Man in the Mirror

"Man in the Mirror" (Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett, 1988). Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” a quintessential protest song of the MTV era, forces the listener to open his eyes and confront human suffering as a first step to peace: start with the man in the mirror. Along with the song’s lyrics, the video is a montage of images that forces the audience to bear witness to social harms around the globe. The video, one of the best of the MTV period, combines scenes of violence, protest, and reconciliation. Starting with the face of a starving Ethiopian child and transitioning to a homeless man pushing his cart of belongings, the video goes on to show major tragedies and positive human accomplishments from recent history: the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassinations, the Kent State shootings, the Iranian hostage crisis, the rescue of Jessica McLure, MLK, the Civil Rights movement, Mother Theresa, Lech Wałęsa, the Camp Davis Accords signing between Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, and Jimmy Carter, the IMF Treaty signing between Reagan and Gorbachev, Live Aid and Farm Aid, and other notable people and events. Jackson himself is absent from the video except for a brief moment when he appears among a large group of Asian youths giving peace signs. It’s hard to spot the King of Pop, but perhaps that’s the point. To be selfless. 

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change”