Why Some Fans Can't Stomach Michael Jackson's 'This Is It'

A handful of critics and fans cry "exploitation"

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Michael Jackson's concert film "This Is It" debuted last night to gushing reviews from fans, critics and celebrities. Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor raved that it was "the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking I have ever seen." But amid the thunderous, predictable fanfare, pockets of devoted Jackson-lovers are boycotting the film, accusing its backers, AEG and Sony Pictures, of exploiting the King of Pop. A handful of critics have echoed their unease. What do they have against the film?

  • Offensive and Reprehensible  A dedicated group of Jackson fans have launched the campaign "This Is Not It" to boycott the film. Among other things, the group claims that Jackson was so weak during the filming, director Kenny Ortega had to feed him and cut his food: "In the weeks leading up to Michael Jackson’s death, while this footage was being shot, people around him knew that he looked like he might have died.  Those who stood to make a profit chose to ignore it.  Friends and fans who had no financial interest, chose to address it and attempted to help him.  AEG, the promoters for ‘This Is It’, ignored the signs, ignored the pleas, and in fact, actively covered up the truth. What you will see on that screen is part of that cover up."
  • A Scheme to Preserve the 'King of Pop' Brand, writes Jacob Bernstein at The Daily Beast: "Sony is—in addition to being the movie’s distributor—Jackson’s record label. That means that the same people putting out the film are the ones who own a 50 percent stake in Jackson’s song catalogue. If the movie successfully creates the impression that the person who had the greatest downfall in popular culture history was on the verge of a massive comeback, it could have an enormous impact on his music sales for years to come. Consequently, everything they’re doing with the marketing campaign is about minimizing Jackson’s reputation as a possible child molester and drug addict, and reviving the sense that he was the unassailable 'King of Pop.'"
  • Exploits Jackson Without Revealing Him, writes Scott Mendelson at The Huffington Post: "There is no getting around the obvious exploitation factor at play. Regardless of how tasteful and respectful this film is, at the end of the day, Sony paid $60 million for the rights to this otherwise private footage because they wanted to cash in on the sudden and shocking death of its star...There is also a clear lack of any kind of illumination to who Jackson really was. Even during private rehearsals, he still seems 'on', so don't expect any kind of unguarded moments or epiphanies about this deeply private man."
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