MOVIE REVIEWS: The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989)

The Little Mermaid
There’s no question that Walt Disney Animated Studios has given us some memorable and impactful films for nearly 80 years. There are iconic films that have definitely stood against the passage of time. One of those films is the picture that sparked the Disney Renaissance of the late ’80s/1990s, The Little Mermaid (Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989). It gross over $212 million in the box office upon its release, and people are still talking about it 15 years after its cinematic premier. But how good is it? What’s good and bad about the film? That’s what this review is going to answer!

Since this is my first Disney review, let me tell you the 5 categories I will judge these movies on: the animation, the songs and music, the romance, the characters, and the story. With that being said, let’s start the review!

ANIMATION: The animation of this film is one of the best things about the movie. It looks absolutely beautiful! Whether you like the movie or dislike it, you can look at the animation and tell why this sparked the Disney Renaissance. The lighting, the colors, the fluent movement of the characters, the lining – it is just amazing. In some cases, it does look a bit dated, though. I think that might depend on what you’re watching the film on. If you’re watching a video release, of course it’ll look old. If you have a newly remastered DVD or Blu-Ray version, the movie might not look like it was made in the ’80s. I don’t know, there’s something about the way it was drawn and some of the shots that reads “1989” to me. Even then, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It still looks fantastic! If you can’t admire anything else in this movie, you should definitely admire the animation! The Little Mermaid Animation

SONGS/MUSIC: As with most Disney movies, the songs are some of the most memorable things about this movie. This is the first Disney film that has Broadway/showtune-type songs, and, apparently, it worked really well. It’s important to note that the songs were brought to us by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. These two had great success on Broadway and in Hollywood with some great hits, including the ever so popular musical, Little Shop of Horrors! Needless to say, I think they know what makes a good musical, and they definitely bring it all to this movie! Let’s talk about the songs one at a time:
1) Daughters of Triton: Oh yeah, that was a thing…Man, that song is forgettable. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhAPACQRr_w
2) Part of Your World/(Reprise): Ah, yes, one of the famous Disney “I Want” songs. Well, I must say, this is not a bad song. It does one of the things a song in a musical should do; it tells us how a character is feeling and what he/she wants. We clearly learn what Ariel is feeling and she obviously tells us what she wants…Though am I the only one who is tired of hearing characters use the phrase “I want more?” Could you clarify a bit what you mean by that? But I digress. She actually does tell us what she wants. The music is memorable. The tune is enjoyably catchy, and the orchestrations are great as well. I don’t enjoy the lyrics as much, but that’s not Howard Ashman’s fault. We’ll talk about that later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BZp2dxpwF8
3) Under the Sea: I wonder what the reasoning of putting this song in the movie was. It doesn’t do anything for the story or characters. We don’t learn about anyone, it doesn’t reveal anything, and we already know we’re in the sea; thus the song isn’t really needed. However, it is a lot of fun. The lyrics, the music, the tune, the singers – it’s all way too enjoyable. This is the movie’s Number One song for a reason. Everyone knows this song, most people love this song. While it’s not my favorite song, I have to admit I like this song as well…And it won the movie an Oscar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC_mV1IpjWA
4) Poor Unfortunate Souls: YEAH MAN! This song kicks butt! It’s just an incredible, awesome villain song – an incredible, awesome song period! THIS is my favorite song in the movie! It’s sung by a great character (who we’ll get to later), the lyrics are creative, and the music is wonderful! Not only that, but it does what songs in musicals are supposed to do: it progresses the story. We see Ursula convincing Ariel to go along with this obviously evil plan. Because of the lyrics and the pacing, we see Ursula’s menacing spirit, so one could argue it gives us character development as well. I love this song! It’s awesome! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyFVG4VfPmg
5) Les Poissons: Like “Under the Sea,” I have to ask why was this song put in the movie? This song REALLY has nothing to do with anything. The character who sings this song is only shown twice in the movie, during this scene and again at the end. Not only that, but I really don’t remember it or enjoy it that much. It’s not bad, it’s just unnecessary. However, many people do enjoy this song, so maybe there is something there. As a stand alone song, I guess it’s alright. As a song in a musical, though, it’s definitely filler and could have been taken out.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iq-UaXQ1c1M
6) Kiss the Girl: There’s not a whole lot I can say about this song. Unlike the last song, this is kind of necessary. It’s also beautiful to watch and listen to. It sounds nice, we see a romance happening, and it was even nominated for an Oscar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXmLRHnoSAs

ROMANCE: I don’t really know how to judge the romance in this movie. On one hand, Ariel fell in love with Eric at first sight. This, as we know, is a cliché that has been forsaken long ago, but that’s how Ariel falls in love. And, yes, I know Ariel spends time with Eric later; but did her feelings change at all? Did she love Eric more when she spent time with him? Not really. The same feelings she had for Eric at the beginning of the movie are the exact same feelings she holds onto for him throughout the entire film. So…yeah, it seems pretty stupid in that regards. On the other hand, however, they do have a nice connection when they are together. It is rather nice just watching these two spend time together. As a matter of fact, it’s peculiar how Eric falls for Ariel since she can’t talk. It’s so strange, yet somehow charming. I give the romance a 6 out of 10.

