Michael Jackson, the ‘King of Pop’, is an influencer and a legend in pop culture worldwide. His music, dance, and style has inspired people for decades and the loss of his life was one of the most talked about and mourned events for years. His dance moves are still being used in the dance world today and his music that goes with them still inspires dancers. His style was a trademark to his name and changed the fashion industry as well. Michael Jackson also shed light on issues in the world that many people did not want to speak of as well as donating to charities and funds to support diseases. He used his fame to do good in the world and was able to connect with people across the globe. He not only touched the people of America with his talents, he envisioned the world coming together in peace and harmony and created music that unified (Quinn, 2018). Michael Jackson is a significant influencer of many generations as he left a mark on the entertainment industry and all of society with his music, contribution to dance, and fashion while inspiring global change.
Michael Jackson’s legacy began in Gary, Indiana on August 28, 1958. His African American nationality would eventually turn into a major platform for his life philosophy and inspire others globally when he became so successful. Jackson began schooling at a public school in his hometown at a young age and set out to do music soon after that. He was only six years old when he joined the notorious group, The Jackson 5, in 1964. Jackson’s father managed the group of 5 booking them stage performances and appearances. Through all of this chaos as a young boy, school was not a large priority to him. However, through occasional private tutoring Michael eventually graduated from Montclair College Preparatory School. When Jackson grew older, he set out to make a solo career for himself in the 1970s. After his album ‘Thriller’ he was a phenomenon among the industry and was creating a statement in the music industry. Michael Jackson set a high standard for performers and musicians as he gave all the effort he had when he was on stage and creating music.
Michael Jackson’s philosophy of life and his career inspired people in every industry and part of the world. His career was heavily influenced and inspired by R&B and Soul artists such as Sammy Davis Jr, Gene Kelly, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Fosse. However, Jackson had much more to give than just through music. His philosophy of life was love. He wrote a 3-page letter explaining his goals, reactions to conversations about racism, and vision of the world. He wanted to capture and share with others the excitement and emotion of his industry and life, to teach others to love all people over the world equally as he did because he believed that all men are created equal, and inspire people to overcome prejudice. He did not think of himself as a philosopher, but instead someone who had a purpose in life that lived to express it. Throughout his forty-year career Jackson merged art forms, melded genres and styles, and promoted an ethos of unity in his work (Martin, 2015). Michael also produced an immense amount of work on different platforms on entertainment. Some of his most famous songs were ‘Beat It’, ‘Thriller’, and ‘Man in the Mirror’. Jackson’s fame cut across all demographics with the 1982 album ‘Thriller’, and ‘Billie Jean’ was one of the top hits from it (Catton, 2018). He also wrote literary works that included ‘Moonwalk’ and ‘Dancing the Dream’, as well as creating famous music videos such as ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’ all while making dance moves and costumes to inspire people for decades. His dance moves, like the moonwalk, were legendary (Caldwell, 2017). Michael Jackson incorporated his philosophy into each one of these aspects that changed the entertainment industry forever. Without love, whether it have been his love for music or his love for other people, Jackson may not have been the artist he was. This philosophy inspired him in creating all that he did artistically and in return inspired others as well.
