Interview With Middle-Eastern Children
July 1996 (probably in Casablanca, Morocco)
Below is a transcript of a videotaped interview of Michael answering questions from a group of children, ages 7 to 12 years old. The interview took place in the middle-east, probably Casablanca or Tunisia, in 1996. Most questions were posed to him in Arabic, so the transcript shows the subject of the questions, rather than an actual quote. Michael’s answers are English, with Arabic subtitles shown on screen, and his answers are transcribed here word-for-word.
For the majority of the interview, Michael is the only person shown on camera, answering questions. There is also a part where he stands in front of the group of children, some of them ask him questions in English.
During the interview, Michael sits on a white couch, dressed in a black and red baseball jacket, black hat, hardly any make up, no sunglasses, no mask. Michael appears very relaxed and ‘talks’ with his hands, his gestures underlining what he is expressing. His face is also very expressive.
Question = Children’s’ Questions
Michael = Michael Jackson
Question: about musical influences
Michael: I have been influenced by, uh, pretty much by cultural music from all over the world. I have studied personally all kinds of music, you know, from Africa to India, to Chinese, Japanese, music is music and it is all beautiful. So, I am influenced by all of those different cultures.
Question: about racism
Michael: It is cruelty, it╢s ugly and I hate it. You are my brother (points out to the children). They are my brothers. If you are black, white, Arab…. we are all the same. I love all races equally.
[Michael now stands in front of the group. Has taken off his coat and hat. Dressed in black shirt and jeans. His hairdo looks like the hair in the TDCAU video shot in Brazil.]
Question: A girl about 11 or 12 years old asks a question but only the word “Arabs” is audible.
Michael: Is it true that I WHAT?
Question [girl]: That you do not like Arabs?
Michael: No that╢s not true at all. I love Arabs, I love ALL people of the world. That╢s a good example now of people make up stories that are not true.
[A little boy in the group, about 7 years old , introduces himself by his name and says that he is from Egypt. ]
Question [boy]: Would you ever do a concert in Egypt?
Michael: I love to do a concert in Egypt. I would love the next tour to go to all of your cities. I have only been there at the airport, but it looks like they are wonderful people. (Michael gives a big smile and points his arm to the group of kids) All of you are wonderful people. I am happy to be here.
[Michael sits on the sofa again, hat and baseball jacket back on.]
Question: about family wishes.
Michael: I am a very family oriented person and I come from a family of ten children (see note at end of transcript), so I am very used to a family, you know…. surrounding, to come around you as a unity. So I don╢t think I can live without that bond. So I would love to have a major…… (Huge smile from ear to ear) a huge family. I╢d say a total of twelve…. (bigger smile) .. My aunt had 13 children, I have an uncle who had 12 children, and my father had 10 children, and so eh.. I looove big…… everywhere…
[Note: Michael is one of 9 Jackson children that are living. The 10th child was Marlon’s twin brother, who died in infancy.]
Question: about his audiences.
Michael: I can… You can feel the audience. It is love we are talking about. Ooh, you can definitely feel them, that… You hear them, they are swaying and screaming and fainting, the reactions are always lovely….
Question: About creating music (possibly asked about collaborating with others).
Michael: A thought, it is an embryo of a thought, of an idea. It is a brief concept. And then you collaborate with someone. Could be a writer. I say, I want to do this, I want to do that, and I want to do this. You tell him to develop it, because you….. I cannot do it right now, because I got to go on to the next song, the next thing. So they╢ll come up with something, working with their ideas and they╢ll come with them back to me … you go [to see] whether you like it or not. I mean I have done that with pretty much everything that I have done. I am usually there for the concept for the writing. I co-write usually all my pieces that I do.
Question: it is not clear what the question was.
Michael: The Garden of Eden was probably in Africa, I am pretty sure. And the people could not have been nicer. (he refers to his visit to South Africa in July 1996 where he attended Mandela╢s birthday). And I loved it. I loooooved it. And the music, ooooh, and the rhythm [he looks like he is in awe]. Seeing petty little kids with the perfect rhythm and .. the way they moved their little bodies. [Michael imitates their dance movements with his arms and shoulders]. I was just….Oooh I was amazed. It was GREAT! They gave me everything. They showered me with gifts. You know, clothing, food. And in the hotel… I was in this hotel, right? Big, big, hotel. It had a bowling alley, it had a big game room, big swimming pool. But when I would look out of my window, as far as I could see, there would be people. They even would sleep out there, waiting for me. They would sleep out there!!! All day long they would stand there. At night they would be out there waiting for me. It was just….. They could not have been sweeter. And I loved it. And I am thinking about buying a house there in Africa.
Question: About Heal the World.
Michael: With Heal the World we have helped millions, hm, and as we speak we are looking at a hospital in New Jersey. That would be the first Michael Jackson hospital and we would like to make these, throughout the world. That is our goal and our mission. And I hate the word orphanage, but pretty much a housing for a unity of people that are in need, you know.. This is pretty much where my heart is and I would love to continue doing it.