Michael Jackson’s beloved album Bad turns 25 this fall, and to celebrate, Sony has unleashed a box set with a remastered version of the album plus some never before released tracks to convince us to shell out $35 for a slightly different “Smooth Criminal”. And goody, one of those extra songs is a Christianity-heavy screed chastising a woman for choosing abortion instead of giving the narrator the child he is entitled to. Jesse Taylor at Wonkette first pointed me toward the tune ”Song Groove (A/K/A Abortion Papers)” which includes the lyrics:
Those abortion papers Signed in your name against the words of God Those abortion papers Think about life, I’d like to have my child
In case you weren’t sure the woman is a bad lady, MJ also mentions that she’s an atheist. Hey, we all judged Jackson for his, at best, incredibly inappropriate relationships with pre-pubescent children, so I guess he gets to judge the rest of us right back for having consensual sex with age-appropriate partners without feeling obligated to go through with every accidental pregnancy.
The tune is catchy (though not quite as good as that other horribly misogynist song “Dirty Diana“), and it’s good that the curators of this box set thought to include it. Jackson’s ‘80s music has a timelessness to it that can cause the listener to disassociate it from the era it came out of. But these lyrics have a goofy mix of religiosity and anxiety about women’s liberation that immediately invoke a time when the term “Moral Majority” meant something and the idea of advertising condoms on television seemed beyond the pale. The “hey lady, give me my baby” lyrics instantly put the listener’s mind back to those bygone years, when sexist responses to feminism in pop culture really didn’t have quite the same subtlety that they do now.