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“Janet Jackson”: her story, her terms

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Even Janet Jackson’s worldwide career shows the sexism and double standards of the music industry. A new documentary only partially does justice to the musician’s influence.

Janet Jackson performing in Bilbao in 2018 © Stuart C. Wilson/​Getty Images

Control is a big problem in life Janet Jackson. So big that she named an entire album after her. Control made the singer-songwriter a superstar in 1986, and to date the record has sold more than ten million copies. Personally and professionally, though, Jackson always struggled with the fact that others — especially men, of course — wanted to set the direction of his life and career for him. So it’s no wonder the now 55-year-old wanted to pull the strings herself when it came to documenting her work. Janet Jackson is a four-part series about Janet Jackson, produced by Janet Jackson.

It was long overdue for someone to become acquainted with his life and work, despite the fact that Jackson, even during his most successful eras in the 1980s and ’90s, was always overshadowed by even bigger pop stars. First it was Madonna, who grabbed more headlines with her provocative and polarizing personality, then came Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, whose voices sounded even more impressive. And above all, of course, Jackson’s older brother, Michael, was always on the throne. King of Pop remained untouched.

From achievements and milestones you can Janet Jackson say anyway. More than 160 million records sold, ten number one hits in the United States alone, an Oscar nomination and two record contracts, which at the time of signing were considered the highest of all time. for your album Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989), Jackson became the first woman to be nominated for a Grammy in the Producer of the Year category. The influence of this particular record extends far beyond the borders of R’n’B to this day. He’s heard about artists as diverse as Beyoncé and Sufjan Stevens, and has even made Jackson a hipster favorite in recent years.

As the youngest of Jackson’s ten children, Janet was simply too late to be involved in the family’s pop business early on. Michael and four of his brothers were already being hailed as a boy band and the future of the Motown record label in the late 1960s, while Janet was still in its infancy. However, the British director Benjamin Hirsch did not even try to tell her story outside the family context. The Jackson clan is the focus of his documentary well into the second episode. Only then is it Control and increasingly for control as Janet seeks to emancipate herself from her father Joe’s influence in the mid-1980s. Michael Jackson’s child abuse lawsuits and his once again overwhelming death in 2009 show just how difficult it will be. escape from the shadow of his own family later on.

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