cheerleader

The American cheerleader has evolved from a male-dominated college organization in the early 1900s, to a female dominated sport spanning various age groups. The cheerleader has achieved an iconic status that has minimal association with cheerleading performance or competition. The cheerleader’s symbolism is contradictory in that it is derogatory and somewhat desirable at the same time.

The first cheerleaders were at Yale University.  They were an all male group and their role was to involve the crowd at football games.  Females came to dominate when males went to war during WWII.  Gymnastics and acrobatics were introduced in the 1960s.  Professional cheerleaders, particularly the iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, contributed to the sexualization of the cheerleader as they were the first to introduce form-fitting, revealing uniforms.  Uniforms across all age groups reflect this trend, however, uniforms for college, high school, and junior high level teams tend to be less revealing than professional teams.

High school and college organizations tend to be high-skill and competitive, while professional organizations largely depend on physical appearance and moderate dancing skills, with some exceptions.  Present-day cheerleaders, especially those in high school organizations and school-aged competitive organizations, have achieved a high level of athletic skill which is largely overshadowed by the symbolism of cheerleading.  The cheerleader is a staple of nearly any film set in a high school.  The stereotypical cheerleader is a popular female, not particularly intelligent, often conceited and not usually friendly.  She wears her uniform to school everyday and dates her male equivalent—the hunky football star.  There is very little association between the cheerleader and the act of cheerleading.

This icon presents derogatory symbolism, but not an entirely undesirable status.  The stereotypical cheerleader, in all her ditsy, snobby, promiscuous glory, is not someone most would aspire to become, yet her status remains somewhat coveted.  Taylor Swift’s 2008 lyrics “She wears short skirts, I wear T-shirts, she’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers,” are an example of this contradiction in symbolism.  Swift’s song suggests that she craves the status of the cheerleader for her ability to attract the attention of others, yet the cheerleader is clearly not someone who Swift desires to emulate.

The American cheerleader is an icon that is recognized internationally.  While cheerleading has gained popularity worldwide, it remains predominantly American.  In working with my French partner, Andreea, I confirmed that the symbolism associated with the cheerleader resonates outside of the U.S.  Andreea expressed that she associates the cheerleader with the derogatory symbolism identified in this blog.  Also, she noted that her ideas about the cheerleader have been mostly shaped by depictions in film.

The iconic cheerleader survives as an abstract representation of popularity and snobbery, yet the reality is that cheerleading, especially high school and college level cheerleading, has evolved to an athletically competitive activity—dare I say ‘sport’.    Most representations of the cheerleader in film continue to base the cheerleader’s identity on the iconic symbolism, rather than on reality.  Perhaps, films like ‘Bring It On’ which are entirely devoted to cheerleading, showcase the competitive aspect of cheerleading, but this is an exception and most likely the creation of someone with an insider perspective—not an American relying solely on the iconic characteristics for his or her information.  Furthermore, a film that is centered on cheerleading can be expected to be more accurate than a film in which the cheerleader is a mere element in a stereotypical high school setting.

Read Full Post »

