“Behind the Mask” – The Mystery of Billie Jean
Another English paper. The objective was to write a mini autobiography about someone (timeline, article, or narrative, etc.). I decided to write an article reminiscent of 1983/4 with excerpts from 2 different times in Mike’s life pertaining to the song – Billie Jean. Everything in here is based on fact, but with my interpretation of it from what’s been gathered on the subject.
I know, but I just couldn’t resist!
Behind the Mask
People always told me be careful of what you do
And don’t go around breaking young girls’ hearts
And mother always told me be careful of who you love
And be careful of what you do ’cause the lie becomes the truth
“There is a girl named Billie Jean, but it’s not about that Billie Jean. Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the ’60s. They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers” (Jackson in Thailand).
“Michael? Michael, you awake, man?”
Michael ignored his brother, Jermaine, and continued to lay quietly in the bed opposite his of their hotel suite. It was always Jermaine that he had to share a room with as they were the two lead singers of the band, so Mr. Gordy often had them flown out separately to lay down different tracks and what not. He didn’t mind, Jermaine was the brother he was closest to of the five of them, and they always had fun getting up to mischief on the road. It was just nights like this that made him want to get away from his brother. Far away…
Convinced that he was asleep, Michael knew that their attention was no longer on him, so he slid his head underneath the pillow and pretended that he couldn’t hear his brother and the girl over in the next bed. Pretended that in the early hours of the morning Jermaine would not consummate in the breaking of yet another young girl’s heart.
“There was never a real Billie Jean. The girl in the song is a composite of people my brothers have been plagued with over the years. I could never understand how these girls could say they were carrying someone’s child when it wasn’t true” (Moonwalk).
Ten years later, Michael stared down at the letter, the fifth in the past two weeks, and groaned unable to comprehend why this was happening to him. Hadn’t he always been the brother to practice the morals mother had taught them? This girl had been driving him crazy these past two weeks, but he knew after this last letter, that this girl was much more than just a crazy fan with dreams of being his:
I love you so much and I know that you love me just as much. Baby, it’s okay that you haven’t been answering my letters, I understand that it’s hard for you, but there’s still a way for us to be together again with our child. In this package I’ve given you a gun and a picture of myself and our child. At exactly Midnight this Saturday, I want you to pull the trigger on yourself. Find comfort in knowing that at the same time I will be pulling the trigger on our baby and then myself. If we cannot be together in this life I just know that we can be in the next. Meet me there, baby, please. Let’s be together again.”
Michael sniffed and crumpled the letter into his fist, but not before a tear could fall onto the small squared picture of the wide eyed infant in his hand. He turned his eyes to the woman before putting both pictures on the mantelpiece over the fireplace and stared hard at her face. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he knew that if he ever saw this woman he had to be able to recognize her.
Jet Magazine - February 3, 1984
Who Is Billie Jean?
By Nielson Greggory
For years Michael Jackson has been building up on the entertainment spectrum, and yet no one was ever able to predict that this bubblegum pop icon would become the most famous star on Earth, and no doubt a walking legend in itself. What’s even more phenomenal, and quite curious, is the obvious shift in material Jackson now has spinning on our turntables. The bubblegum pop soul label given to the genre of music he and his brothers sang in the early 70s eventually gave birth to a more grown sound with their transference to CBS records in 1975. The records they spun out were not so promising, at first, and most were convinced that Jacksonmania was officially over for the brothers, now minus Jermaine. However, on the slim odds of managing to charm their way into writing and producing their own album without renowned duo Gamble & Huff, they flew back up the charts with Destiny. The mainstream world outside of the black charts retook interest in the group and – despite being critically panned – the Motown production of The Wiz got immense coverage. Then came Off the Wall.
The record that broke not only records for a black artist, but for the music industry as a whole. It was not only the biggest selling record by a black artist, but the first to chart 4 top ten singles – and yet it won only one Grammy. Fluke aside, I say ‘was’ because those records, as we know, have all been smashed by Jackson’s Thriller which was released almost a year and a half ago and continues to maintain its rightful spot atop the charts. As stunning as that is, it’s not at all hard to believe considering the genius that this record is. What is hard to believe is the material.
It takes us back to the Michael Jackson we all know, the one who has been dubbed the Peter Pan of Pop in favor of his child-like spirit and behaviors, but there is little that one would consider “child-like” about this record unless you mean the bounciness of the bass on Startin’ Somethin’ or the giddiness of PYT. With Thriller Jackson explores the horrors of teenage pregnancy, interracial relationships, gang violence, the unknown pains of human nature, and closes with a seductive serenade to the lady we assume is in his life. What stands out most and continues to drive our feet into a stomping beat is Billie Jean; the tale of a woman who claims Jackson as the father of her child while he vehemently denies paternity.
Well, who is Billie Jean? A mysterious lover that would go against all beliefs of Jackson’s squeaky clean, virginal image or a mere figment of his imagination that he fears may come into actuality?
With rumors afloat it’s hard to decide. Quincy Jones is rumored to have been told she was a crazy fan who broke into Jackson’s Hayvenhurst compound in Encino. Upon Quincy’s insistence that the song be called “Not My Lover” so as not to get mixed up with tennis player Billie Jean King, Jackson insisted that the song must be titled as it was. Jackson has yet to speak out on the inspiration of the story, but as with all myths it’s only a matter of time.
In the meantime the mystery shall go on.
Billie Jean is not my lover
She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one, but the kid is not my son
Billie Jean is not my lover