Locked up at home
with the same Michael Jackson song on repeat, a strange character is
forced to dance in front of his mirror under the orders of unsettling
magical presences. Until the day he decides to break the rules.
Buff Correll is a YouTube star who passionately and fearlessly records
karaoke performances in front of the mirror in his bedroom. The setting
is always the same, with a photo of himself in the background. Despite
his off-key singing and ambitious dance moves, there is a disarming
sincerity to this enigmatic character. "Man in the Mirror" is also a
Michael Jackson song and music video that marked my childhood,
featuring scenes of adoring crowds in packed stadiums. This piece
brings together these two complex characters, these two notions of
intimacy and public life, of inside and outside, through the lens of
the Japanese phenomenon of hikikomori (young adults who lock themselves
away, cutting off all social interaction for months or even years).
It is a reflection on contemporary representations of the racialized
body, on my own mixed-race body and skin, in an age of viral and
ultra-violent images of black bodies being brutalized on the internet,
and also on the fetishization of these same bodies in music videos,
pornographic films, and advertisements.