STRANGER THINGS and the Copyright Monster

I posted a few weeks back about the one anachronism I spotted in the hit Netflix series STRANGER THINGS–the use of VCRs by characters in a setting, the year 1983, before VCRs were in common use–but for the most part their 80s aesthetic is flawless. In order to keep that sense of time and place intact, those of us who were around in the 80s could have told them that they would have to throw in a little Michael Jackson. Can’t have the 80s without Michael Jackson’s music. Can’t be done.

Producers reportedly had a hell of a time securing the rights to Jackson’s most iconic song, and the song best suited for inclusion in the STRANGER THINGS soundtrack. I speak, of course, of “Thriller.” They wanted to use the song in the trailer for the upcoming season at the San Diego Comic Con. Getting the rights to use it, though, was apparently an ordeal. Said producer Shawn Levy: “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to pull off as a producer–for reasons I won’t go into–we were rejected repeatedly, for months. A month ago…we had another trailer that was being shipped to San Diego..and it really just ate away at us, because we knew it was a really good trailer–but with “Thriller”–it’s next level. So I basically decided to be a major pain in the ass, went back into bull-headed producer mode, and I figured out a way to work out a deal to license [it]…That was a really happy day, the day we pulled off that licensing arrangement.”

I bet they wouldn’t have had such problems if Michael was still alive. STRANGER THINGS strikes me as the kind of show he would have enjoyed. Remember the ORIGINAL video for “Thriller”?

By The Evil Cheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (,, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at


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