MJ's music albums from that era made him a legend among so many people; me included. Millions of kids imitated his famous moon walk and memorized the dance steps to the Thriller video.
I remember parties where the DJ put on that song - and everyone got into that video dance sequence like a marching band. Incredible.
He made being a Black/ African really cool even among people who were nominally racist.
Unfortunately he went downhill in the 1990s because of his sad and peculiar obsession with children. I think it was partly due to his harsh upbringing. He didn't have much of a childhood - his music career began at the age of 4. And his perverted desire manifested from that childhood trauma.
(In hindsight, it was cruel to laugh and make fun of his antics and bizarre behavior. It like mocking a person who is blind, deaf, or intellectually disabled. The poor brother just needed help. The problem was that with his success and material wealth - he just couldn't be stopped and placed into a mental clinic or sent to a place where he could receive help for his issues.
Perhaps in his mind he was still very much a child that hadn't grown up.