Michael Jackson’s brothers Jackie, Marlon and Tito and his nephew Taj speak out against HBO child sex abuse documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
“Leaving Neverland” wrapped its two-part airing on Monday night, and the documentary hasn’t convinced everyone that Michael Jackson was a child molester.
Supporters of the singer, who died in 2009, were fired up over the HBO documentary, which premiered Sunday and wrapped Monday. In it, James Safechuck and Wade Robson claim Jackson sexually abused them as children. Jackson’s family denies the singer ever molested boys.
Reaction from Jackson fans ran the gamut from those who consider “Leaving Neverland” to be little more than a cash grab to those who came away believing the accusers. And there were plenty in between.
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Some critics thought “Leaving Neverland” needed to widen its scope.
“The R.Kelly doc had the man’s victims, family, ex-wife, inner circle/employees, mental health professionals, journalists and the elderly hs music teacher…yet #LeavingNeverland has the two ALLEGED victims and their families,” one user wrote.
“This documetary (sic) is unethical,” another shared. “If this documentary was about truth how do they not interview Brett Barnes and Maculey (sic) Culkin. How do you include the name of kids that said they were not molested by Michael Jackson?”
“Watching part 2 of #leavingneverland and 20 mins in it’s shocking to see how one-sided it is and the facts that are omitted,” another said. “Plus again, it’s quite a boring documentary LOL.”
Others saw the documentary as a way to profit off a man who’s been dead for a decade.
“The only thing that this ‘documentary’ proves to me is that the name Michael Jackson is still interesting enough to generate loads of money. And that’s what is all about for those boys: money,” a person wrote.
“Dawg I’m watching this #LeavingNeverland documentary and it’s SUUCCHH a money grab,” one person assessed. “Don’t bother with it.”
Another user, after professing Jackson’s innocence, said: “Even IF he was guilty, that is one artist I’m turning a blind eye towards. Sorry, not sorry. He did so much for the world, the music industry, and my childhood. No one’s tainting him for me. Everyone on #LeavingNeverLand looked money hungry.”
Another took issue with the notion that fans are “blindly” defending Jackson.
“Even if Michael Jackson did molest these kids, which he didn’t. He definitely paid the price. His life was a living hell. Just let the man rest,” another said. “And dont (sic) ever blindly beleive (sic) someone just because they make these claims. It could ruin some life”
“People think Michael Jackson fans defend him blindly, that isn’t the case at all,” the user posted. “We care & admire the man enough to do research and understand that this man is innocent of all the terrible things he’s accused of. Victim of extortion all his life. #MJInnoccent”
Similarly, another user tweeted: “#leavingneverland I watched this with an open mind. I didn’t want to believe it, but wanted to hear their side, and read what documents/testimonials/court paperwork others had. I still do not find anything to convince me MJ did what he is being accused of.”
“#LeavingNeverland No one with any sense is buying this,” a non-believer shared.
“Getting into this leaving neverland, just to watch how people lie,” another said.
Another said Jackson was the real “victim” in the scenario.
“Before I didn’t really know, but after this documentary I’m sure micheal (sic) was a victim and not the ‘accusers'” the person tweeted.
Another knocked “Leaving Neverland” filmmaker Dan Reed for making the movie after Jackson’s death.
“Not watching #LeavingNeverland and don’t ask me to discuss it,” a commenter wrote. “Michael Jackson is not alive to defend himself and at this point people can make up anything about him. I do believe the conversation of child sexual abuse needs to be had but using a dead man is not a good look.”
Others were more open to believing the alleged abuse survivors.
“I’m floored by the courage of James Safechuck and Wade Robson’s courage in relating the details of how they were groomed and abused by Michael Jackson,” a tweet in support of the accusers read. “It couldn’t be easy especially knowing how many refuse to still see Jackson as a pedophile.”
“Broken Pieces” author Rachel Thompson directed her remarks to those who voiced issues with how the documentary was done.
“It’s a documentary, not journalism, nor trial,” Thompson wrote. “Many child survivors don’t tell, and as adults, are terrified of damaging their reputations, particularly men. They know what happened and are dealing with it now. Your opinions DO NOT MATTER.”
For some, the documentary was enough to extinguish, or, at least lead them to question their admiration for Jackson.
“#LeavingNeverland destroys a Golden image,” a user wrote. “I implore every Michael Jackson fan to watch.”
“Many of us were children at the height of Michael Jackson’s child molestation allegations,” a user posted in an NSFW tweet. “It’s important we revisit the case and unpack our (expletive). It’s very possible that Michael Jackson could have been a monster.”
Others also spoke to reckoning with Jackson’s fame.
“The cesspool of comments under #LeavingNeverland are the perfect demonstration of why powerful pedophiles get away with their crimes,” another wrote. “Too many adults would rather bury the abused than unearth an abuser.”
Activist Blair Imani reminded her followers: “No matter how beloved the abuser, it is imperative to believe survivors. #MJ #LeavingNeverland”
“After watching #LeavingNeverland i just wish that MJ never died an icon,” another user wrote. “Theres no doubt in my mind that hes (sic) a pedophile and its sad that the world worshiped him for his entire life”
“#LeavingNeverland is.. hard to watch,” one said.
“#LeavingNeverland was incredibly powerful, sad and infuriating,” one said.
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