With capitalist media pushing out one Michael Jackson videobituary after another, falling all over themselves to concoct and dissect rumors about his death and his life, it’s very desirable for those of us on the Left to neglect to comment on his passing. But it’s hard to ignore a viral video of 1,500 Filipino inmates performing the Thriller dance in the prisonyard. This is not your average video meme; there’s a lot at play here about globalization, race, cultural cross-pollination, gender, sexuality, and the prison-industrial complex. The hit single from the top selling album of all time, released by an American gender-race-bending black man who integrated MTV, is blasted from the speakers in a third world prisonyard, where over a thousand inmates, some of whom may never see the outside world again, dance their hearts out. And in a country that has seen some of the world’s most brutal human rights abuses, the song’s lyrics acquire another layer of meaning: "Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade." What a strange, twisted world capitalism creates.
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