- "...Try our La Bamba fajita tortilla pita. It's got a hot salsa, avocados, cilantro mix, with your choice of beans, chicken, be-be-beef, or pork..."
- —Michael Jackson video waiter at Cafe 80s
- " The image [of the Ayatollah Khomeini] shifted as the [screaming] voice changed to a gentle falsetto. "Hey, be cool." The image resolved itself to approximate Michael Jackson. "Don't be bad. We're all friends here." The head bobbed around on the screen as if the unseen body beneath might be moonwalking. "
- —From Back to the Future Part II by Craig Shaw Gardner (quote, pages 28 and 29)
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009), also known as the King of Pop or by his initials MJ, was an internationally recognized pop star of the late 20th century and early 21st century.
Jackson released such hits as "Billie Jean" and "Beat It". As a child, he had been the lead singer, with his brothers, in the band The Jackson Five. Jackson popularized the moonwalk, a dance move, in the early 1980s, and Marty McFly imitated the step before a bewildered group in the Palace Saloon in 1885. In 1985 he was still enjoying success from his 1982 album Thriller and was already one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world.
In 2015, a video simulacrum of Jackson appeared in the Cafe 80's, instructing viewers about their choices for the diner's specials. The simulacrum's appearance seems to be based on Jackson's appearance in his human form during the Thriller short film from 1983. Jackson's song "Beat It" can be heard playing in the Cafe during Marty's initial confrontation with Griff Tannen.
When Marty returned from 2015 to 1985A, the alternate timeline where Biff Tannen was rich and powerful, he found that his bedroom was occupied by Loretta. Had Marty not had to flee the house immediately to escape Lewis, who was wielding a wooden baseball bat, he may have noticed that Loretta was a Jackson fan, with posters from two of his albums: a large Thriller poster adorned the outside of the door, while a smaller Off the Wall poster could be seen on the bedroom wall behind the door. The alteration of the timeline apparently did not prevent Jackson from recording his 1979 album Off the Wall and his 1982 album Thriller, although the content of those recordings would not necessarily have been the same as it would be in the restored 1985.
Behind the scenes
- Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009, shortly a month before he was scheduled to make a comeback with a series of fifty sold-out concerts in London, England (the This Is It concert series). Coincidentally, all three celebrities simulated by the video waiters died before 2015; the Ayatollah Khomeini had died months before the release of the film that be also appeared in 1989 and Ronald Reagan in 2004.
- In commentary to the DVD of Part II, Bob Gale noted that "Michael Jackson was a big fan of the first Back to the Future, so he was very co-operative and generous in letting us use his... re-create his likeness and use his music in this." He added that "The guy that played Michael Jackson [referring to E'Casanova (The World's Greatest Michael Jackson Tribute Artist)] who at the time wasn't even in his teens yet, was a joy to work with and very professional. In fact, E'Casanova naturally looked more like Jackson as himself than he did with all of the foam latex appliances that were applied to his face daily.
- Coincidentally, Donald Fullilove also provided the voice for young Michael Jackson in the 1971 television cartoon based on the Band before he became a solo artist in The Jackson 5ive. Fullilove's voice is heard immediately before the Jackson simulcra, as he portrays Goldie Wilson III in a commercial.
- In the Simpsons episode "Stark Raving Dad", Jackson (under the pseudonym 'John Jay Smith') provided the voice of Leon Kompowsky, a mental patient who believed himself to be Michael Jackson. The character frequently interacted with Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta).
- Back to the Future Part II (Simulacra)