Michael Jackson Documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ Portrays Him As Serial Predator
‘Leaving Neverland’ is an explosive documentary on Michael Jackson that portrays him as a serial predator. Critics are calling it devastatingly powerful. Jackson’s family calls it a hit job. It highlights allegations of sexual abuse against children and left many in the audience sick to their stomachs after watching it. If you believe the production, you will never think of Michael Jackson the same way again.
The film is four hours long. It centers around the testimony from two of Jackson’s accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The documentary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Afterward, a number of critics took to Twitter to express their shock at the content of the film. The production is set to be released on HBO this spring.
Indiewire’s David Ehrlich wrote: “You’ll never listen to Michael Jackson the same way again. In fact, you may never listen to Michael Jackson again at all.” The film was shown even though there were strong objections from the Jackson family and his estate. They deny all of the allegations.
Robson, 36, and Safechuck, 40, have both claimed for a long time that Jackson raped and molested them at his Neverland Ranch. They were seven and ten at the time. Rumors of Jackson’s preference for children are nothing new and have swirled for decades. The documentary is the result of extensive research and concrete evidence according to the producers and participants.
Critic Ehrlich wrote of the film, “It may not be much of a secret that Michael Jackson acted inappropriately with a number of young boys, but there’s no way to prepare yourself for the sickening forensic details presented in Dan Reed’s four-hour exposé.
“It’s one thing to be vaguely aware of the various allegations that were made against the King of Pop; the asterisks that will always be next to the late mega-star’s name. It’s quite another to hear the horrifyingly lucid testimony that stretches across the entire duration of “Leaving Neverland” as two of Jackson’s most repeat victims bravely lay bare how a universal icon seduced them away from their realities, splintered their families beyond all recognition, and leveraged their love for him into a disturbing litany of sexual acts.”
Ehrlich also says it removed all doubts surrounding Robson and Safechuck’s allegations.
“Not only do the documentary’s two main subjects perfectly corroborate their separate accounts in all of the most tragic of ways, but they do so with a degree of vulnerability that denies any room for skepticism,” he wrote before exposing graphic details in the film.
Variety’s Owen Glieberman also stated: “The sexual activities are described with unnerving candor, and one’s inevitable response is to recoil in horror at Michael Jackson’s predatory sickness.
“He was a serial pedophile who came on as a protector of children.
“At the center of the movie, though, is a fact that will remain (for some) controversial: that both Robson and Safechuck testified, during Jackson’s first criminal trial for child sexual abuse, that he was innocent — that he’d never done a thing to them that was inappropriate.
“The movie explains, quite believably, how this happened.”
Others have their doubts such as Daniel Fienberg with The Hollywood Reporter. However, there is a great deal of praise for Reed’s direction of the documentary regardless. Gregory Ellwood of The Playlist makes several observations about how compelling the film is, but notes in his review: “Considering Jackson’s legal cases, the sexual abuse itself isn’t surprising even if the details are.
“The power of “Leaving Neverland,” however, may be defined in its own legacy. It will be hard pressed to convince diehard fans to even consider this truth. That being said, these are the sort of heartbreaking accounts that not only could prompt other Jackson victims to come forward but, other victims of sexual abuse.”
Robson, who is an Australian-born dancer and is now 36, previously filed a lawsuit against Jackson’s estate in 2016 asking for $1.62 billion in damages. He claims that Jackson raped him from the age of 7 until he was 14. His lawsuit was eventually dismissed with the judge ruling that the singer’s estate could not be held responsible for the allegations being made by Robson. Robson had also testified previously that had never once touched him inappropriately or abused him during their time together.
From The Daily Mail:
He also alleged in his suit that Jackson lost interest in him when he turned 14, but prior to that had told the young boy: ‘We can never tell anyone what we are doing. People are ignorant and they would never understand that we love each other and this is how we show it. If anyone were to ever find out our lives and career would be over.'”
Also from The Daily Mail:
“Patrick Ryan of USA Today wrote: ‘Among the many, many disturbing revelations of #LeavingNeverland: MJ gave one of his young male victims jewelry in exchange for sexual acts, and even staged a mock wedding complete with vows and diamond ring.
“‘Many common parallels in victims’ stories: MJ grooming them to hate their parents and women in general, saying God brought them together, eventually ‘casting them out’ for younger boys. ‘There was a lot of jealousy and hurt. You were no longer special.”
“Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere tweeted: ‘Leaving Neverland is a horror film – an intimate, obviously believable, sometimes sexually explicit story of two boys who became Michael Jackson’s special ‘friends’ – i.e., lovers – while their oblivious parents went along. Jackson was a fiend – a smooth predator, a monster.’
“‘Feel sick to my stomach after watching Part 1 of #LeavingNeverland doc. Michael Jackson witnesses/sex abuse victims coming off very credible. It’s so sexually explicit that counselors are in the lobby,’ wrote Mara Reinstein of US Weekly.
“‘Shaking. Wow. We were all wrong when we cheered for Michael Jackson. He was a pedophile.’
“Eugene Hernandez, the Deputy Director at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, also provided some details, writing: ‘Halfway thru the doc, which in its 1st half graphically details Michael Jackson sexual abuse of Robson & Safechuck, I wondered why it needed 2 more hours… but in its 2nd half it reveals the journey of the victims to be able to talk about it.’
“He weighed in after the film as well, writing: ‘This is deeply moving exploration of abuse from the perspective of its victims/families. Overall well-shaped & constructed. Raises so many difficult questions abt parental roles, celebrity, secrets, fame, enabling behavior & abuse. Topics that could fill a 4-hour follow-up.'”
No matter what you think of Michael Jackson, the documentary is very disturbing, to say the least. Before the airing of the movie, the festival director issued a statement: “John Cooper warns the #LeavingNeverland audience that the docuseries contains explicit descriptions of sexual abuse involving minors and there are Healthcare professionals from the state of Utah in the lobby should filmgoers need to talk.”
Airing on HBO this spring, viewers will be subject to the message of the movie and will have to decide for themselves concerning its credibility.
Source: The Daily Mail