Michael Jackson Beat It

Michael Jackson’s 1983 music video, Beat It, was one of the turning points in the development of his popularity across a broad spectrum of fans across the world, released in association with his album, Thriller.

Michael Jackson with Michael Peters and Vince Paterson in Beat It music video

Michael Jackson plays the part of a peacemaker who uses dance to quell a knife fight between a two warring Los Angeles gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, led by professional dancers Michael Peters and Vince Paterson.


The video was directed by Bob Giraldi. Giraldi talks about the inspiration for the video in an interview with Boards, explaining that the concept did not come from West Side Story as many people had assumed. “A real tough kid from Jersey told me that he’d witnessed two guys who had their wrists tied and they held switchblades, and only one came out – and not too well. It was based on that little fable.”

The cast of 80 genuine gang members and 18 professional dancers was choreographed by Michael Peters who co-starred as one of two gang leaders. Peters is the leader dressed all in white and wearing sunglasses.


Beat It won two American Music Awards (Favorite Pop/Rock Video and Favorite Soul Video). The video won seven Billboard Music Awards (Best Overall Video Clip, Best Performance by a Male Artist, Best Use of Video to Enhance a Song, Best Use of Video to Enhance an Artist’s Image, Best Choreography, Best Overall Video and Best Dance/Disco 12″). Other awards included the Best Video Performance by the Black gold Awards, the 1984 People’s Choice Award. Rolling Stone recognized Beat It as number one video in both critics’ and reader’s polls, and later inducted it into the top ten examples of video art at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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