CHARACTERS: I do have mixed feelings about the characters as a whole in this film, so let’s talk about them from first to worst:
1) Ursula – I LOVE Ursula! Gosh, if she were real, I’d marry her! If you read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains essay, you know this character is my second favorite Disney villain! She has attitude, she’s sassy, she’s direct, she’s an over-the-top drama queen! Not only that, but she’s menacing and conniving and downright evil! I love it! I love her! For more details, go read my Top 10 Favorite Disney Villains essay.

The Little Mermaid Ursula
2) Sebastian and Scuttle – I put these two together because I have the same thing to say about the both of them: they’re fine. They’re supportive of our main character and the story, and they can have some funny moments. There are times I find them annoying, but they never become too annoying or unbearable. They’re not the best, but they’re not the worst either. They’re fine.

The Little Mermaid SebastianThe Little Mermaid Scuttle
3) Eric – I always say that Eric is like the earlier Disney princes, except he can talk. I don’t feel like I get a character from him. He’s nice and all, but what is he outside of that? What does he do? What does he enjoy? The later Disney princes (like Naveen and Flynn) definitely have a lot more character and personality to them. Eric? No, I’m still trying to figure out who he is.

The Little Mermaid Eric
4) Flounder – I don’t like Flounder. Why? First of all, he’s too cute. His design, his voice, his gestures and actions, his face – UGH! It’s too much! Secondly, I don’t like how he never says, “Hey, Ariel, maybe we shouldn’t do this! Didn’t your father say not to go to the land?” There’s not one moment in the film he thinks of the rule King Triton made. He just goes along with Ariel’s foolishness, and it’s annoying. Speaking of the king…

The Little Mermaid Flounder
5) King Triton – I didn’t see this film until the summer of last year, 2013. Prior to my seeing it, I heard a lot of people say how great King Triton is. I was expecting a sort of pre-Mufasa character: a great and loveable king and father. And…I sort of got that. My only problem with Triton is that the movie never gives us a reason why he doesn’t want Ariel to go to the surface. We as the audience have to relate to why he feels so strongly about this, and we’re never told what his motivation is for keeping Ariel under water. That makes him look really weak, and that’s not what I wanted from him. I like him, but there’s no reason for his actions, at least none the movie offers. And, I’m sorry, that’s really lame.

The Little Mermaid King Triton
6) Ariel – Alright, let’s get into it. I dislike Ariel with a passion. She’s selfish! If she had an option to take anything back, I don’t think she would! Why? Because not only did she know what she was doing (deliberately going behind her father’s back and disobeying him), but she got everything she wanted! Yes, despite her rebellion and causing so much trouble for everyone around her, she still got her precious Happily Ever After! What the crud? Her song “Part of Your World,” though it sounds nice, is basically her just whining about her not being content with anything she has; and she won’t be satisfied until she has more! It wouldn’t bother me as much if it weren’t for the fact that Ariel is the main character – the character we’re supposed to learn from and identify with! What does she teach us? “Hey kids! If you do the opposite of what your parents say, you’ll live happily ever after! They’re just parents! Just because they’re older than you doesn’t mean they’re smarter and wiser and more experienced than you!” I’m not asking for her to be perfect, but I don’t think she learned a lesson in this film. When she apologizes to her father towards the end, I think she was saying that because Ursula caught her. If she didn’t mean any of the trouble she caused, she wouldn’t have caused it.

The Little Mermaid Ariel

STORY: I must admit, I’ve never read or heard the original Hans Christansen version of this story, so I can’t really compare this movie to its original source material. On paper, the story is fine. It’s good, in fact. It’s interesting, and I want to follow it. I do have one problem with it, however, although this is more so a problem with the movie and not necessarily the story (if that makes any sense). What is the message of the film? I won’t harp on it again, but I don’t like what the movie is saying about teenagers making their own decisions or parenting or love. Between the message and Ariel, I find great and fantastic fault with this movie.

CONCLUSION: Based on my annoyances with Ariel and the message, you’d think I’d hate this movie, right? Well, in all honesty, I don’t…I cannot for the life for me bring myself to say I like this movie, but I don’t dislike it either. I think the reason for that is the good things I mentioned before are too good. The animation is great. The songs as a whole are good. The romance is enjoyable. Ursula is incredible, and worth the price of admission! In fact, I’d like the movie a lot more if Ursula won! I think this movie is a guilty pleasure for me. I do find myself coming back to it often. However, the problems I have with it are some pretty big problems. If you like this film, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just have my own reservations about it. If the same things that bother me also bother you, this is not the movie for you.

The Little Mermaid 2

Reviews!

Hee-lo!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to analyze entertainment. There are a lot of current and nostalgic movies and television shows. I love analyzing to find out why they are good or why they are bad. Because of that, I will be publishing some reviews! With that being said, let me say right now that I am by no means a critic! I have some understanding of cinema as an art, but I don’t study it like I study other art forms, like theatre. However, I do have my own opinions about these pictures that I’d love to share. If you disagree with any of my reviews/opinions, that’s fine! That doesn’t mean either of us are stupid, it just mean we don’t share the same opinion. That’s what makes us different and unique. With that being said, be on the lookout for some reviews!
—Bro. B.I.B.
—BOOYIKA!