Michael Jackson not only made an impact on people through his entertainment and philosophy, but he made an impact on a global level through his actions as a peacemaker. Jackson participated in humanitarian acts such as donating to charities and funds for diseases such as AIDS. He prided himself on helping to relieve the world of prejudice opinions and teaching people to love all equally, but one of his greatest impacts was through his role in music being an African American in a predominantly white industry that was still facing segregation and underrepresentation. He was the first non-white artist to have heavy rotation on MTV (Dwayne, 2016) and inspired other African Americans in the industry to break boundaries as well. He inspired these young African American entertainers to enter the industry despite the social injustices their culture faced. He broke down barriers of color and reinvented the possibilities in entertainment worldwide. In his own literary work ‘Moonwalk’ Jackson (1998) spoke that sometimes when you’re treated unfairly it makes you stronger and more determined. This exemplifies exactly why he was so inspirational to others worldwide. Fighting prejudice in the industry he adored only furthered his career and helped further other’s careers when they were not afraid to do what he did and show that African Americans could be entertainers too. Jackson is a beloved man among the world. He is said to have changed the world, being the first major black popstar post-civil rights. Like every other public figure, he had people that were not a fan of him, thinking he suffered the price of fame and gave his life to alcohol, drugs, and wild behavior. People will always be critics of his music and his decisions, however the majority of the world believed Jackson to be one of the greatest of all time. His talents were so impactful to the world of music, dance, fashion, and film. He was and still is recognized as a legend. Michael’s legion of fans remains as loyal today as they have ever been (Cadman & Halstead, 2007). His ideas and legend still live on in society today and I do not think they will ever die. His music and dance moves are still extremely popular and it is unlikely that people will forget them, and his ideals to impact the world in a positive way by spreading love and equality are still exercised as African Americans still suffer injustices today. Michael Jackson is a true legend that will not fade out.
On the dancing side of Michael Jackson and his legacy, he spoke volumes to what he believed dance does for people and the world; how it impacts people in such a positive way. He shared that “This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye, but the dance lives on” (Jackson, 1992). This metaphor is significant because it displays how much Jackson values dance. He believes that everything we do in our lives is a dance and movement of God, or the creator of the world. Even though people are born and die every day, the dance will never die because the world itself will not die. Jackson lives for dance and believes it fuels our lives. This also ties into to his philosophy of life that is love because dance is an expression of life and a way to express feelings and one’s self. Jackson believes in loving others and treating other equally, and in dance all are equal. Dance is a way that Jackson relays his purpose to others and helps others find happiness. This is why Jackson loved dancing so much and loved sharing his moves with the world. By spreading his legendary moves, people think of him, his dancing, his music, and his equal love for everyone. Dance may have been one platform in which he shared his abilities through, but it reflected many other aspects of life for which he preached about.
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Being a dancer, researching and speaking about Michael Jackson left me inspired and wanting to go dance. If I had the opportunity to create a simple folk dance to reflect his philosophy, I would want to do it in a well-rounded way in order to give everything he stood for justice in the dance. The main concept of the dance would be a type of self-expression to reflect love in the world, not hate. It would be danced to a fun and upbeat song like ‘Billie Jean’; music that would make you just want to get up and move. My dance would involve a large group of dancers transitioning in and out of the stage to create visuals and continuous movement showing the diversity among the industry that is constantly changing and evolving. There would be a breakdown section with movement that was detailed and intricate and danced by a small group of people to show that dance, especially Michael Jackson’s, is simplistic but also complex. It would include a lot of movement with much going on, but also having a center focus just like the way Michael Jackson commanded his audience’s attention. The movement would be bold and big while also being controlled and synchronized. It would appeal to many different types of audiences such as black and white, gay and straight, young and old, etc., having the power to bring people together just like Jackson’s music and performances did. I would want the dance to show how much Michael Jackson impacted the dance world and those who are in it. He contributed so much to benefit others in the future and that is still shown in the industry today.
In conclusion, Michael Jackson was a man of many abilities and a significant influencer through his humble character and loving heart. He not only aimed to help people find happiness through dance and movement, but to also make happiness for others through love and equality. He showed how dynamic he was on the stage creating an excess of entertainment for people for generations. Yet he also showed how dynamic his personality was through his charitable efforts and social platform of love. Although he passed several years ago, his legacy will never pass as he still remains one of the most influential people of all time in pop culture. Peacemaking is not only restricted to humanitarian acts but extends to producing something that gives someone hope and happiness. Things such as songs, powerful lyrics, and dance moves can push someone to keep going in life or love someone equally, and that is what peacemaking is all about. Dance has the ability to move people in ways that are even stronger than written or spoken words. Anyone has the ability to make an impact in this world and my hope is that people use Michael Jackson as an example that you can do anything you set your mind to, no matter your skin color or your sexual identification. Michael Jackson influenced the world through his talents and graciousness, and he will forever live on as a peacemaker.