I love listening to older people who like to "hold court". The guy who ran the gym I used to lift at would glower from underneath a pile of crinkled newspapers, in filthy clothes - like a combination of "Ol' Dirty" (Simon Yuen) from the kung fu movies and Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back. He'd hold court. Likewise, there's a real character of a weightlifter in the Atlanta area - a 65 year old man who gets world titles, who is a force of nature. He holds court wherever he goes.
Likewise, I got to hear this awesome theory from an older black gentleman, opining on when superstar Michael Jackson went from ascending God-tier megastar to incredibly weird news item. He too was holding court, from a stool in a food court. And I sat back and listened to his theory.
"You see..." he said, me paraphrasing what he said as best as I can remember, "it all started when the (person of color, the term softened by -er being switched with -a) did that MOVIE for Thriller."
"He made a movie? You mean the video."
"No, I mean the movie. The video just a part of the movie. Video just him dancing as some Walking Dead or some (excrement). The whole movie is him taking the girl to a movie, then him goin and walking past a graveyard, and so on. THEN the video start."
I vaguely remembered this, in the 1980s the videocassette of his epic video / story for Thriller was an item avaiable for purchase in its own right. I'd seen it, found it most amusing that he prefaced it with "this by no means is to endorse belief in the occult" to try to mollify his Jehovah's Witnesses church. (This was well before his near-deathbed conversion to Islam).
"Okay, so you go down to Walmart, they had special version of it that just played a loop over and over, the movie again and again to promote the album."
"So you're saying a movie made people think he was weird?"
"No, no, son. Not the movie. AFTER the movie."
He took a breath.
"You see, after the movie, they showed, for reasons nobody can fathom, but the (person who has had intimate relations with his female parent) there with the director, who's all like "here's something you don't know about Michael Jackson. He's actually really ticklish." And then Michael all sweet, goin' (high pitched, exaggerated effeminate voice) "tee hee hee, don't?" And that's when we knew the (person of African extraction, the racial epithet softened by the replacement of -er with -a) was SWEET. One of those UNDERCOVER (person who has intimate relations of a sexual nature with his maternal parent, plural).
The clip he's talking about is here. Not exactly as the man described it, but yes, I can kind of see how that would begin to make America think of him as kind of creepy. Sleeping in a vat of pasteurized pig fat, buying the Elephant Man's skeleton and so forth didn't really help matters.