A Dead Life

***This was written on October 7, 2014***

The air in my lungs is gone
My heart no longer beats
The feeling in my body is absent
I am cold as ice
I have no soul
No control over the darkness that surrounds me
This deadly plague that bounds me
I am condemned to a prison with no air
No warmth, no care
No windows or light that I may see at night
I am bound, yet there are no walls
I am caged, but there aren’t any bars
I lower my head and accept the truth:
I am dead
That is what I am without You
What is life if You are not here?
What is its worth if You’re not near?
Every morning I open my door to be greeted by depression
Recession
Agression
And I must make the confession that I want to die
Why?
Because living without You is like waking up to a morning where the sun forgot to rise,
Walking through the forest, and the birds deny you their chirping and singing
Not being able to hear the most pleasant chimes ringing
Playing a song with no music, but its lyrics so abusive
Going through an entire year in which the seasons never change,
It’s always the same
And it drains the life from me to live without You

(c) October 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Hell

***This was written on September 23, 2014***

Dare you justly want to go
To the home far deep below
Of those who run, denounce, or shun
That! which yearns their dear hearts so?

Your skin will crawl and melt and peel.
The demons will pierce you through your heel.
They’ll stab and rape your flesh to scrapes.
They beat whatever else you may feel.

The chorus of billions shrieking terrorous cries,
The pit of the fallen to their demise,
Blood becomes wine for some to dine,
For they love the horrified fear in your eyes.

If pure wickedness lies in your core,
You set fire to your flesh like never before,
It is hate you love, you despise what’s Above,
You’ll receive all of this and much, much more.

(c) September 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

When Was the Last Time?

***This was written on July 21, 2014***

Jesus, when was the last time I stopped to say “Thank You?”
When did I last show gratitude for the many things You do?
May I never get too busy to thank You for shining You Light
You allowed me to see this day when I shouldn’t have made it through the night
I’m not strong enough to make it on my own
When I thought I didn’t have a friend, You showed me I’m not alone
Yes, God. I just wanted to say thank You.

Jesus, when was the last I stopped to praise You?
Throughout all the situations I faced, You always brought me through.
When was the last time I acknowledged Your goodness toward me?
You gave me feet to walk, hands to touch, ears to hear, and eyes to see.
You’ve looked out for me more than I’ve looked out for myself.
Even when I don’t realize it, You’re there surrounding me with Your care.
Once I fell You gave me Your Hand, and I had the strength to stand.
So when I lift my hands and a smile spreads throughout my face,
Know that I’m praising You for Your incredible, amazing Grace!
Oh, yes. I will stop to praise You!

Jesus, when was the last time I stopped to say “I love You?”
“You’re first in my life, there is no one above You?”
I love You because You first loved me.
There’s no debating after seeing Your sacrifice on Calvary.
You, the Son of God, the Son of Man,
Hung on a tree with thorns in Your head and nails in Your Hands;
Blood pouring down Your Face, pain running through Your body.
You went through all of this just for me?
A sinner who isn’t worth 2 cents?
A worm?
A slimball?
A wretch?
For me?
Knowing that it should have been me on that cross,
Pierced in both sides, having a worthless life to be lost –
You knew I should have been cast down into Hell with my soul burning in sufferage,
And yet You died in my place?
There was nothing I did to deserve Your Grace!
You shouldn’t have done it, didn’t have to do it,
BUT YOU DID!!!
I love You, Jesus!
If I didn’t say it before, I’ll say it now: I love You!

HALLELUJAH! BOOYIKA!

(c) July 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

Let’s Go

***This was written on July 19, 2014***
***This will be performed in Benjamin Isaiah Black’s FINALE: Curtain Call***

BRO. B.I.B.
Ever have that moment where everything feels all wrong?
You wake up one morning and your smile is gone?
At first you can’t explain it. “What’s going on here?”
But after delving inside, it becomes all too clear.

I can’t turn on anyone else if the problem’s in me.
Who can I blame if I’m the only one in this room, so empty?
I can’t take this anymore, this…discomfort in the air.
I’m afraid I can’t…I’m afraid I…I’m afraid. I’m scared.

In just a short while, I’ll be graduating.
That’s joyous, but I’m in no mood for celebrating.
How can I when I still have a whole life to look forward to?
Now comes the real responsibilities and all the work I have to do.

This is what I’ve been working hard for;
I’ve studied and labored so I can do and have more,
So I can showcase my talents for thousands – millions to see,
So I can praise God with the gifts that He has given me.

But…what if I can’t do it? What if I can’t succeed?
I don’t think people understand that I have a need
And a passion and desire to perform and create.
This is what God wanted me to do, this is why I was made.

If I’m not able to do it, how will I live?
What will I leave the world if I have nothing to give?
Creating and performing – that’s my life! That’s my dream!
I’ll die if I can’t do either one. What will life mean?

