My Notes on the Janet Jackson Documentary

Hello All!

I want to preface this post by saying: You don’t really know me if we have never had a music conversation. Music has ALWAYS been integral to my life. If we have never chatted about music – then we aren’t really friends! Some people just listen to music to pass the time or when they are at a party. Well, for me music literally is LIFE. I’m not kidding. Music has saved me more times than I can say. I won’t say more or I will get emotional.

Janet and I know the deal! Haha.

I had to include some notes/thoughts from the Janet Jackson documentary. I don’t want to call this a “review”. I will just call it an analysis. The documentary premiered this past weekend on the Lifetime channel. If you know me, you know I am a big fan of Janet. I have been a big fan for a very, very long time. I’m not a delusional fanatic…just an admirer. This is a mostly spoiler-free analysis. Even as a fan, I would only recommend this documentary if you want a nice overview of her career. This documentary doesn’t go deep on anything. If you want gossip/tabloid-type stories – you will not find them in this documentary. There will be no real “tea”.I believe this documentary was created to have people watch it in the next 5 years and something she can be proud of as her son grows up. It’s a celebration of her career. She was very careful about the narrative.

On a side note: A dream for me would be to do a 15-part podcast called: The Psychology of the Jackson Family. I have so many notes/thoughts after watching this family and reading their stories for over 30 years. There is SO much to unpack. The first episode would just be an overview of the impact of the family on entertainment. The subsequent episodes in order: Joe, Katherine, Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya, Marlon, Michael, Randy, and then Janet. I would do it this way because – trust me – they all need their own individual episodes to break everything down. I think the best way to do it is by introducing the siblings in their birth order and not by popularity. I think the birth order would make sense from a psychological study purpose. The last 3 episodes would just be making sense of the dynamic of the whole family and how they are still being impacted TO THIS DAY by everything that happened once they left Gary, Indiana for California. Again, this is a *dream* of mine. I’m not saying I’m necessarily moving forward with it. To be clear – I’m not interested in the celebrity of the family – I am interested in them as regular people, what makes them tick, and how the entertainment business had an effect on their mental health.

I suppose as I say this – I should “tease” the idea that I do want to have a podcast someday. That’s all I will say.

I also attached a link below to my other post that explained how Janet inspired me growing up. Please check that out.

Parts that Bothered Me

  • Her father had her doing Mae West impressions at 6 and 7. The Jacksons had a variety show and they all were apart of it. Little Janet even participated. It was the first time the public had really seen her. They performed in Las Vegas and there were no other kids performing in Vegas. Yet, their father thought it would be a good idea to have his kids peforming there. I don’t appreciate that Janet was being sexualized instead of being allowed to just portray a little girl. It wasn’t that she was portraying an adult – it was that she was potraying Mae West who was a known sex kitten in her prime. She was very ahead of her time when it came to sexuality. Why would you have your little girl portray a character like that even for humor? It was in bad taste. I know it was the 1970s…but I still cringe looking at that footage.

