Blood on the Dance Floor: The Creative Process of Michael Jackson
by Glenda R. Taylor
Blood on the Dance Floor: The Creative Process of Michael Jackson is a succinct, yet rich monograph that analyzes Jackson’s creativity through investigating various aspects of his personal and family biography. The volume addresses creativity, setting aside lurid and controversial aspects of Jackson’s life in favor of a focused, appreciative attention on Jackson as creative genius.
French scholar Lubart’s study of creativity research produced a “7 Cs” categorization: Creators, Creating, Collaboration, Context, Creations, Consumption, and Curricula. Considering Dr. Taylor’s book through this lens reveals the complex nature of her scholarship. While focused on the second C, “Creating” (which Lubart called the “hub,” Dr. Taylor addressed each of the other categories with respect to how they influenced the development, evolution, and application of Jackson’s creative process. Thus, she examines his personal characteristics as a creator, how he collaborated with other creatives, and the familial and industry environments in which his creative drives and work habits were incubated. Further, Dr. Taylor discusses many of Jackson’s musical and visual creations, and live performances, and how they were received and consumed by the public to such a degree that Jackson became the “King of Pop.” Finally, in terms of “Curricula,” Dr. Taylor’s analysis of Jackson’s creative process, which includes the application of confidence, commitment, and hard work, demonstrates that while Jackson was special, creativity is not the province of a chosen few: it requires talent and effort.
Dr. Taylor’s book portrays a Michael Jackson who combines his intrinsic need to create, as part of his DNA, with an external motive not only to entertain, but to be the best entertainer in the world. His creative process was imbued with spirituality and a desire to make transcendent art. At the same time, he understood the realities of the entertainment industry, having grown up in that world, so that he was ever mindful of disseminating his art to the appreciative masses. Yet he didn’t “cater” to consumers; instead, as Dr. Taylor points out, he took risks, innovated, and continually surprised the world with his creations.
Dr. Taylor’s dedicated scholarship into Michael Jackson’s creative process is clearly a labor of love. Blood on the Dance Floor is a valuable read not only for Jackson scholars and aficionados, but for anyone seeking insights into the dynamics of creativity.