Man In The Mirror Like Self Analysis

1980s pop megastars were responsible for guiding pop culture into a revolution of emerging trends. It was a decade full of discrimination, immigration, homosexuality, poverty, and health crises, where the public looked towards celebrities for inspiration. Michael Jackson, King of Pop broke more social barriers than any other icon of his time. Michael’s 1987 hit, “Man in the Mirror” was an upbeat pop song that inspired a revolution. The soulful melody brought attention to the need for change in a world full of discrimination, narcissism, and neglect, while provoking the thought that change begins with ‘you’. 

Michael Jackson was anything but ordinary, after his release of “Man in the Mirror,” many wondered if he struggled with his own identity. His career took off at the age of eleven, when he performed with the Jackson Five a number one hit, “I Want You Back,” as an African American with phenomenal dance skills and a funky afro, that won the hearts of millions. Although, he broke racial barriers as a successful African American performer, he began to alter his image. Furthermore, people began to think his new appearance related to his struggles with life in the limelight. He was addicted to frivolous spending, drugs, fame, and makeovers. His frail frame and strange appearance were said to reflect the struggles within society itself (Aoun, 2009). Although, he was chastised for his strange facade, he was left a mystery even after his death (Hodari Coker, 2004). Michael’s struggle to find his identity gives “Man in the Mirror,” a relatable message, which inspires people to change to better themselves, rather than trying to please others. Michael appeared to live his life trying to please the media, and his song “Man in the Mirror” represents his struggle with finding out who he wanted to be, and how he wanted to be part of a greater movement.

Notably, one can infer Michael’s desire for change began as he looked at his life compared to those who had nothing. He turned his back to homeless children in the street, while popping the collar of his fancy winter coat, a scene that provokes a feeling of empathy (Lines 6-9). Michael reaches his epiphany as he asks himself, who am I to be blind to a world where people have nothing to give or offer (Lines 6-11). “I’m starting with the man in the mirror/I’m asking him to change his ways,” the most inspiring lyrics that call for action (Lines 18-19). Michael suggests that change within begins the journey to changing the world for the better. A message stated during a time of social inequality, and financial distress. He describes the homeless as a broken soul with no place to go, to represent the lack of power the homeless have to change their circumstances (Jackson, Lines 13-17). Michael inspires others to take a step back and view themselves as the change they want to see in a world full of selfishness.

Ultimately, Michael examines poverty in “Man n the Mirror,” and uses it as his platform to highlight the importance of change. President Ronald Reagan was responsible for guiding the economy during the 1980s. Under Reagan’s control, national debt rose past $3 trillion, and interest rates were high due to new tax reforms (“Reagan, Ronald,” 2015). Specifically, Michael focuses on impoverished children in “Man in the Mirror,” an issue faced in society in the 1980s(Lines 9-12). As a result of structural economic changes, about 20% of white children, and 45% of African American children were left impoverished in 1987 (Segal, 1991). Michael uses “Man in the Mirror,” as a way to protest the injustice, children endured during this time, and encourages others to use their voice for those without.

Due to newly developed synthesizers and growing media, pop culture became part of the political and social aspects of life in the 1980s. Stars like Michael Jackson himself, influenced the culture of the time period by performing songs with messages beneath the surface. Music began to reach mass groups of people, thus creating a new wave of beliefs and ideas in society. The United States was vastly influenced by art, literature, and music, as the desire for cultural diversity grew (Lansford, 2016). Michael’s relevance was said to increase after his death, much like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Prince, all of which had individual influences on culture. Through generous donations, inspiring music, and social protest, Michael Jackson was able to use his legacy as an aid for reform. Today, Michael is remembered for his contributions to society and overwhelming talent (Harding, 2010).

Finally, Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” brings attention to the need for change, while the world is struggling to fight battles with hunger, poverty, and unemployment. He asks his listeners to take a step back and analyze themselves, while considering what impact they could have in the world. He raises awareness of discrimination and poverty, while considering a feasible solution to the circumstances. Michael points out the need for greater involvement in giving as opposed to receiving. Today, America still faces similar issues, and could benefit from greater involvement in organizations. Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” highlights the importance of change in a growing society filled with crime, racism, judgment, and neglect, and explains that it only takes one person to make a difference.

Works Cited

  1. Aoun, Steven. “MICHAEL Jackson: The MAN in the MIRROR.” Metro, no. 162, Sept. 2009, p. 166. EBSCOhost,,custuid&;amp;custid=s8455861&db=f6h&AN=45648594&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  2. Harding, Cortney. “Michael Jackson: It’s a Wonderful Afterlife.” Billboard, vol. 122, no. 25, 26 June 2010, p. 16. EBSCOhost,,custuid&;amp;custid=s8455861&db=f6h&AN=51802477&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  3. Hodari Coker, Cheo. “Man in the Mirror.” Essence, vol. 34, no. 12, Apr. 2004, p. 186. EBSCOhost,,custuid&;amp;custid=s8455861&db=f6h&AN=12600844&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  4. Lansford, Tom M. “Popular Culture.” Encyclopedia of American Studies, edited by Simon Bronner, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1st edition, 2016. Credo Reference, Accessed 29 Mar 2018.
  5. Michael Jackson. “Man in the Mirror.” Man in the Mirror, West Lake Recording Studios, California, 5 Jan. 1987.
29 April 2022
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