Michael Jackson & Cartoons- 8 Animated Moments MJ Fans Should Know

(This post is the first of three installments. Subscribe to the mailing list and be the first to know when the next installment goes live.)




“I'm a collector of cartoons.”

Personally, when I hear “Michael Jackson” and “cartoon” in the same sentence, I immediately think of the Jackson 5ive Animated Series. I also think about his love for Disney and about that memorable 1993 cover of Disney Adventures magazine.



I’ve spoken about the Jackson 5 series on the blog before and talked about how much Michael loved being a cartoon with his brothers in the ‘70s.

“I was already a devoted fan of film and animation by the time ‘The Jackson 5ive’ Saturday morning cartoon show started appearing over network television in 1971… I loved being a cartoon. It was so much fun to get up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons and look forward to seeing ourselves on the screen. It was like a fantasy come true for all of us”- Michael Jackson.

As an 80’s baby, I grew up watching several animated versions of Michael in shows like South Park, Robot Chicken, and Family Guy. But, I enjoy the features most that involved Michael in the creative process or included his songs in the finished product.

Michael Jackson was a big fan of the art of animation and cartoons in general. He spoke about it in the February 1983 issue of Rolling Stone.



"All the Disney stuff, Bugs Bunny, the old MGM ones. I've only met one person who has a bigger collection than I do, and I was surprised – Paul McCartney. He's a cartoon fanatic. Whenever I go to his house, we watch cartoons. When we came here to work on my album, we rented all these cartoons from the studio, Dumbo and some other stuff. It's real escapism. It's like everything's all right. It's like the world is happening now in a faraway city. Everything's fine.” – Michael Jackson

Michael  enjoyed being a cartoon on Saturday morning television and although he hasn’t spoken much about it publicly, he probably also got a kick out of some of the later projects too! Some of these are more well-known than others but, they’re all unique and interesting to me. Here I have compiled a list of Michael in cartoons and/or in animated form that I personally love and have enjoyed.

This is Michael Jackson & Cartoons- 8 Animated Moments Fans Should Know

1. Flintstones Kids 

It’s only right to kick this list off with the first successful primetime animated series here in America, The Flintstones. Ranked the second greatest cartoon of all time by TV Guide Magazine, The Flintstones premiered in September 1960. The wild success of the stone-age themed series led to several spin-off series, including the Flintstone Kids.



Running for two seasons from 1986-1988, the series followed the childhood adventures of main characters Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, and Dino.



The special episode called “Just Say No” aired first on September 15th, 1988. It was shown both in a primetime time slot and on Saturday morning as an ABC Weekend Special. In “Just Say No” the Flintstone kids try to save up to see the Michael Jackstone concert. While working an odd-job, Wilma meets an older kid that offers her drugs. She of course, refuses. But the incident inspired the kids to start an anti-drug campaign, warning other kids about the dangers of drug use.



In the 1980’s, United States President, Ronald Regan expanded upon drug control policies that had first been established by President Nixon in the ‘70s. These policy changes have often been referred to as “The War on Drugs”. At the same time, First Lady Nancy Reagan spearheaded a national advertising campaign called “Just Say No”. The campaign’s focus was to educate children on the dangers of drug use and provide them with tools to evade the peer pressure surrounding it by suggesting different ways to "say NO".

This special episode of the Flintstone Kids was one of many at the time, that addressed recreational drug use, the dangers of it, and educated children on how to resist peer pressure.

A song by Latoya Jackson, also called “Just Say No” is featured in the episode. Michael’s sister released this song for the First Lady's campaign on her 1988 album “La Toya”.



If you are lucky enough to find a copy of the episode online, you can hear a snippet of it playing while the Flintstone Kids are creating their anti-drug campaign materials.

I listened to the song recently for the first time and I actually like it! It’s super catchy and very 80’s but, I think it works well for its purpose. The only other song I really like by La Toya is “Heart Don’t Lie” and “Just Say No” has become my second favorite.


 Click HERE to listen to Latoya Just Say No.



When the kids finally make it to the Michael Jackstone concert, he hits the stage to perform a song to the melody of “Beat It”.

“They told the girl
Why don't you step over here
You wanna be cool
Take a look in here
They wanna do drugs
And they're words are really clear
So beat it!
You don't need it!
(Say no!)
You don't need friends
Doing things that are wrong
There's lots of kids like you
Who are cool and strong
It might be kinda tough
But you can move along
So beat it!”



Much like the Jackson 5ive Animated series, Michael did not record the voiceover for his character on the Flintstone Kids. Folk rock musician Kipp Lennon (who also voiced Michael’s singing voice in The Jacksons: American Dream movie) was sourced to do the voice work for Michael Jackstone.

Did I forget to mention that Jackstone is also sporting Michael’s signature jheri curl and one glove? I suppose he should have also had on penny loafers but hey, it was the stone age.


2. Alvin and the Chipmunks
 


Alvin and the Chipmunks hold a special place in my heart. Along with the Jackson 5 Christmas album, the Chipmunks Christmas vinyl was also on replay in my childhood home. I still listen to both of those albums today when I feel nostalgic. Although the two are linked together in my mind for these reasons, Michael Jackson made appearances in the Alvin and the Chipmunks animated series twice.


In a 1989, episode of the Alvin and the Chipmunks animated series, the boys end up performing in a joint concert to benefit charity with Michael. The episode features Alvin dancing on the stage along with Michael during his Motown 25 performance of "Billie Jean". Click here to check out a short clip.

Hosted by The Fresh Prince (now better known as Will Smith) the 1992 video release “Rockin’ With The Chipmunks” featured Alvin dancing along with Michael in the short films for “Beat It” and “Smooth Criminal”.



Originally appearing as a television special entitled “Rockin’ Through the Decades,” the special looks at different eras of music and pop culture through the eyes of the Chipmunks.

Although Michael isn’t technically animated, Alvin interacts with Michael and even does the lean. (but not before falling flat!).

I vaguely remember seeing this special on television as a kid but, watched it again recently as I wrote this post. Something about Alvin tapping on Michael’s shoulder during “Smooth Criminal” before joining him in dance, made me a bit emotional. I remember watching Michael as a kid and feeling like he was just MAGIC. I wanted to be a part of the videos and I wanted to just be in his presence. That’s how much I looked up to and admired him. I suppose kids watching this episode back then and even kids who may come across it on Youtube now, might feel the same.


If you’d like to watch Rockin’ Through the Decades, here is the special in it’s entirety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovNMU0dAqNg


_____

In the words of the King himself, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”.

Stay tuned for the remaining two installments in this series. If you haven’t subscribed yet- make sure you hit the subscribe button in the menu to join the MJFANGIRL newsletter.

Until next time…

No comments

thanks for commenting, #MJfam! xx

Back to Top