Pulling back the curtain. Janet Jackson is known for being fiercely private, but her new documentary allowed her to address longstanding misconceptions about her family and career.
The Grammy winner, 55, began filming the two-part Lifetime series in 2017 when she invited a production crew to document her State of the World tour. They stayed with her for a full five years.
Part one of the documentary premiered on Friday, January 28, and included interviews with her mother, Katherine Jackson, her brothers Tito and Randy Jackson and her sister Rebbie Jackson, as well as collaborators Debbie Allen, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Missy Elliott and Paula Abdul.
As the baby of the family, the “Black Cat” singer was a small child when her brothers rose to fame as the Jackson Five. She performed on stage for the first time in 1974 when she was just 7 years old, as part of her family’s Las Vegas show. “I don’t ever remember being asked,” the Indiana native recalled in Janet Jackson. “I just remember being put into it.”
Over the years, other Jackson siblings have been vocal about how their father, Joe Jackson, pushed them into show business, and some of them have alleged that his methods included abuse. In 1991, La Toya Jackson claimed that Joe, who died in 2018 at age 89, sexually abused her and her sisters when they were children. (The Jackson family denied this allegation at the time.)
Michael Jackson, for his part, once said that “just a look” from his father could scare him. “When he’d come to see me, I’d get sick,” the late “Bad” singer, said in 1992. “I’d start to regurgitate.” Joe later responded by telling the BBC: “He regurgitates all the way to the bank.”
Janet didn’t address the abuse accusations in part one of the film, but she emphasized Joe’s heavy focus on the children’s careers. “I remember stories about my mother allowing my brothers and sisters to play outside, and then they’d see my father’s car coming down the street and run into the house and pick up their instruments and start playing like they were rehearsing all along,” she said, adding that they’d yell, ‘Joseph’s coming, Joseph’s coming!’”
The “All for You” songstress went on to say that her parents “disciplined” all of their kids, but she claimed that they always followed it up with love. “Discipline without love is tyranny. And tyrants they were not,” she explained. “They just loved us and wanted us to be the best that we could possibly be. Obviously, it worked.”
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