Joke – American

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Italian American/Cape Verdean/Azorean
Age: 24
Occupation: Warehouse Worker
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/1/2011
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

“What does Michael Jackson and Walmart have in common? And then you say…”
“What?”
“They both have kids’ pants half off.”

“How do you know when it’s bedtime in Michael Jackson’s house? When the big hand meets the little hand.”

The informant is a 24-year-old warehouse worker, equipment operator in the Navy Reserves, and a painter. He grew up in the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts until he moved to Los Angeles, California about a year and a half ago.

The informant learned this joke at a Navy Reserve weekend in Quincy, Massachusetts. Michael Jackson had just died so it seemed like a good time to make some Michael Jackson jokes. Told them because they are “freakin’ hilarious”. The informant says that Michael Jackson was a “pretty crazy dude.” Examples of Jackson’s freakiness included, “he was black then he was white, then he was a girl…hanging his kids over the side of the building, molesting kids, which I’m pretty sure he did do; he’s just a freak.” He finished by saying, “I don’t care if he died I have no respect for the guy.”

At other times when I’ve asked him where he learned it he wasn’t sure if it was when it was in the news that Michael Jackson had draped his kid outside his window or after he had died. He would have had to have heard them between March and early October 2009, because these were the only times he drilled in Quincy, MA. As Michael Jackson died June 25, 2009 this corroborates the context surrounding the informant learning the folklore. The informant has told this joke on the way to movies, and in moments of quiet – I can’t remember exact contexts, but these are probably some of the informant’s favorite jokes. I think it’s interesting that he heard them in the military as the military can be stereotyped as a man’s world, where gay men are not allowed to be out. It may be that Michael Jackson’s presence in the world was a threat to that. But on a deeper level I think that the allegations of molestation got under the informant’s skin in particular. While the informant does not like being in the Navy Reserves in the least, he appreciates his role in the Navy as a SeaBee, an Equiptment Operator because the emphasis is not so much on killing as it is on rebuilding – and frequently in humanitarian causes. Michael Jackson may have also represented a threat to the informant’s social justice focus.