His early non-medical transformation under the knife seemed to have begun around 1981 during his “Thriller” era. Initially, he only had his nose narrowed down and his eyebrows shaped. Later, his lips seemed thinned down and nose tipped up as his face seemed made feminine and his skin color whitened.
During his 2002 courtroom appearance, he looked ghoulish and wore a plaster that seemed to hold the nose by its tip. By the time of his death, a more feminine and odd-looking Jackson had to have his “deteriorating” nose repaired by a German plastic surgeon who inserted a cartilage taken from his ear.
Some attribute what was then MJ’s emerging odd behavior to the accident that inflicted second-degree burns to his scalp while filming a commercial for Pepsi Cola in 1984. The incident supposedly led the singer to acquire dependence on painkilling drugs. Whatever the cause was, it was clear that the pop icon developed an addiction for facial plastic surgery. The famed singer’s rhinoplasty beginning in the 1980s drew criticisms that he was having problems with his African-American look.
It later became apparent, however, that his sculpturing issues involved something else, or perhaps both. His German surgeon reportedly said that Michael Jackson was obsessed with plastic surgery and wanted to change his looks from a black male to a white female.
Despite his physical transformation that moved away from his ethnic and masculine facial features—courtesy of the science of plastic surgery—it still cannot be denied that the King of Pop almost single-handedly tore down the wall that restricted the Afro-American penetration of American pop culture.
Before Jackson’s time and inspite of the gains of the Civil Movement, the dominant society that earlier enslaved their ancestors and sent segregated black “Immune Regiments” to help fight the colonialist Philippine-American War was simply still very much discriminatory against the blacks. Before him, black music, and its black artists, were generally relegated to that produced by white artists.
In the 1970s, MJ was already a big name with his “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “Ben” hits during the period that he and his brothers were helping build the racially integrating Motown Sound. The Jackson brothers, with Michael as their band’s lead singer, were the first Afro-American teenage idols that appealed equally to both black and white audiences.
As solo star in the 1980s, the colossally huge sales of his records and his popularization of the moonwalk dance steps showed to the world that an African-American artist can become the largest Afro-American and crossover star in history. Moreover, his “Billie Jean” success forced MTV to lift its ban on featuring black artists during its regular rotation.
Thus was the door swung open for other black artists such as Prince to showcase their artistry, together with their dark skins, in the world of music videos. The then emerging image-and-sound music channel that was MTV proved to be a powerful vehicle not only for the popular acceptance of individual black singers but, moreover, for the effective Afro-American penetration of American consciousness.
Other than by his superbly beautiful “feathery-timbered tenor” coasting into a daringly startling falsetto, his avant garde and technically superb moonwalk and robotic moves, the smashing success of “Thriller” that elevated the importance of albums, and his influence on hip hop, pop and R&B vocal styles, Jackson was able to revolutionize pop culture by forever altering the demographics of race color in the who’s who of pop culture.
The nonchalantly good number of Afro-American entertainment celebrities we have today in America actually owe their debt to the King of Pop.