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Michael Jackson “Thriller” – Monsters Genre


John Landis’s “Thriller” music video, featuring Michael Jackson, is a horror film made to get funding from television networks and boost sales of the Thriller album. An initial impression might be that this film is both offensive and violent. Many faithful individuals who found the video’s message offensive made this claim. Closer inspection reveals that the video’s intended purpose is to elicit intense feelings associated with horror films. Dirk (2010) and Devitt (1993) argue that genres emerge from interactions between people. This means that a genre is already suitable for any social circumstance you might face. According to this view, the “Thriller” was created to satisfy the needs of those who wanted to experience terrifying emotions in a risk-free environment.


“Navigating Genres” and “Generalizing about Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept” present two distinct social theories. Kerry Dirk implies that writers should use their chosen genre’s conventions as a tool. Kerry Dirk not only alludes to its features but also stresses how, thanks to different authors’ approaches, the genre can grow and find new uses. Furthermore, she used the genre of “country music” to illustrate the importance of genre in her discussion. Amy J. Devitt, on the other hand, stresses that genre can take multiple shapes depending on the circumstances, from the correspondence of surroundings to the interpretations of readers. Amy J. Devitt argues that we must adopt a radically different way of thinking to construct novel ideas from preexisting ones successfully. Therefore, rather than comprehending the texts’ style, we need to understand how to analyze the patterns of settings or people’s experiences. Once we construct these novel notions and adjust our way of thinking, we are in a position to comprehend the rhetorical and semiotic features of a given scenario.

That’s the result of watching the Michael Jackson video. People are scared but in an encouraging way. It’s a new form of entertainment, another subgenre that other artists and writers work within. Fear is enjoyable, but only in the context of absolute security for the individual and their loved ones. People who know that what they see on screen is made up can relax and enjoy themselves.

The readers and viewers are introduced to the narrative of two young individuals. One of them (Michael Jackson) is “not like other guys” [1:55]. The male lead of the music video morphs into not one but two gruesome creatures. The initial change can be seen as the stereotypical “turning into the werewolf with the full moon” scene [min. 2:10]. The titles of some works, like “Curse of the Full Moon” and “Silver Moon”, give readers a hint as to the setting. Michael also joined the ranks of writers who use the same tired cliché when depicting monsters in fiction, pairing a male as a terrible monster with a weak and innocent lady.

Michael’s transformation into a zombie represents the second metamorphosis [start at min. The part where he breaks out into dance may be more out of the ordinary than typical zombie transformations in horror films. A few minutes earlier, though, we saw the most talked-about image, which had an exceedingly frightening setting: a cemetery with tombs and lifeless bodies emerging from the graves [min. 6:23].

Amy J. Devitt claims that “genres have the capacity to aid or damage human contact,” that they can facilitate communication or deceive, and that they can give someone a voice or prevent them from finding their own. Michael Jackson’s goal in this exchange was to provide context for the creatures he introduces in the following section. Because of this, he can more easily connect with his listeners. Without this crucial sequence situated in a typical “zombie” environment, viewers could get the impression that the creatures depicted in the film are merely unsanitary humans dressed in tattered garments. After the graveyard scene, they wouldn’t be as terrifying as before. People employ genre to aid in their goal-achieving, as Kerry Dirk writes. That was the plan, and Michael Jackson made it work. The viewers have finally realized that the dance partners of the protagonist are monsters in the hereafter. Even though Michael Jackson’s transition into a zombie wasn’t as dramatic as his werewolf metamorphosis, the fear that comes from it is a fantastic addition to the video.


Overall, Michael Jackson could forge a powerful emotional connection with his listeners by tapping into the current “horror” fad and exploiting the werewolf and zombie subgenres. By drawing on an established subgenre, he created a situation that would have been incomprehensible to someone without prior knowledge of monster fiction. The video gave viewers the intense feelings they were looking for in a scary entertainment option.

Works Cited

Devitt, Amy J. 1993. “Generalizing about genre: new conceptions of an old concept.” College Composition and Communication, 44(4), 573-586.

Dirk, Kerry, 2010. “Navigating genres” Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, 1, 249-262. Parol Press.

Jackson, Michael, 1983. “Thriller” music video, directed by John Landis.


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