This music video for Michael Jackson’s song “They don’t care about us”, was released in 1996. Jackson went to Brazil to record the clip, which takes place in poor and working-class neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia. The song deals with the social injustices experienced by oppressed people. A second music video was released set in a fictional prison interlaced with footage of human rights abuses from around the world. While producing the video in Brazil, state authorities tried to ban the singer from filming, fearing that the images of poverty might affect tourism – especially as they had recently bid to become a host city for the 2004 Olympics.
Who do we see in this music video? What are they doing?
Who is Jackson referring to when he sings “They don’t care about us”? Who is “They” and who is “Us”?
Why do you think the Brazilian government responded so badly to the setting of Rio de Janeiro’s favela? Given the many controversies that emerged around the destruction of favelas for the 2016 Olympics do you think Jackson was right to record there?
Michael Jackson was a prolific and celebrated artist until his death in 2009. However, accusations of pedophilia, which surfaced as early as 1993 and continued posthumously–especially with the release of the 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland, surrounded him. Do you think artists, like Jackson, can still be celebrated for their artistry despite criminal activities? Does art stand on its own–separate from the artist’s deeds? Why? Why not?