As I was chatting with another student a few days ago, we got on the subject of favorite songs. He told me that one of his favorite songs was “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson followed closely by “Heal the World.” I knew about “Heal the World” since it had been somewhat popular in the United States, but I really didn’t have a clue about “Earth Song.” So of course, I looked it up on the internet. Shock number 1: It is one of the songs on his Number Ones CD (the song was very big in Europe). Shock number 2: It didn’t receive much airplay in 1995 when it was released on Michael Jackson’s “HIStory” album. His record company EPIC never released the song as a single, possibly because they were focusing on his older more “dance inspiring” songs on the album and not on his newer works. While reading about Michael Jacksons popularity in Europe I realized something. I never realized how much of a philanthropist and an environmentalist Michael Jackson was.
I grew up with Michael Jackson. He was the same age as me, his birthday was in August while mine is in July. He came crashing onto the scene right around the same time as Donny Osmond, and I really loved the songs both groups sang. As I got a bit older, my musical choices shifted a bit and I got rid of all my Osmond and Jackson Five cassettes. In the early 1980’s when Michael Jackson returned to the music scene with “Off the Wall” I was once again hooked, and I can honestly say I was a fan of his until his death. I know that the media was, in my humble opinion, harsh on him calling him names like “Wacko Jacko” and making insinuations. Yes, he did some strange things, but at the same time he was one of the leading philanthropic entertainers in the United States. In 2000 he entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star.” It is estimated that in his lifetime he donated $500 million to charities. 20% of his estate went to charities when he passed away in 2009. Michael Jackson gave to such groups as Aids Project Los Angeles, End Hunger Network, Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund, and the TJ Martell Foundation to name just a few of the 67 known charities he supported publicly. After being burned seriously while filming a commercial for Pepsi in 1984, he received 1.5 million from the corporation. He then turned around and donated all the money to establish a Burn Center for Children at Brotman Memorial Hospital where he was treated for his burns. In 1985, Jackson along with Lionel Ritchie wrote “We Are the World” and performed it as part of an all star lineup to raise money for the relief of famine and disease in Africa. The song raised $63 million for Africa. His philanthropy was not just focused on notable charitable organizations. He had a keen empathy and willingness to help individuals who were in need. He stood strong alongside Ryan White when so many were turning their back on the young man because of his AIDS diagnosis. He met Bela Farkas while he was touring in Europe. When he found out that the little boy was in the orphanage because his parents had abandoned him due to his liver disease, Jackson arranged to pay for the young boy’s treatments, transplant, and any other expenses. In1995, Michael Jackson paid for and attended Craig Fleming’s memorial service The 2-year old and his older brother were thrown off a bridge by their suicidal mother. Jackson also pays his surviving brother’s medical costs and established a trust fund in benefit of the latter. With his celebrity, it was easy to lose sight of the fact that he was a pioneer for charitable fundraising in the entertainment industry. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 1998 and 2003.
Many of the children that Michael Jackson helped were orphans. Many were in orphanages because of war, famine, or disease. Jackson was a strong lover of the earth, it’s animals and its humans. Through his music, he made his feelings known on subjects such as racism, intolerance, poverty, war, the environment, and famine. Songs like “Earth Song”, “Heal the World”, “We Are the World”, “Black and White”, and “Man in the Mirror” are all examples of his deep love for humanity and the environment. Earth Song is known as the most popular environmental songs ever, it reached the top charts in more than 15 countries. Worldwide, it sold ten million copies, and was NOT released as a single in the US. The song blends rock, gospel, the blues and a touch of opera. Maybe that’s the reason the record company in the United States never released it as a single, they had no idea what to categorize it under. Earth Songs lyrics are Michael Jackson’s way of focusing us on the dire situation that the World was (and still is) facing. Shot in 4 different parts of the world it depicts deforestization of the Amazon, drought and famine in Africa, war and poverty in Croatia, and forest fires in America. All four themes are linked to mankind and the misery that they have themselves wrought upon the earth and its inhabitants.
Earth Song

What about sunrise
What about rain
What about all the things
That you said we were to gain…
What about killing fields
Is there a time
What about all the things
That you said was yours and mine…
Did you ever stop to notice
All the blood we’ve shed before
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores?

What have we done to the world
Look what we’ve done
What about all the peace
That you pledge your only son…
What about flowering fields
Is there a time
What about all the dreams
That you said was yours and mine…
Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war
Did you ever stop to notice
The crying Earth the weeping shores

In the song “Man in the Mirror” Michael Jackson states that he is “starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways . . . If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change.” Sort of reminds me of Mahatma Ghandi’s words “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Let’s make that change…not just for us, but for our children and generations to come.

Thank you Charly Cruault for answering my questions about Michael Jackson, and leading me to Earth Song and Heal the world.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »