In Defence Of Jarvis

by Brian Eno

From the "Another View" column of The Independent, Thursday 22nd February 1996.

Michael Jackson's show at the Brit awards on Monday was one of the most self-aggrandising and unpleasant things I have ever seen on a stage.

It was as though a great balloon of pomp, hype, bad taste and flatulence had descended.

It completely dominated the proceedings and the other artists seemed to be treated like cattle - sort of inconvenient obstructions to the Messiah who had - AMEN! - risen to Grace amidst his steaming pile of sub-Disney doo-doo. Of course, this is only my personal opinion, you understand.

When Jarvis Cocker mounted the stage and did his waggle dance (shortly after God had been embraced by a rabbinical figure, adored by assorted kiddies and was being hoisted to Heaven on a crane), we jumped up and cheered. I just wish I'd had the presence of mind to do it myself, and I think most sentient creatures in the room felt the same way. Someone had to say: "NO! This is total crap and not what we're about".

The contrast between the ironic, bright, self-aware and radical British musicians present - who included Tricky, Pulp, David Bowie, Oasis, Radiohead and Massive Attack - and Jackson's self-serving, sentimental, wide-eyed eco-gloop was excruciating. Jarvis, here seen as the voice of the people, pricked the balloon, and the big men on stage disguised as deprived Third Worlders jumped him. Naturally he lost his balance, as you do when grown-up men try to mount you, and on the way down may have brushed some poor, poor babies whose parents are now reported to be considering legal action.

It is also alleged he stepped on someone's toe which any reasonable person would agree is almost the worst thing you could do to a child.

Anyway, after the "show", the Emperor's army apprehended the boy who had laughed, and he spent the night in the deep, cold dungeons. But all the people of the city had seen what happened and they whispered behind the Emperor's back, and spoke only well of the boy...

The destruction of the rainforests and the plight of the world's poor, which is what Jackson's performance was "about", are real and serious problems. Michael Jackson is a great musician and a great dancer. Unfortunately, he is also turning into a great prat.

So I say: Free the Pulp One! Use all means to defend citizen Cocker.

The writer received a Brit award on Monday evening for Best Producer.