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In the world of celebrity siblings, very few have managed to be as complex as the story of Janet Jackson and her brother, the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson. It is a relationship that was a mystery to fans until her self-titled A&E and Lifetime docuseries. The artist opened up about the “shift” in her relationship with brother Michael after his album Thriller.

Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson faced challenges growing up together

Singers Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson at the The 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on February 24, 1993 in Los Angeles, California.
Singers Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson at the The 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on February 24, 1993 in Los Angeles, California. | Steve Granitz / Contributor

Janet Jackson talks openly about growing up as Michael’s little sister in the docuseries. Despite their age difference, the two were quite close in their early childhood.

However, according to Janet, the “pet names” he had for her eventually began to veer more toward animal names. It coincided with Janet Jackson’s weight changes while on Good Times.

She says that she would laugh along with him, but eventually, she internalized her hurt over it. This wasn’t enough to cause a rift in their relationship, though. The divide between these siblings didn’t open up until Michael released his 1982 album, Thriller. At the time, Janet Jackson was 16, while her brother was 24.

‘Thriller’ set the wheels in motion for both of them

Janet Jackson was delighted with the release of Thriller. But she also acknowledges that a change in her relationship with Michael came with its release. But she also recognizes a shift in her relationship with Michael occurred then. “That’s the time Mike and I started going our separate ways,” she explained (via Insider). “He just wasn’t as fun as he used to be.”

From there, things took a turn for the worse after Michael faced accusations of child sexual abuse. By this time, both were successful and led separate lives. But Janet Jackson faced a fallout due to her brother’s public image.

The negative impact began with the derailing of her Coca-Cola contract. She called the guilt by association “frustrating” but attempted to rise above. She even agreed to collaborate with Michael on the 1995 single, “Scream.”

Janet Jackson did the song to support her brother. But things did not go as planned. The record company kept them apart from one another.

“That really hurt me because I felt I was there fighting the fight with him, not to battle him,” Janet Jackson explained. “I wanted it to feel like old times between he and I, and it didn’t.”

Even now, Janet Jackson honors her brother


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Though allegations against Michael Jackson persisted, Janet Jackson still showed her support for him, walking hand in hand to the courtroom. After his death, she was in the courtroom again, listening to testimony for his wrongful death trial.

In the years since, she performed “Scream” alone while on tour and as a tribute at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. She even celebrated what would have been his 60th birthday in 2018.

In the end, Michael and Janet Jackson had a good visit just before his death. The docuseries noted their parting words were, “I love you.”