Last week, my college-years partner-in-crime Sandy and her husband Tommy visited the great state of Texas. Between watching for grackles at Rice and eating warm sopapillas at Chuy’s and browsing alarmist baby books at Half Price, an amazing thing happened. Sandy and Tommy. They bought us Michael Jackson: The Experience for the Wii. And life has never been the same.
For those readers unacquainted with the game: As a player, your task is to mimic Michael’s moves as he dances to twenty-six of his hits, from the bubble gum “The Way You Make Me Feel” to the weird and angry “Ghosts,” a song I never knew existed until last week. MJ’s costume and coif transform as you travel through his musical career — from bell bottoms to leather leggings, from fro to mullet — and as you follow his sequined glove with your controller, you earn points for accuracy.
This game! It is such fun! Sure, my Ikea coffee table interferes with my zombie pop-and-lock when I groove to “Thriller,” and my crotch grabs are not as committed as Michael’s. I just can’t bring myself to do it with such conviction.
But, as Sandy so aptly noted as we caught our breath between “Smooth Criminal” and “Black and White,” it doesn’t matter what you actually look like while playing Michael Jackson: The Experience. Because in your head, you are a BAD ASS. In fact, about thirty minutes in, I am usually not only winded but also baffled. Why haven’t I been discovered? Obviously I should have been one of MJ’s backup dancers.
There is, however, one flaw in the Michael Jackson Experience. As you turn on your Wii and strap the controller to your wrist, you must make a decision. Will you dance with beautiful, awe-inspiring abandon, or will you instead snap your wrist in the precision that a high score requires? There is, of course, something satisfying in racking up points while the whirring console tells you, again and again, that you’re “perfect!” But there is also something satisfying in completely rocking it, hair flying, to “Billie Jean.”
Because she is not my lover!