The new two-part, four-hour A&E and Lifetime documentary on Janet Jackson’s life gives insight into the complicated relationship between Michael and his little sister.
Once very close, after years of controversy, family spats, and label interference, the two most successful Jackson family members struggled to prove that success was not the only tie that bound the two together.
The documentary “Janet” will for the first time allow the “Rhythm Nation” chart-topper to publicly define their relationship, and excerpts show that the king of pop tormented his sister about her struggles with weight gain and after becoming a megastar changed from the warm brother she grew up with.
Jackson, 55, shares in the documentary that her brother used to call her animals whenever she put on the pounds.
“There were times when Mike used to tease me and call me names. ‘Pig, horse, slaughter hog, cow,” the five-time Grammy winner recalled. “He would laugh about it and I’d laugh too, but then there was somewhere down inside that it would hurt.”
“When you have somebody say you’re too heavy, it affects you,” she declared before adding that she was “an emotional eater.”
“When I get stressed or something is really bothering me, it [eating] comforts me,” she shared.
The big brother often called her names and in the past, Jackson has stated that one name based on an animal was endearing. In her 2011 New York Times Best Selling self-help autobiography, “True You: A Journey to Finding and Loving Yourself,” she stated that he teased her about her body before she turned 8 years old.
She said that her brother used to call her “Dunk,” short for donkey and in reference to her big behind.
“A lot of his pet names had to do with my backside,” she wrote. She also noted that she did not believe that he meant it in a bad way, but regardless of his intention, it hurt her, and for years she “internalized” Eurocentric images of beauty like that of “Andy,” a little girl he once compared her to.
“I embraced it, I internalized it, and, without knowing it, became tormented by it for years to come,” the book, dedicated to her brother, reads in part.
While in the book, she said that they were “kindred spirits,” in the doc she talks about the distance that came between them after the success of “Thriller.”
Because Janet is the tenth and youngest child in the Jackson family and as the eightH-born Michael was the oldest of the little ones, the two spent a lot of time together and were extremely close as children. But that started to change after the meteoric success of “Thriller” changed the entire Jackson family’s lives.
She reveals in the series how this level of success changed their relationship, “I remember really loving the Thriller album but for the first time in my life I felt it was different between us, a shift was happening. … That’s the time Mike and I started going our separate ways. He just wasn’t as fun as he used to be.”
The eight-year age difference started to kick between the two: Janet was just turning 16 and Michael was a man, living on his own at 24.
She never got back to the old days. When they filmed the MTV VMA -winning video for their “Scream,” she said they weren’t even in the same room for certain scenes.
“Michael shot nights, I shot days. His record company would block off his set so I couldn’t see what was going on. They didn’t want me on set,” Janet reflects. “That really hurt me, because I felt I was there fighting the fight with him, not to battle him. I wanted it to feel like old times between he and I, and it didn’t. Old times had long passed.”
Another first in the documentary is Jackson sharing how she felt about the 1993 pedophilia allegations against him and the backlash she suffered.
“Michael wound up giving money to the family. He just wanted it to go away, but that looks like you’re guilty,” she explained.
Outside of how it made him look, it made corporations back away from her. She revealed, “When that came out, Coca-Cola said, ‘No, thank you.’ Guilty by association. That’s what they call iT, right?”
She also talked about how she approached her “Man in the Mirror” sibling about helping the brothers out and he was hesitant.
“I said, ‘We wanted to talk about you guys going on tour again and if you guys would do that as brothers. I would be honored to open for you,” she proposed, but to no avail. “He didn’t have much to say, he was standoffish … I was really upset.”
In 2009, her superstar brother died, but the love she had for him did not waver. She has stepped in to help out with his children and on what would have been his 60th birthday, she gave him a loving tribute. She posted a black-and-white picture of the two from their back in the day and captioned it simply, “Missing you.”
“Janet” premieres Jan. 28 on Lifetime and A&E.
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