'Thriller' Broke Racial and Other Barriers
Mitchell said the video for "Beat It" helped break the color barrier on a nascent MTV. "At the time, Rick James and other black artists were trying to get on there and that's when the racist tag got affixed to MTV because R&B videos just weren't being played," Mitchell said. 'Beat It' was something that MTV just couldn't deny and certainly opened the door for Prince and others to be on MTV."
"Thriller" also transcended musical boundaries, incorporating elements of pop, rock, R&B and more. "A key legacy of this album is that music is universal and can speak to people, whether you're white, black, Asian or whatever," Mitchell said. "Rock stations were playing 'Beat It.' Michael showed that music can be universal and incorporate all these elements, that you can be a mainstream artist and be creative."