LEFT BRO. B.I.B.
Maybe I’m not good enough to accomplish such a feat.
I’m not smart or talented enough. I’m not strong enough, I’m weak.
Something will fail. Something will go awry.
I won’t be able to live with myself. I’m going to die.

BRO. B.I.B.
I’m not weak.
LEFT BRO. B.I.B.
Oh, really? What do you call it, then,
When you vow not to do something, but you do it again?
Or when you say you’ll be better at something, but you don’t put in enough effort?
I prefer the easy way out. I’m afraid to work.

I know I have to trust God, but this seems like a crutch,
Like God will always protect me, so I don’t have to work much.
And how do I know what God wants me to do? I can never hear His Voice.
How will I know whether or not I’m making the right choice?

But, really, how do I know whether or not I’ll be anything great?
Nothing about my current situation says that. Just the thought gives me a headache.
I’m not talented or good enough to stand out.
Better realize it now rather than try, fail, and pout.

What if no one likes me or what I have to bring?
What is no one knows my name, or my art becomes boring?
Is this the maximum of my potential for this life I’m in?
Thus us the life I’ll lead forever? This is all there is?

BRO. B.I.B.
Whenever I’d imagine what my future holds
I thought I’d be living large and happy, not sitting here alone
And scared like a coward, wondering what’s ahead.
How the crud am I supposed to smile when I have so much to dread?

RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
I’m not a coward. Don’t call me out my name.
I don’t need pity or sympathy, and don’t give me any shame.
This is just a common phase for people – feeling nervous, low, and poor.
These aren’t feelings no one else has ever felt before.

BRO. B.I.B.
But what if it’s not a phase? I don’t know what it’s really like out there!
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
I know one thing: God is with me, giving me His Love and care.
Why should I fear life’s curveballs and fast balls and twists, turns, and twirls
When “greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world?”

I’ve got all the Strength and Power I need to make it through the rough times.
BRO. B.I.B.
How can I begin to think I’m strong enough?
LEFT BRO. B.I.B.
That statement carried a lot of pride.
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
If I were talking up my own might, that’d be true;
But you do know I’m not talking about my own strength, don’t you?

Don’t forget about Jesus, what He does or who He is.
If the same God who got up from the grave rests in my heart and lives,
Who’s to say what I can or can’t do, what I can or can’t be?
It doesn’t matter who stands in my way, not even me.

BRO. B.I.B.
That’s not true. I could stand in my own way
And keep myself from hearing anything God has to say,
Or stop myself from growing with thoughts of doubt.
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
That’s right! Which is why that negative mentality has got to go out.

Jesus will bless you greatly – He doesn’t have any limitations.
He’ll take you farther than you ever thought possible, and bring you through hellish situations.
But you have to know and believe for no one else but you
What God is able to do.

BRO. B.I.B.
Well, He didn’t create me because He had nothing better to do.
He has a purpose for my life.
RIGHT BRO. B.I.B.
You know that to be true.
BRO. B.I.B.
I know it’s safe in here. Out there, it’s unpredictable and scary.
But “if God is for me, who can be against me?”

Jesus, I may not know what’s going to happen next,
But You carried me when I was going through before, and You’ll bring me through the rest.
May I never stray away from You, but may I constantly grow.
I’m ready for what You have for me. Let’s go.

(c) July 2014, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

My Top 10 Favorite Michael Jackson Videos

Michael Jackson Music Videos 00
It’s hard to say what makes a good music video. Often times, there are three different art mediums being used: music, dance, and film. Do one of these mediums out-shine the other two? Do all three of them work evenly together? While it may be hard to determine what exactly makes a good music video, I know that we all can agree that there’s no question when it comes to who makes an incredibly dynamic music video! That would be the trail blazer himself, the late and the great Michael Jackson!! Not only did Michael Jackson revolutionize the arts of singing, songwriting, music producing, and dancing, but he also redefined what a music video should be. It should be artistic. It can tell a story. It can be an experience. Bottom line: nobody can make a music video like Michael Jackson! Thus, I thought it’d be fun to list my top 10 favorite Michael Jackson music videos…and short films. As I do so, please keep this in mind: there are a TON of Michael Jackson music videos/short films. I love nearly all of them, but this is a list of the ones I love the most. Your favorite music video may not be on this list, and that’s OK. This list simply contains the top 10 Michael Jackson videos I love the most. With that being said, let the countdown begin!

Number 10: BAD (Martin Scorsese, 1987).

I should note that I am referring to the short version. I saw the extended version of Bad once, and it really didn’t leave that much of an impact on me. That’s not to say the extended film isn’t good, maybe I’d have to watch it again. But I love the music part. I think this is the first video Michael told us how tough he is. True, he stopped an entire gang fight in Beat It (Bob Giraldi, 1983), but in this song he tells us that he can whoop butt too! Why? Because he’s bad! This is the equivalent of Batman saying “Because I’m Batman!” Michael puts on such a persona here, and he’s so dedicated to it that you believe he’s the toughest man around! Not only that, but the choreography is amazing! It’s amazing what they’re able to do in that subway station! And all the dancers, especially Michael, move so flawlessly that you think you can move that swiftly too! One specific element I love in the video comes towards the end, when the chorus starts up again and Michael is dancing with one ensemble only to transition to the other choreography another ensemble is doing! (3:09-3:20) That is incredible! If anyone else tried to cover this song today, it’d come off as just silly. But when you hear Michael sing it, it’s just perfect. Why? Because he’s bad!
…He also gets bonus points for leading into an incredible Weird Al Yankovic parody! I’ll throw that in here too if you’ve never seen it.

