Remembering Michael Jackson: ‘Captain EO’

Michael Jackson was the epitome of cool to those of us who grew up in the 1980s. He was probably the first celebrity I recognized and followed as a young kid.

One of my fondest memories of Jackson was his Disneyland 3-D movie, “Captain EO.” When I first visited Disneyland it was one of the newest and most popular attractions. Being at Disneyland, the last thing you really want to do is sit down for anything… but this was a Michael Jackson movie! In 3-D!

Despite all of the amazing things I had seen at my first day of Disneyland, “Captain EO” has always stood out as one hell of an experience. My sister and I were very young and we didn’t really understand how 3-D worked. We thought everything was actually leaping out of the screen at us! Hey, it was the ’80s. This was a simpler time!

We spent a lot of energy trying to catch Fuzzball, EO’s adorable butterfly-winged sidekick. My sister swore she’d cupped him in her hands at the end of the movie. “He felt like air.” She was 6 years old, and yes, you have permission to laugh.

My sister and I talked about the movie for weeks after our trip. We told everyone who would listen about how cool it was. To an 8 year old and a 6 year old, “Captain EO” was the future in many ways — not only of movie-making (and look how true that’s become) but of the world. I was convinced that the year 2000 would see life looking like a combination of “EO” and “Star Wars,” and I fervently hoped so because I wanted to wear a rainbow jumpsuit like EO. To me, Jackson had tapped into some magical vision of the future. He was the future, from his music videos to his 3-D movies.

It’s easy to look back at that very first trip to Disneyland and remember when everything was innocent. When Michael Jackson was a man of pure magic, a man who could convince you that rainbows and sequins were cool, and that his Fuzzball friend was real.