Across The Aisle #4: Melanin (and) Manipulation: The Jackson Legacy

WARNING: Across the Aisle features a weekly helping of extraordinary, yet exploratory, writing, gratuitous pop culture abuse, and complimentary Funyons. Due to our conscious decision to explore familiar themes in an inimitable, though inherently divisive, manner, such brilliance is solely intended for mature reading audiences. This is Hive Mind 101. That glorious moment when Wonder Twin powers activate. Jay Connor. Alex Hardy. The triumphant return of Voltron. These ain’t no studio tricks. Enjoy.

Episode 04
Melanin (and) Manipulation: The Jackson Legacy

Alex Hardy: Many have tried and few have succeeded in lining their pockets by aligning their destinies with the legacy born of those birthed by Katherine “Deity of Deaconess Swag” and Joe “I Beat You Because I Love You” Jackson. It’s hard out here for those of us not born as an Obama, or as a Jackson, Rowland, Knowles, Baldwin, Huxtable, Jefferson, or a Hilton. It is, sadly, up to us to leave our mark in this cruel R. Kelly-loving world by either sucking, fucking, and hand jiving our way to the top, or suing the assless chaps off of those who have won the birth lottery by parachuting out of a diamond-encrusted birth canal versus a regular ol’ linoleum-tiled birth canal with plaid wallpaper. That, or claim someone famous as your Daddy as the next act in your piss poor lifelong impersonation. Oh hey, Brandon Howard. Didn’t see you standing there.

Jay Connor: I can only hope and pray that my sperm is as prosperous as Papa Joe’s. Marlon’s moustache aside, he hit the gene pool jackpot. Ahhh... the homogenized harmonies of child exploitation. I can’t wait to circumvent Child Labor Laws and beat the Swiss bank accounts out of my own progenies. I had a wonderful childhood, bereft of public ridicule and abuse, and what do I have to show for it besides divorced parents and an unhealthy obsession with Myra Monkhouse? Bring on the rhinoplasties. Bring on the Jason Weaver reenactments. Hell, even Tito’s ubiquitous bowler hat is invited to the party. If the gateway to gold is a flogged ass, then guess who’s taking one for the team? Nothing some tears, therapy and Vitiligo can’t fix. Besides, we can always negotiate a formal apology later. Have your people call my people.

AH: You mean “vitiligo.” Hopefully, the royalties from the international distribution rights to the DVD of your life story, directed by Spike Lee OR Debbie Allen, would make all those years of therapy and belt buckles to the face worthwhile.

From whence all Jacksons sprang forth
JC: Remorse is for the weak. Money fixes everything but ugly feet. But on some real shit, you have to commend Katherine and Papa Joe’s allegiance to the cause. Pregnancy scares are like virginity, there’s only so many one man can take, but Papa Joe went to bed every night with a safety harness and an undying voracity for child support. That nigga had Jedi focus, cuz that alien baby damn sure didn’t make itself. It was either Joseph Walter or Krypton. If Katherine was smart, she’d freeze what’s left of her eggs and flip them shits on eBay. Could you imagine a world in which they threw in the towel after little big head ass Toriano Adaryll? Who would’ve recorded this masterpiece? Who would’ve been adopted by Willona? And most importantly, how the hell would Bubbles get around? The time-space continuum is eternally grateful for Katherine’s uterus.

AH: Anyone who passes through Katherine’s womb is fortunate enough to stew in a crockpot of good genes, bay leaves, glitter, hair gel, rhythm, and magic for nine months. Each Jackson offspring is predisposed to be better than other living creatures and has a 98% chance of being facially fortunate. Downside: Statistically, you are guaranteed a life of sibling comparisons and attempts at “normalizing” yourself. Is that life worth having to deal with a man who can swim, climb trees, and assemble furniture with a belt in his hand? I’d say FUCK YES. What would our lives be about if there were no Off The Wall?!? Would Justin Timberlake, having no disco-pop musical bible as the wind beneath his honky tonky wings, be a waiter at Joe’s Crab Shack in 2014? Would I be the man I am today if La Toya never dropped Camp Kutchi Kaiai with baby Janet on the hook?!? I don’t dare imagine such an existence. *weeps at the thought*

JC: And to think, had The Thriller Maker™ not escaped Narnia, we wouldn’t be able to tell the Jacksons from El’s underlings in a police lineup. Only so much sugar can be culled from shit and the great St. Damita Jo would’ve been too young to reverse course and turn the genetic tides.  Will and Jada are pummeling the panic button as we speak.  