Number 9: GHOST (Stan Winston, 1997).

I did not see this video until earlier this summer, and it amazed me! Likewise with Bad (Martin Scorsese, 1987), I’m referring only to the video, not the entire film. I haven’t seen the entire film yet, but judging by this video I really want to! It’s very reminiscent of Thriller (John Landis, 1983), in terms of its scary atmosphere and images. I was almost frightened when I first saw this video! So, in terms of film, this video is awesome. What about the other elements? Well, the music is awesome, too! That song is so incredible and so catchy it inevitably gets stuck in my head. I love singing that melody! Anytime it enters my mind, I have to sing it and imitate the choreography. Speaking of which, the choreography is awesome! Michael’s art and creativity are endless! How did he come up with such amazing material? My favorite part of the video, however, comes at 2:51 when Michael Jackson becomes a skeleton and dances! You read that right: there’s a dancing Michael Jackson skeleton in this video! It’s fan-frickin-tastic! Immediately after that, we see another person dancing like Michael Jackson. I thought this was amusing and even silly when I first saw it, but then I saw a piece of the extended version and it made me appreciate that moment 1,000 times more! Why? Look up the extended version to find out; you’ll need to look at the credits as well! Ghost delivers everything Michael Jackson videos have to offer: fantastic dance choreography, an awesome song, and amazing atmosphere and visuals we’d normally get in a movie! What else can I say? It’ll scare the pants off you, but you’ll have fun with the video along the way!

Number 8: SMOOTH CRIMINAL (Colin Chilvers, 1988).

I know most people are familiar with the version posted above, but my favorite version of this video is Michael’s version:

In this version, we can see the choreography and the dancers and the set even more, thus there is a greater enjoyment of the video. The song is good because it makes you want to dance every time you hear it and it’s catchy as all get out. However, I don’t know if this is one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs. It’s good, but what is he saying? If you were to hear this for the first time, you’d have to read along with the lyrics several times to understand what he’s saying. But the choreography and the style of the video are both unbelievable! This isn’t just highly trained dancers making complicated moves look easy. Here, you can see how complicated and detailed the dancing is, and you ask yourself “How in the world did they do it?!” How were they able to learn this difficult choreography? How in the world were they able to choreograph such difficult dancing? How was Chilvers able to capture all of this so brilliantly on film? It looks so good! And, of course, at the center is the King himself! Not only does Michael keep up his tough guy persona from Bad, but he proves that he can have style, class, and be smooth and slick with his toughness! There’s only one question I have after watching this: is Annie OK? She never answers…

Number 7: YOU ROCK MY WORLD (Paul Hunter, 2001).

I didn’t grow up watching Michael Jackson short films and music videos; I got into them when I was in high school. I say this because while many people were exposed to Michael Jackson’s incredible music videos through Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (Nick Saxton, 1979), Rock With You (Bruce Gowers, 1980), or Billie Jean (Steve Barron, 1983), THIS is one of the first Michael Jackson videos I saw, and THIS is one of the videos that made me fall in love with Michael Jackson’s videos! First, Chris Tucker’s here, and he being here with Michael is hilarious! Second, the music video/short film does not fail to give us exactly what we want: an awesome musical experience through the arts of dance and film. I was mesmerized by the song; I was captivated by the dancing; I was impressed by the style and look and tone of the film. It’s just an amazing film! I must admit, though, that I do make fun of this film sometimes for not being clear or sensible. For example, how come the main fighter kept saying “Is that all you got? You ain’t nothin'” if he didn’t even try to fight back? Michael knocks him out in one punch…who ain’t nothin’? Secondly, you wouldn’t understand the Marlon Brando cameo or dialogue if you’ve never seen The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972). I’ve never seen it, and someone had to tell me what his appearance was parodying. Fortunately, however, I’m able to get beyond that. I don’t watch Michael Jackson short films/music videos for plot structure, characters, and a good story…It’d help if all of that were there, but those aren’t the main focus of Michael Jackson videos. The focus is on the King of Pop himself, MJ! Listen to his vocals, look at his dancing, and look at the stylistic choices he made for this film! This is what he’s great at doing when it comes to making videos, and no one does it better than him…Throw in Chris Tucker, and we’re all set!

Number 6: EARTH SONG (Nicholas Brandt, 1995).

