Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us


Michael Jackson performing They Don't Care About Us
Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us
Song: They Don't Care About Us
Artist: Michael Jackson
Album: HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I
Recorded: 1994–June 1995 June 23, 1995 (re-recorded Censored Version)
Released: March 31, 1996
Length: 4:44 (album Version) 4:45 (single Version) 4:11 (LP Edit)
Label: Epic
SongWriter(s): Michael Jackson
Producer: Michael Jackson

Producing the first video proved to be a difficult task for Jackson. State authorities unsuccessfully tried to ban the singer filming in Salvador (Pelourinho) and in Rio de Janeiro. Officials in the state of Rio feared images of poverty might affect tourism and accused Jackson of exploiting the poor. Ronaldo Cezar Coelho, the state secretary for Industry, Commerce and Tourism demanded editing rights over the finished product, stating, "I don't see why we should have to facilitate films that will contribute nothing to all our efforts to rehabilitate Rio's image". Some were concerned that scenes of poverty and human rights abuses would affect their chances of hosting the Olympics in 2004. Others supported Jackson's wish to highlight the problems of the region, arguing that the government were embarrassed by their own failings.

A judge banned all filming but this ruling was overturned by an injunction. Although officials were angry, the residents were not and Jackson was surrounded by crowds of enthusiastic onlookers during filming. One woman managed to push through security to hug Jackson who continued dancing while hugging her. Another woman appeared and hugged him from behind. He then fell to the ground as police pulled the two women off him and escorted them away. After the director helped Jackson get up off the street, he continued to sing and dance. This incident made it into the music video. 1,500 policemen and 50 residents acting as security guards effectively sealed off the Dona Marta favela. Some residents and officials found it offensive that Jackson's production team had negotiated with drug dealers in order to gain permission to film in one of the city's shantytowns.

The music video was directed by Spike Lee. Asked why he chose Lee to direct the video, Jackson responded, "'They Don't Care About Us' has an edge, and Spike Lee had approached me. It's a public awareness song and that's what he is all about. It's a protest kind of song ... and I think he was perfect for it".

Jackson also collaborated with 200 members of the cultural group Olodum, who "swayed to the heavy beat of Salvador's 'samba-reggae' music". The media interest surrounding the music video exposed Olodum to 140 countries around the world. It brought them worldwide fame and increased their credibility in Brazil. At the beginning of the video, a Brazilian woman says "Michael, eles não ligam pra gente" which means "Michael, they don't care about us".

Precarious houses in the favela of Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro. Identical scenes are viewable in the first music video.
Speaking of the music video, in The New Brazilian Cinema, Lúcia Nagib observed:

When Michael Jackson decided to shoot his new music video in a favela of Rio de Janeiro ... he used the favela people as extras in a visual super-spectacle ... All the while there is a vaguely political appeal in there ... The interesting aspect of Michael Jackson's strategy is the efficiency with which it gives visibility to poverty and social problems in countries like Brazil without resorting to traditional political discourse. The problematic aspect is that it does not entail a real intervention in that poverty.

In 2009, Billboard described the area as "now a model for social development" and claimed that Jackson's influence was partially responsible for this improvement.

For the first time in his career, Jackson made a second music video for a single. This second version was filmed in a prison with cell mates; in the video Jackson is seen handcuffed. It also contains real footage of police attacking African Americans, the military crackdown of the protest in the Tiananmen Square, the Ku Klux Klan, war crimes, genocide, execution, martial law, and other human rights abuses.

The first music video of the song appears on the box set Visionary: The Video Singles, and the video albums HIStory on Film, Volume II and Vision; the latter additionally includes the prison version.

The voice intro, "Michael, Michael, eles não ligam pra gente" (Portuguese for "they don't care about us"), was recorded by Angélica Vieira, producer of Manhattan Connection.

Full Wikipedia Article =>> They Don't Care About Us


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