Michael Jackson's "Black Or White" was the first of nine short films from 1991's Dangerous. Directed by John Landis, "Black Or White" features groundbreaking special effects and electrifying dance sequences. The original full-length short film premiered simultaneously in 28 countries for a record-breaking global audience of 500 million!
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Written and Composed by Michael Jackson
Rap Lyrics and Intro by Bill Bottrell
Produced by Michael Jackson for MJJ Productions, Inc. and Bill Botrell
Executive Producer: Michael Jackson
From thealbum Dangerous, released November 26, 1991
Released as a single November 11, 1991
THE SHORT FILM
Director: John Landis
Primary Production Location: Los Angeles, California
Michael Jackson's short film for "Black or White" was the first of nine short films produced for recordings from Dangerous, Michael's fourth album as an adult solo performer. As a single, "Black or White" was an international sensation, topping the charts in 20 countries in 1991 and 1992, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
"Black or White" was certified Gold and Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on January 6, 1992. The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance - Male in 1993. Both "Black or White" and its follow-up "Remember the Time" received BMI Urban Awards in 1993 for being two of the most performed songs of the year.
The ambitious "Black or White" short film again found Michael pushing the boundaries of the "music video" as art form. An extended prologue stars Macaulay Culkin as a boy whose father (George Wendt) is angered by the playing of loud rock music after bedtime. After being admonished for "wasting your time with this garbage," Culkin vengefully plugs a guitar into an enormous speaker, blasting his father out of the house and across the globe, still sitting in his easy chair.
The main body of the "Black or White" short film reflects the song's lyrical plea for racial and cultural unity. Michael is seen on the plains of Africa, the Vasquez Rocks in California, and outside traditional Russian architecture, singing and dancing with African tribesmen, Thai women, Native Americans, an Odissi dancer from India and a troupe of Hopak dancers.
At the song's bridge, Michael triumphantly walks through fiery images of war and injustice before the mid-song rap by L.T.B. is lip-synched by Culkin. Michael sings the final chorus from the Statue of Liberty's torch while other world landmarksloom in the background. The song closes with a lip-synched performance by people of various races, one face morphing into another seamlessly using computer-controlled special effects called "feature-based morphing." This scene marked the first use of this technology outside of a major motion picture. (A young Tyra Banks is among the people in this scene.)
The final scene of the extended version of this short film features a black panther walking off the set and onto an empty city street, morphing intoMichael, who engages in a cathartic dance sequence with no musical accompaniment. As a storefront explodes around him, Michael morphs back into a panther, and an animated end tag shows Bart Simpson watching the short film.
"I wanted to do a dance number where I could just let out my frustration about injustice and prejudice and racism and bigotry," Michael told MTV in 19