When I first got into listening to Michael Jackson’s music (again, during high school), this became one of my favorite songs. The video does not disappoint, but it doesn’t draw our attention with artistic filmmaking or impressive dance moves. The emphasis here is on the song itself and its message. I love that Michael Jackson is having a conversation with God, asking Him what’s happening to the world He created. Is MJ angry with God? Probably, but I don’t think he’s blaming Him for the destruction of the world. You see throughout the video that it is we who are destroying nature and the animals. MJ’s taking his frustration out on God, but he’s not accusing Him of anything. He knows the fault lies in us. I also love how the song begins peaceful and passive, but as it continues it only gets more angry and harsh. That’s how the video moves as well. As it continues, we get harsher clips of horrifying events against nature. From poor families and dead bodies to animals being slaughtered and destroyed forests, this video shows us what we as humans are doing to the world and where it’s headed. When was the last time you saw a sort-of cautionary tale in a music video? Well, Michael does it here excellently, and he throws all of his passion and energy into it. It’s an incredible video!

Number 5: LOVE NEVER FELT SO GOOD (Rich Lee and Justin Timberlake, 2014).

YES! I know this came out after he died! YES! I know it’s only a clip video of him in his other videos! YES! I know this song version does not include the Justin Timberlake remix. But not only do I prefer this song version over the Justin Timberlake one, but this video is just fantastic! Look at the editing! How long did they spend making sure these dance moves lined up perfectly to the music? How did they know which clips to use? Also, it’s a great homage to Michael Jackson! Keep in mind that when this song came out, we had gone nearly five years without him being here! This video practically celebrates him! Don’t think I’m worshipping him or I’m putting him on a pedestal, I’m not. I’m merely saying that we sort of get a piece of him here in this perfectly edited video of him and his art. Besides, when you hear “Michael Jackson video,” don’t you want to see Michael Jackson? No disrespect to Timberlake, but he sort of takes up space and focus away in the other version. This song and video version allow us to bond with the memory of our King of Pop! It’s so sweet, it’s kind of sad because you still can’t believe or accept that he’s gone! Look at everything he left us! It’s so rich, it’s so massive, it’s so impressive! But this video and the song allow us to love Michael like never before, and that feeling has never felt so good.

Number 4: MAN IN THE MIRROR (Donald Wilson, 1988).

Of course I had to include this video on the list! It’s not one of Michael Jackson’s most iconic songs for nothing! But what is it about this video that is so special? Why do so many people love it so much? It could be because it draws emphasis to the incredible song it’s based on. Like Earth Song (Nicholas Brandt, 1995), another message song, this video doesn’t catch our attention with eye-lusting visuals or unbelievable dance choreography. It’s focus is on the song and the message it’s trying to convey. What does that tell us? It’s as if Michael Jackson was saying, “There’s a time and place for you all to be wowed by my other skills, but this isn’t the time or place for that. I want you to get the message of this piece.” That doesn’t mean his other songs don’t have messages as well – all songs and videos have messages. But it seems as though Michael Jackson really wants us to understand and apply the message here. He doesn’t distract us with anything. In fact, he doesn’t even distract us with his appearance. We don’t see Michael Jackson at all in this video. It’s about the wars and the demonstrations of peace that are and have taken place throughout the world. Again, what does this tell us? That if we want the world to get better, we have to first better ourselves. Only then will the world end, and will we see peace flowing throughout the world. This is video art at its best. It’s very rare a pop star goes out of their way to promote such a strong message, but because of Michael Jackson’s desire for love and peace he didn’t even use any new video or film clips for this number. You can tell how serious the message is to him, thus why this song and video means so much to all of us.

Number 3: REMEMBER THE TIME (John Singleton, 1992).

As I mentioned earlier, there are three artistic mediums in music video: the song, the dance, and the film itself. In this video, and, really, in the top 3 videos on this list, all of these mediums are just fantastic! This short film features Eddie Murphy, Imani, and Magic Johnson! I love the set up in this film. The queen of Egypt wants to be entertained, and she kills everyone who can’t do the job. Really, she just wants to be loved. Did you see the look she gives Eddie Murphy after he accepts the drink from his servant? He’s probably having an affair, and she totally knows it. Of course she’s willing to get with Michael Jackson when he comes in. I love Magic’s side comments, they’re really funny. As I heard a fan say once, I’m glad this film reminds us that there are Black people in Egypt. I don’t know whether to thank Michael Jackson for that or John Singleton or both, but kudos to somebody! The choreography is just incredible! I can’t help but stop and look at it every time I watch this video! Again, this dance is so complex, yet they perform it so flawlessly. I would love to perform this someday…Or maybe I’ll just be comfortable watching it. It’s still awesome! Finally, the song itself is just so good! This is a song that will cause you to think back to the first time you fell in love with your lover. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s groovy, and it’s sweet. It’s one of Michael Jackson’s hits for a reason. This video is a gem that you surely won’t be forgetting!

Number 2: SCREAM (Mark Romanek, 1995).

I’ll just get it out now: Michael and Janet Jackson! That alone makes this worth watching. I’m surprised the world didn’t explode during the making of this video! Listening to these two sing together and watching them dance together is fantastic! Aside from that, the style and production of this video is just fantastic; it’s never been matched or duplicated. This is the most expensive music video ever made, costing $7 million! It’s incredible, it’s an experience, and it is simply wonderful! There’s not much else to say except this video with make you scream in amazement!

Before we get to Number 1, how about some honorable mentions:
1) Billie Jean (Steve Barron, 1983).

