"Man in the Mirror" encapsulates the conflicted personal life of an extremely public figure. Michael Jackson is famous as one of the most talented pop singers that ever lived—but he is equally famous for being eccentric, at best, and a child molester, at worst. Produced at the peak of his career, "Man in the Mirror" pre-dates Jackson's gradual loss of credibility in the public sphere. The emotional, introspective tone of the pop song, with its exuberant display of Jackson's vocal talents, is a signature for the larger-than-life singer.
The discrepancies between the public face and voice of the singer and his little-known private realities will probably never be fully sorted out. Whether or not a genuinely sensitive guy, concerned with social change and personal improvement, really existed behind the singer's ever-changing face, "Man in the Mirror" leaves us with an impression of the idealized, innocent, and brilliant young Michael Jackson his fans first knew, and still hold onto.