AH: Well, luckily, Joe’s tough love-infused brand of “character building” wasn’t all for naught. Who’s your favorite among The Not Michaels?

Hard Living. 
JC: Gotta be Jermaine. Outside of Siohvaughn Wade, has there ever been anyone so hopelessly devoted to derailing their gravy train? Is it that hard to knock down wide open treys while The Thriller Maker™ enjoys another fifty point explosion?  It takes a special kind of wonderful to rise above such wretched skin texture and ether your breadwinner. Sure, brothers bark on each other and throw hands, but “Once you were made you changed your shade” is one noogie that should’ve been tested for performance enhancing drugs. Then there’s that whole Hazel Gordy debacle, in which Leatherface mistook “bros before hoes” for an April Fool’s prank and begat a fruitful career as an Emergency Broadcast System transmission. And as if that wasn’t enough shit in the pool, nothing makes Thanksgiving more harmonious than knocking up your little brother’s ex-wife, because what’s life without brother-cousins and step-nephews? Beneath that tragic flat top is a God amongst men, a real American hero. Respect fucking due. And yours?

AH: Aside from Saint Damita Jo, The Alpha And the Omega, I’m going to have to go with House Mother Madame La Toya Yvonne Jackson, The Great. More fascinating gobsmacking than an Ice JJ Fish MTV Unplugged concert featuring a post-Marley Dick Lauryn Hill. Nuttier than Diddy’s rectum. La Toya is THE Looney Tune and I can’t look away. Now, granted, she has gone through hell along with the other humans who simmered in Katherine’s Glory Box. She escaped abuse at the hands of a mind-controlling, life-ruining husband and made her Playboy cover work for her in the end. Toy has dominated the industry been better than everyone known for almost five decades and will go down in history is known among peers and music historians her fans as the Duchess of Dance and the Pope of Pop. Yeah. I don’t fucking know, either. But does Michael have his own shake at Millions of Milkshakes? Does Damita Jo have an “Outstanding Song Award” from the 1985 World Popular Song Awards in Tokyo? Was Rebbie able to drop an average of one music video every 6.5 years AND nine albums, none of which sold over 500,000 copies? Didn’t think so.

JC: La Toya’s crowning achievement (no pun intended) was her headband. In a decade riddled with neon spandex, Rick Astley, and boomboxes moonlighting as shoulder pads, La Toya defied the odds and made the ultimate fashion statement with her umbilical cord. In fact, had Mrs. Jack Gordon shared her world renowned fashion tips with The Thriller Maker™ beforehand, Pepsi’s assassination attempt on his life would’ve concluded with a celebratory round of rhinoplasty instead of a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, this was happening.

AH: Randy Jackson & The Gypsys. Wow. I vaguely remember a block of videos on MTV before Poetic Justice came out with videos from Rhythm Nation 1814, Dangerous, whatever La Toya did in the late 1980s….and Randy’s video, which I heard was eventually stuffed into a small rocket and launched into outer space with Judy Winslow never to be seen again. It appears that the pool of Jackson boychild talent dried up after Michael Joseph Jackson parachuted out of Narnia. As such, he’s the Black, bepenised Jan Brady: he's eternally referred to as the sibling of someone with more profitable reproductive organs and his artistic achievements can be packed into a 30-second award show montage with 21 seconds to spare. Thanks for reminding me that this (and he) exists in the universe.

JC: Don’t thank me, thank Norton Anti-Virus. But speaking of Poetic Justice, why exactly do we hold the great St. Damita Jo in such high regard again? I mean, sure. Anyone who forces Humpty Hump’s towel boy to take an AIDS test deserves a national holiday, but kindly remove Tina Landon, the chair we all wanted to be when we grew up, the Cleo Hewitt blunder years, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis from the equation and what’s left? Dream Street? The misadventures of Denise Gaines? And before you respond, allow me to lay my ace on the table: But Jermaine Dupri!

