Brow Beat

A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated

The latest episode of PBS’s fun animated interview series Blank on Blank captures a young Michael Jackson just as he emerged into solo superstardom. Recorded in 1980, a few months after the release of Off the Wall, the interview finds Jackson discussing his own perfectionism, his feelings about being labeled “disco,” and the time he says he recorded “Ben” in one take.

The interview might not provide any grand revelations to long-time fans (in a 2010 blog post chronicling the entire experience, interviewer John Pidgeon remembered Jackson’s answers as “consistently unilluminating”), but its appeal is just as much in the bizarre form the interview took: Pidgeon was asked to direct all of his questions through Michael’s 13-year-old sister Janet, who then repeated them to her older brother. With the help of the always-great animation of Patrick Smith, the video gives a great sense of what it might have been like to be in that room.