Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s ‘Scream’ Video Was an Unfortunate Turning Point in Their Relationship

In 1995, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson teamed up for “Scream,” a brash and in-your-face collaboration between two superstar siblings. The song addressed much of what had happened to Michael Jackson in the public eye at the time, and his sister was there as a show of support. But when it came time to film the music video, it was clear to Janet that things between her and her brother had changed significantly from when they were kids.

Michael Jackson kissing Janet Jackson on the cheek
Michael Jackson Janet Jackson | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson’s careers

Michael Jackson’s career started when he was just a child. He rose to fame alongside his brothers as the lead singer of their group, The Jackson 5. Jackson eventually made a name for himself as a solo artist with breakout albums including Off the Wall and the record-holding album Thriller.

Janet Jackson grew up performing with her famous family too, but she was more reluctant to take the spotlight. She released her self-titled debut album in 1982 — the same year her brother conquered the world with Thriller — and over the next decade, she would prove that she was as dynamic and talented a performer as her brother, with smash albums including Control and Rhythm Nation 1814.

By the mid-1990s, both Michael and Janet Jackson were respected as pop music legends with boundless talent between them. They were known for their singing as well as their dancing; Janet even became known as an actor with a role on the hit TV show Fame, and later, a starring role opposite Tupac Shakur in Poetic Justice.

Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson didn’t cross paths on the set of ‘Scream’

The music video for “Scream” was set to be a big moment for both Michael and Janet. The shoot ended up going over budget, costing $ 7 million total, and took much longer to film than anticipated.

Janet Jackson reflected on the experience shooting the video and much more in her 2022 Lifetime docuseries Janet Jackson. She wasn’t pleased, in particular, with how she felt snubbed by Michael’s team — and in turn, Michael himself.

“Michael shot nights; I shot days,” she recalled. “His record company, they would block off his whole set so that I couldn’t see what was going on. They didn’t want me on set. I felt like they were trying to make it very competitive between the two of us. That really hurt me, because I felt I was there fighting the fight with him. Not to battle him.”

“I wanted it to feel like old times between he and I and it didn’t,” she lamented. “Old times had long passed.”

Janet and Michael went in separate directions

Janet admitted that Michael’s career had taken a significant turn after the release of Thriller. While he still loved his family, he began to drift apart from them and become increasingly enveloped in his own world.

“There were people that wanted to keep him where he was, where they felt that they could have some sort of control over him,” she said. “I was really upset, because we didn’t grow up like that. And it upsets me to this day.”

Two years after “Scream, “Janet released another acclaimed album, The Velvet Rope. She continued to release music over the next two decades, even after her infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show performance.

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