AH: Yes, The Jermaine Era is still a shock to me. But if he was able to help her heal whatever wounds that Rico Suave man inflicted, then I guess I’m still repulsed at the thought just the same that’s fine. Look. Taking away those things would still leave Janet, but I appreciate her for being a super sized combo of BetterThanTheOthers with a side of ThankYouForProvidingAnAlternativeToLaToya. With a little toy buttplug, if ya nasty. I’m a visual motherfucker. And a dancer at heart. Most of my favorite songs and albums evoke a physical reaction and get my hips and neck all herky jerky and such. And, nigger, aside from being generally enjoyable, I have dope memories aligned with all of her projects. And her music (oh, and Michael’s if you insist) motivated a few generations of dancers, myself included, and will for the next 41 seasons of Extreme Makeover: Kimberly Jones’ Face Edition. And she’s prettier than everyone. And. And. And. Plus, you can only run “Centipede” back so many times before you wonder if the lyrics were brought to you by the letters C-O-K-E.

JC: First and foremost, “Centipede” was the knock. Captain EO might be a lot of things; Jesus Juice enthusiast, Elizabeth Taylor’s baby momma, but a cokehead he was not. Instead of maligned, such charitable donations should be lauded. After all, what was “Triumph” sans “This Place Hotel”? And how soon we forget that whole Victory Tour was merely a subsidized  stimulus package to keep the Other Brothers Jackson from soiling their jheri curls dumpster diving. The Thriller Maker™ is the way, the truth, and the life. That said, I suppose the great St. Damita Jo does have some redeeming qualities. Case in point, was that “Alright” video even remotely close to fair? It was the perfect union between visual translation, Anthony Thomas, song and scalpel. But with the bar raised so high, I’m gonna need these Jackson kids to at least pretend to give a fuck about self-defense carrying the torch. If the second generation of Wayans can collectively muster an “E” for effort, I expect more out of Prince Michael, Blanket and that Paris person. I don’t give a shit how old they are, last time I checked The Thriller Maker™ moonwalked out the womb. And since Taj, Taryll, and TJ already struck out at the plate, that cross ain’t gonna carry itself. So hurry the fuck up already.

The Yet To Profits
AH: Yeah, this second generation of bright-skinned Michaelites is obviously suffering from a lack of contact with the heavy-handed backhand love taps upside the head with a pool stick of Grandpa Joe Boxer. No singles, yet? Not even a damn oobie doo wop bop on a The Second Coming: Jackson Progeny Salute Their Meal Tickets compilation album? Is Paris ‘bout to drop her Dream Street? If not, why not?!? They need to get their shit together and at LEAST book a gig as a bescandled politician’s child on The Olivia Pope Dramatic Reaction Hour. And since Michael’s Official, Recognized Offspring Tally was recently demoted from “Three and a Possible” to “Just the [Three] of Us,” a bit of panic about Miniature Jacksons under 40 and their ability to do something other than mooch is in order. [Plot Twist] Damn. No drug busts or divorces? The fuck are y’all waiting for? There’s a legacy to uphold. Shit.

JC: I’m officially in my feelings. These kids are about as useful as Lisa Marie Presley. Hell, even Ryan White made a name for himself and he only had three t-cells. All that to say, the Jackson family’s legacy is unparalleled. Hundreds of millions of records sold, thousands of ass beatings, hundreds of music awards and nominations, fifty years of Soundscan ubiquity, dozens of cosmetic surgeons, four innocent bystanders, a few forays into television, “2300 Jackson Street”, an auspicious Carlton Banks appearance, and zero vasectomies. Good look trumping that resume in a group interview. All hail Papa Joe and the divinity that is Katherine’s uterus. May the great St. Damita Jo’s ovaries be equally as prosperous.

Catch up on all Across The Aisle entries here.
A million thanks to my partner in crime:

Jay Connor is a prized pupil of the esteemed Professor Xavier and a Los Angeles based freelance writer. When he’s not preoccupied with accruing overdraft fees while chasing the dream, he can be found disseminating terrorist threats on Twitter and  on Facebook. Direct all business inquiries, sexual innuendo and Nigerian email scams to

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