Rembert Explains the ’80s: Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson’s “Say Say Say” Video

Welcome back to our series Rembert Explains the ’80s. Every so often, we’ll e-mail 25-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. This week’s installment was selected by Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons: “Say Say Say” by Michael Jackson and Sir Paul McCartney. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the ’80s, e-mail us at

Rembert’s Note: I know this song, because it was on Thriller, but the only thing I think I remember about the video is that there was a bank robbery. And maybe face paint?

0:04 Why is that white lady shouting? Why?

0:09 Oh hi, Sir Paul McCartney. Why is he looking so Grapes of Wrath-y right now? Dude was in The Beatles.

0:15 Sir Paul is slanging “wonder potion” at all these sad, downtrodden people. Seems rude.


0:17 Oh hey there, random large man:

0:22 Are these poor people carnies? Does the potion cure them from smelling like cabbage and nightmares?

0:24 Oh Michael, your voice was so joyously high.

0:27 Mike is my complexion in this video. I love that. About us.

0:31 What’s wrong?

0:38 Mike, please don’t try Sir Paul’s drink. It looks like V8 Splash but it’s probably carrot-flavored bath salt drink.

0:40 I can’t believe he tried it. This can’t be good. Wait, is this the drink that turned him into the Thriller zombie? Oh, this just got cray.

0:44 OK, definitely not zombie juice. It just made Mike dance. Is this whole thing a Paul-MJ con? Is that what’s going on?

0:46 Oh there you are, cutie:

0:48 Interesting. Mike just challenged this larger, blacker man to arm-wrestle. This music video is officially not the autobiography of Michael Jackson.

0:53 Why is this arm-wrestle tied? This guy is huge. That’s like a stalemate between me and Michael Clarke Duncan. I need some of that V8 Splash that Sir Paul is pushing into these communities.

0:58 Uh-oh:

1:00 Mike won.

1:01 Immediately after that obviously rigged victory, the song starts, which is unfortunate because “Say Say Say” is NOT a good song. Don’t kid yourself.

1:03 This is definitely a con, right? Sir Paul, Black Mike, and Michael Clarke Duncan are all scamming these poor people, right? This seems like a slightly irresponsible video for two of the richer guys ever.

1:11 These people are spending their life savings on Sir Paul’s wonder potion. This is just horrible. It’s like they’re throwing it in our faces that we as world citizens have spent all of our hard-earned cash on their albums, merchandise, and concerts. Mike and Paul are the worst. Absolute worst.

1:16 Paul is now in a wagon, counting his cash.

1:19 Where’s Michael? Did Paul take the money and run?

1:28 Wow, the announcer girl from the beginning was in on the scam, too. This is too much.

1:31 I’m still on #TeamAntiPaul, but his five o’clock shadow is pretty on-point. Can’t. Even. Front.

1:34 MICHAEL, there you are. Apparently he had some business to take care of, because they just picked him up on the side of the road. I also love his outfit choice, which is highly reminiscent of The Wiz.

1:35 Wow. Big Black Duncan is the driver of the getaway car. The entire con gang is present. (I was close with the bank robbery angle. Pretty pumped about that.)

1:42 Where on earth are they going? What era was this set in? Pre-Reconstruction? 2007 Detroit?

1:43 This clip strengthens my belief that there is nothing more dangerous than a multiracial scheme. Like Timbaland and Timberlake. Or Obama and Biden. Or Bert and Ernie. Works. Every. Time.

1:52 Wait a minute. Why did they just roll up to an orphanage? Are they about to sell zombie carrot juice to orphans? If so, I will not be able to proceed with this writeup. I have standards.

1:57 Or are they stealing from the downtrodden to give to the orphans? I highly doubt this, but if so I’m back on #TeamPaulAndMike.

2:00 This song is so brutal. Further proof that Mike could do anything in 1983.

2:14 This is too weird. They don’t seem to be exploiting or helping these kids. Rather, they are just entertaining them. Paul just did a magic trick and Mike is still acting like he’s in The Wiz, dancing around all Savion Glover–like. So weird, this is.

2:22 I haven’t listened to one lyric of this song, but every time Paul goes falsetto, it reminds me how wack this track is.

2:33 They just flashed back to all the poor people from the beginning. They are no longer downtrodden and are now flexing and arm-wrestling each other. Is it simply a placebo or does that drink actually work? I need answers. Firsthand accounts, preferably.

2:39 So they are just going from town to town in their deceit wagon, hustling unassuming lands. This isn’t right. You couldn’t make this video in post-recession America. This is like Watch the Throne times Watch the Throne. Yeah, that bad.

2:48 Mike and Paul are shaving. In front of a woman playing guitar. Just thought you should know.


3:09 Finally, these two scoundrels are hustling an appropriate demographic: pool sharks. Thanks for taking pity on orphans and poor people, guys.

3:16 They are always dressed like children from Oliver. Not hating, just saying it doesn’t seem ideal when they are trying to wingman for each other.

3:21 Michael, I know you’re trying to get a girl like Paul’s girl, but spinning around in a pool hall is a surefire way to get a stick cracked over your head. Just saying.

3:36 Paul and Mike now have face paint on. This video is a train wreck. A train wreck to $100 million.

3:43 The two goobers are doing magic tricks onstage and pulling handkerchiefs out of their mouths. Is this over yet? I want to watch Moonwalker, and then go cry to “Blackbird.”

3:58 Now they’re just dancing onstage in these houndstooth suits. I want to keep hating, because this video is dumb, but watching Michael dance is a thing of beauty. So fluid. So beautiful.

4:09 Just as they were about to go into the next act of their performance, the cops showed up. It’s either the sheriff’s department or the National Guard. Can’t tell. I hope they arrest these two fools for life. So rude.

4:26 The boys get away because one of the magicians starts a barrel fire. Casual.

4:29 Just muted the song for the final 25 seconds. Again, just thought you should know that.

4:35 Mike and Paul got their girls. Big surprise. I wonder if the ladies know they’re in for a life of orphan crime.

4:42 You have to be kidding me. This video ends with Paul keeping his girl, because she’s in the con gang, but Mike losing his girl because she, apparently, isn’t a ride-or-die chick. Poor Mike. Poor, poor Mike.

Filed Under: Music Videos, Paul Mccartney, Rembert Browne, Rembert Explains, Rembert Explains the 80S

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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