Why the crud doesn’t the ground light up when I walk on it?
2) Beat It (Bob Giraldi, 1983).

If we could get all gangs to come together through sing and dance numbers, we wouldn’t have to worry about ISIS or any Missouri crimes. Shout out to Weird Al’s parody of this song as well!

3) They Don’t Really Care About Us (Spike Lee, 1996).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNJL6nfu__Q & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1pqi8vjTLY
The song and the videos say it all.

As we all know, there are many, many more!

And my Number 1 favorite Michael Jackson music video is:

THRILLER (John Landis, 1983).

I’m sure many of you were expecting this, but can you blame me? This is one of the greatest, if not the greatest music video/short film of all time! This was the game changer! This made every music artist want to change their approach to the arts of song producing and music video-making. This made every fan stand up and realize Michael Jackson for the trail blazer he is. A beautiful send-up to horror films, this short film masters everything you’d want to see in a music video nowadays. It’s based on a great song, it has memorable and fantastic choreography, and the filming is just genius! Think of your favorite music videos that have come out within the past couple of years; they all owe their thanks to this film! Typically, people are able to think of their favorite moments in a movie, not a music video. But here, people can name tons of favorite moments: the zombies coming out of the cemetery, everyone ganging up on Ola (the leading lady), Michael saying “I’m not like other guys,” and, of course, that incredible dance number! Anytime people hear this song, they don’t even wait for the chorus – they just begin moving and dancing. I can’t give this film justice; it’s one of those things you have to see to understand why this video/short film is so loved all over the world. It’s a thriller you’ll be glad you experienced.

What do you think of my list? What are your favorite Michael Jackson videos or songs, or dances? Leave a comment and let me know. And remember, “I’m bad!”

Michael Jackson - We Are the World

See Me As I Am

***This was written on July 22, 2013***
***Delivered at YEPAW 2013***

“I have a dream where my four little children will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!”
–Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A dream that was envisioned nearly 50 years ago.
How close are we ‘til that dream becomes reality? I don’t know.
In a world where I’m constantly judged, constantly profiled,
The thought of complete equality makes my mind run wild.
Is it really that hard for you to accept me as your brother?
But since your mother didn’t cover me, you just treat me as another –
Another ordinary guy, no one special to discover.
God, I’m so grateful You’re not like man:
People look at the surface only, but You see me just as I am.
Not as a statistic, or one who’s attention craving,
But You see me as a soul in need of saving.
You didn’t let me wander off, but You captured me.
You’re changing me, rearranging me, and I’ll be in the Rapture with The.
You don’t see my outward appearance, You look at my heart
While others try so hard to keep me apart.
Thanks for hearing this art.

(c) July 2013, B.I.B. Productions
(P) BOOYIKA!, Inc.

YEPAW

YEPAW
Hello family!

In reading my past poems and journal entries, you saw I mentioned an organization called YEPAW (Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop). My family and I just got done participating in the 25th year of YEPAW last week! So, what is YEPAW? Is it really that great that I would keep mentioning it? Well, I’ll tell you…

LPB
Over twenty-five years ago, a wonderful woman, Minister Leslie Parker Barnes, became tired and frustrated hearing people tell her “The youth are a hopeless generation.” She knew this statement was false, and thus she set out to prove it. For one week in the summer of 1990, Min. Barnes gathered some teenagers in the basement of the Arlington Church of God (in Akron, Ohio) and taught them a number of songs that they’d perform in a concert at the end of the week. This group became known as the Youth Excellence Gospel Choir. The idea behind this was if young people can learn how to discipline themselves and learn a number of songs in a short amount of time, they could do anything they set their minds to. In 1998, the Youth Excellence Gospel Choir became the Youth Excellence Performing Arts Workshop, or YEPAW (pronounced “yee-paw”). They weren’t just limited to the basement of the Arlington Church of God anymore – they moved to the campus of the University of Akron. The young participants weren’t just learning songs anymore, either. Now there were classes being offered: drama, creative writing, vocal clinic, orchestra, mime, visual art, video, photography, standard and advanced dance, standard and advanced step, standard and advanced drumline, piano, newsletter, banner praise, extemporaneous speaking, song writing, etc. In 2005, YEPAW began recording all of their songs onto CDs. The young participants were given the challenge of learning 10-14 songs in 3 or 4 days, ready to record them on a CD in the middle of the week! Over the years, YEPAW received more and more participants; in 2006, over 500 young people had registered for YEPAW!
YEPAW - CD

YEPAW 365
Oh, but it didn’t stop there! The participants voiced their thoughts and feelings about YEPAW lasting longer than a week. Because of this, YEPAW created it year-round leadership program, YEPAW 365, in the fall of 2007. This program, that accepts 50 young people from the 7th to the 12th grades, meets every Monday and listen to speakers talk to them about excellence and living out their dreams. YEPAW has held many fundraisers, hosting concerts and performances by the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, a production of God’s Trombones, and they performed The Wiz twice! In the fall of 2010, YEPAW launched a new program, the YEPAW Institute. The YEPAW Institute, which, sadly, I wasn’t able to be apart of, helps trains those who want to be artists. Singers, musicians, dancers, visual artists – it helps them all. And in the summer of 2013, YEPAW launched its new program, WEPAW, “YEPAW for the ‘wittle’ ones.” This program aids young people between the ages of 4-11. They take drum/rhythm class, choir, and dance class.