  • Janet discussed her weight/body issues from growing up. She developed early and was teased by her brothers for her big butt. I’m not upset with her brothers because that’s what kids do, but I do wish Janet was more honest about her feelings. It was clear she developed some major self-esteem issues very young and I don’t think she ever had anyone at that age to talk to about it. This is where I question Katherine. All I ever hear about is how great and wonderful their mother was – but I have never actually heard any stories that made me understand what was great about her. She didn’t seem to defend her children against Joe or anyone else. What was admirable about that? I’m not trying to disrespect their mother. I understand she was from a different era and women did whatever the husband said. I understand until it interferes with the development of the kids. I felt like Katherine could have done more in this area. Instead, I think she was so focused on teaching her Jehovah Witness scriptures, she ignored the isolation and depression her children were dealing with at such young ages. They needed a mother who was going to listen. I think all of the kids wanted to be heard and understood. They weren’t going to get that from Joe. I assumed their mother was more involved. Again, I think she was blinded by the JW teachings. She was so caught up in that she didn’t focus on being the mother they needed in certain moments. Sometimes, you have to drop the religion and meet your kids where they are. Yes, I am saying this as a Christian myself. Sometimes, some Christians are so caught up in preaching AT YOU they don’t understand when you just need a shoulder to cry on. I realize now that I don’t believe Katherine knew how to do that. So, they didn’t talk honest with their mother either. I can imagine for a girl that had to be difficult that you couldn’t even talk honest with your mother. It’s clear to me that Janet still has work to do in this area. I hope she is in therapy. I still think she has issues with self-love.
  • Janet and her relationships were so complicated. By the way, I won’t discuss Joe in depth here. He has been discussed so much. I am not here to bash Joe. No Joe bashing here. I respect Joe for getting his family out of Gary, IN. What I will mention is that I am still bothered that Janet doesn’t make the connection or at least doesn’t want to publicly acknowlege that how Joe treated her mother impacted her. All of the relationships discussed in the documentary showed that Janet still struggles with self-love. She picked men who were controlling, abusive, and narcissistic. Alot of narcissistic men are charming in the beginning. They pay for all the meals, they buy you things, they are funny and sweet. They do all of that to hook you in. If you are still hooked at about the 4 or 5 month mark, they will eventually show you their true colors. They start lashing out and taking everything out on you. They start telling you what to wear, that you are ugly, that you are supposed to feel proud that you the one they chose, what friends you can have, how often you can spend time with your own family, etc. That’s how it starts. It’s called emotional abuse. Sometimes, emotional abuse turns into physical or sexual abuse. Yes, that’s right. You can be sexually abused by a partner. There is also financial abuse. Financial abuse is when they tell you how you are allowed to spend your own money. This happens often with couples where one person makes a lot more than the other person. The person who makes more money feels like they can didcate how the person who doesn’t make as much money spends their money. In some cases, women who don’t make their own money and completely financially dependent on their husbands have to ask for an allowance. The issue is that the allowance doesn’t cover basic necessities but they expect you to work with it. For example: you may have a baby. Well, the breadwinner gives you $100 to cover the expenses for the next 2 weeks. You are expected to make due with that $100 as you buy groceries, put gas in the car, pay a bill or two, and buy whatever is necessary for the baby – and that’s supposed to stretch for 2 whole weeks! So, yes, Janet found herself with men who had most of the same traits as her father. Go figure! I think she is one of those women that still kind of likes the protection of a man. She likes to have a man to lean on to take care of the big, bad scary world so she doesn’t have to. I get it. I understand that on so many levels.
  • I know Janet wanted to be the female Michael. I know she admired all of her brothers as The Jackson 5. Yet, I think it hindered her growth as a woman and musical artist. I believe Janet spent the first half of career just chasing Michael. As much as I loved MIchael as an artist, it always bothered me that no matter what Janet did in her career she would always be compared to a man. Her career was always going to be so connected to the career of a man. It just happened to be that man was her brother. What I mean is that she was so busy trying to be the female Michael, I don’t think she took time to find herself. Who is Janet away from Michael? Who does Janet want to be as a musical artist? If she never had the pressure (or put the pressure on herself) to be female Michael – what all could she accomplish? I don’t think Janet truly became JANET until she did the JANET album that was released in 1993. It has become more clear to me after watching the documentary that Janet didn’t have a strong woman as a blueprint for her life. I think she always watched what the men around her were doing and tried to emulate some version of that but added a bit of feminity to it. I think the men around her had a bigger influence on all aspects of her life – much more than I ever realized until the documentary. She just went from following the orders of her father, to following behind her brothers, to following behind her first husband James DeBarge, to following behind Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and it goes on and on. I don’t think she was raised to see women as pillars of any type of strengh beyond bearing children and raising them (no disrespct to mothers). I feel like this is the part of Janet that needs to be studied for real. If I could do a podcast on the family – this is what I would discuss on the Janet episode. How does it affect a little girl to be surrounded by alot of men of varying personality types but only women that are meek?

Parts Where I Wanted More

  • I wanted more backstage footage with the dancers. I wanted to hear more back stories about her music. I wanted to hear more of her process with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
  • I wanted more sibling stories. I wanted to feel like I underood regular ol’ Janet more. I wish there were just stories of Janet being Janet and not the musical artist. I wish at least LaToya and Marlon participated.
  • I would have rather she found more people she actually worked with over the years to interview.


  • My favorite part was the footage with MJ as they went over the lyrcis for the song “Scream”.
  • I loved all the footage from her early years and when she finally took “Control”. The Control and Rhythm Nation Janet was the Janet I grew up with and still love to this day.

Link to “How Janet Jackson Inspired Me”

Peace and Blessings.

2018. A mix of my favorite songs between my 2 favorite artists.

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