HBO’s Leaving Neverland two-part series took the world by storm last week when two of Michael Jackson’s accusers revealed in great graphic detail about being allegedly sexually abused by the superstar when they were as young 7-years-old.
The harrowing documentary was met with those who believed the two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and those that attacked their credibility, shaming them for making such false accusations.
But you might be surprised to learn that the documentary was hugely controversial in this country.
His musical and dancing talents were so culturally significant; you’ve probably seen hundreds of articles written in the last week about how, if you can, separate the art from the artist. Those articles are a desperate cry for help by the author to seek validation about whether it’s okay to listen to his music.
Regardless of where us Americans stand on that issue, there’s no question that although Michael Jackson might be one of the country’s most famous icons ever, he transcended worldwide on the same scale.
In the country, Brits poured into the streets and plastered double-decker buses with messages geared towards calling the accusers liars reading, “Facts Don’t Lie”, with a crowd-funding site called mjinnocent.com that you can visit.
It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday nights; Part 1 reeled in 2.4 million viewers while Part 2 landed 2.1 million.
Meanwhile, BBC reported that a statue of Michael Jackson had been removed from the National Football Museum in the northern English city of Manchester that was likely done due to the word of mouth this documentary has been receiving since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
The divide is real and it’s happening all over the world. Most people are accusing the deniers of being biased but there is a real case about Robson and Safechuck’s credibility.
First of all, they denied accusations that this happened to them for decades and even publicly defended Jackson when he was charged in the early 1990’s and 2000’s, both incidents, with a slew of charges, he was found innocent for.
Secondly, both Robson and Safechuck sued Michael Jackson’s estate, only after he passed away, for an eye-popping $1.5 billion.
Here’s a timeline published by Forbes that shows what happened in the years leading up to the accusers deciding to move forward with Leaving Neverland.
- In 2011, Robson approached John Branca, co-executor of the Michael Jackson Estate, about directing the new Michael Jackson/Cirque du Soleil production, ONE. Robson admitted he wanted the job “badly,” but the Estate ultimately chose someone else for the position.
- In 2012, Robson had a nervous breakdown, triggered, he said, by an obsessive quest for success. His career, in his own words, began to “crumble.”
- That same year, with Robson’s career, finances, and marriage in peril, he began shopping a book that claimed he was sexually abused by Michael Jackson. No publisher picked it up.
- In 2013, Robson filed a $1.5 billion dollar civil lawsuit/creditor’s claim, along with James Safechuck, who also spent time with Jackson in the late ‘80s. Safechuck claimed he only realized he may have been abused when Robson filed his lawsuit. That lawsuit was dismissed by a probate court in 2017.
- In 2019, the Sundance Film Festival premiered a documentary based entirely on Robson and Safechuck’s allegations. While the documentary is obviously emotionally disturbing given the content, it presents no new evidence or witnesses. The film’s director, Dan Reed, acknowledged not wanting to interview other key figures because it might complicate or compromise the story he wanted to tell.
That’s why many called the documentary “woefully one-sided” because it made no mention of any of these facts.
With that said, at the behest of all of those facts, it’s hard not believe the accusers who both clearly suffered from Stockholm Syndrome because they seemingly harbored no resentment towards Jackson.
In the meantime, Taj Jackson, Michael’s nephew, has raised almost a million dollars to produce a documentary detailing the superstar entertainer’s side of the story.