YEPAW - DREAM
YEPAW wants young people to know that they can achieve anything and everything, no matter what it is. In 2003, YEPAW introduced the DREAM. YEPAW wanted young people to live out and apply the DREAM:
D – Dare to be your best. Anybody can be mediocre, but challenge yourself to be the best you can be in everything you do!
R – Respect others, Respect yourself. I can tell how much you respect yourself based on how well you respect other people.
E - Make Excellence the center of your character.
A – Attitude is everything. You can be the cutest, most talented person in the room, and your sorry attitude will close the doors of opportunities.
And finally,
M – It’s a Double M! Make sure you Master at least one thing. Maybe you can’t sing, but you are so quick to figure out a math problem. Master one thing, and do it so well that you can Minister it, give it away and teach it to someone else.
Since then, we’ve strived to live out the DREAM in so many ways: in 2004, we set out to BELIEVE the DREAM; in 2005 we wanted to PURSUE the DREAM. Then we had to CATCH the DREAM, CHERISH the DREAM, CHOOSE the DREAM, Live the DREAM, Know the DREAM, Experience the DREAM, Discover the DREAM, Capture the DREAM, and this year we wanted to Love the DREAM.

24- Closing Concert, July 2010
My older brother Bryon and I began YEPAW together in 2004, YEPAW’s 15th year. I was 12 years old. I had no idea what to expect – I didn’t know what YEPAW was or what it stood for. This organization taught me what excellence is, to outdo and surpass, to always be your best. I never thought about being excellent before. I had a dream, but I didn’t consider being excellent with it. YEPAW taught me what that meant and how to do it. YEPAW also taught me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. It let me know that I can make a difference; I can be excellent for God and give Him my everything; I can have a positive effect on the people around me; I can be a leader. YEPAW has poured so much into me and my family over the years, and it is so very special to me! If it weren’t for YEPAW, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I would have stopped dreaming years ago. I’d be working just enough to get by, but I wouldn’t be working as hard as I could. My family and I owe a great debt to YEPAW, as do all of the participants, instructors, volunteers, guests, staff, and board members who have ever been apart of YEPAW.

If this seems interesting to you at all, even the slightest, I strongly encourage you to look up YEPAW. Log on to their website, http://www.yepaw.org, and get more information. If you know a young person between the ages of 12-21 who you think would benefit greatly from this incredible and life changing ministry, sign them up for next year! You don’t have to live in Akron, Ohio to participate in YEPAW – folks from Chicago, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., and even Texas have come to YEPAW. They can spend the week in the dorms at the University of Akron. Trust me, it is worth it! Min. Barnes has gone on the record of saying many times, “Send me your young people, and I’ll send them back to you better!” Why? Because YEPAW challenges young people. There are no games and tricks or tactics of deceit. YEPAW goes out of its way to prove, not only that it cares about all young people and it wants to celebrate them and save their lives, but also that they are not hopeless! Log on to the website, do a Google search of YEPAW, watch some videos on YouTube – make yourself aware of what it is! As time passes, YEPAW only gets bigger and better, and you and your young people need to be apart of it now! I guarantee you’ll be blessed! God bless you all, and I love you! BOOYIKA!
YEPAW Concert

I Haven’t Thanked You Yet!

Hello family!

I’m almost caught up posting my poems and creative writings onto this site, and so I wanted to stop for a moment and say thank you! There was a period earlier this summer when I began questioning my purpose and my talents. I was concerned about the future, and I didn’t think I was very good at my craft. My brother Bryon had experienced great success with his site and posts, and so I thought I’d create one to provide an outlet for me as well. Of course, it went very slow at first. No one was reading anything, and, again, I started wondering if I was a good writer and artist. I did get a bit discouraged. One day, however, the thought came to my mind, Upload your poems. I did, and suddenly I had an audience. The more I uploaded, the more my work was being read. I will admit, I am insecure, but this did give me hope.

I didn’t want to become cocky or prideful over this. My hope and prayer is that you not only enjoyed my works, but that you were blessed by them and God spoke to you through these pieces. I do have to thank you, though, for letting me know that my writings are being enjoyed. At the beginning of the month, I had maybe 2 people reading my work; now, I have over 50. I just want you all to know that I appreciate it – I appreciate you so very much! Thank you for reading, thank you for liking, thank you for commenting, and thank you for supporting. Thank you for letting me know that I can pursue this gift and talent God has given me. I can’t tell you how much it means to me!

Know that more posts and poems are coming, and I can’t wait for you all to see them. And know that I look forward to reading what you all have posted on your sites as well; I haven’t had time yet, but I will look at your work! We are family, and we will support one another. Thank you are two words I can never say enough. It’s not that I have a lot of people reading my work (although, that is nice) – it’s that you’re encouraging me to keep writing, and that I am good at this talent God gave me. Thank you for the encouragement and the support! I love you all so much, and you mean a lot to me! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!