Leaving Neverland Gets Mixed Reactions

Cristiano

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The first of the two part documentary Leaving Neverland. which alleges sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, aired on HBO, and it has produced mixed reactions.

Reactions to 'Leaving Neverland' vary. Some say Michael Jackson is a monster, others say film is flawed

The documentary is definitely very one sided, and hard to watch.

There is a website that documents the inaccuracies in the documentary in defense of Jackson:

Facts Don't Lie. People Do.

I'm not sure how I feel. The documentary presents a compelling story certainly, but it comes down to credibility - and there are some giant holes in the story, and some compelling motivations to lie. Abuse victims should always be believed until they give reason not to, and I'm torn here.
 

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That "defense" website has a few issues. Firstly, it's only an attempt to refute Robson and Safechuck. Robson and Safechuck are NOT the only sources of abuse allegations levelled at Jackson, nor were they the first. Secondly, many of the "facts" being brought up are just a tired old retreading of the the bog standard tactics used to defend abusers all the time. There's really nothing there that is particularly eye opening, of worthy of consideration. Painting abuse survivors as money grabbing liers with axes to grind is as prosaic as it is offensive.

I loved Michael Jackson's music. When I first heard of the original allegations against him I couldn't believe it. Since that day however, much more has come out. Even without Robson and Safechuck, I believe their enough evidence to suggest Jackson was a monster. Sometimes your heros don't just have feet of clay, they have bodies of radioactive shit.
 

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Yeah, I've yanked Michael Jackson off my playlists again.
 

Cristiano

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That "defense" website has a few issues. Firstly, it's only an attempt to refute Robson and Safechuck. Robson and Safechuck are NOT the only sources of abuse allegations levelled at Jackson, nor were they the first. Secondly, many of the "facts" being brought up are just a tired old retreading of the the bog standard tactics used to defend abusers all the time. There's really nothing there that is particularly eye opening, of worthy of consideration. Painting abuse survivors as money grabbing liers with axes to grind is as prosaic as it is offensive.

I loved Michael Jackson's music. When I first heard of the original allegations against him I couldn't believe it. Since that day however, much more has come out. Even without Robson and Safechuck, I believe their enough evidence to suggest Jackson was a monster. Sometimes your heros don't just have feet of clay, they have bodies of radioactive shit.

I've never been much of a Michael Jackson fan so I'm not blinded by his celebrity or anything. When the allegations first came out about him, I wasn't surprised. We'll never completely know the truth one way or another, but I don't think he's innocent by any means. However, there were previous cases where it turned out one of the people involved lied for the purpose of money. This documentary addresses the allegations of two people who I honestly don't find particularly credible. My instinct is still to believe them, but I don't blindly do so either. My own family was torn apart by sexual abuse, so I don't take it lightly.

There is also the issue of the FBI investigations into Jackson over 10 years. There was nothing ever found to substantiate abuse claims. That again doesn't mean he is innocent by any means. The files are in the public record now:

Michael Jackson

I think the documentary would have been more effective if it provided more context and balance. It comes off a bit as a hit piece because it is so one sided that one of the people alleged to have been abused by Jackson has sued to get his name removed from the film, which used his name without his consent and did not interview him. Perhaps he just wants to keep things private, but it is his story to tell, and he has denied Jackson did anything to him, while the film implies he was a victim.

It's also to hard to sort out anything when the accused is dead. Michael Jackson may very well have been a monster, but there are some serious flaws with this documentary that damage its credibility in presenting him as such.
 

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Just to be clear, Cris, my annoyance was directed at the people behind the link you cited, not at you.
 

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I don't think the documentary is flawed. It is certainly one-sided, but it doesn't pretend not to be.

The point of the documentary is to tell the alleged victims' stories. They do not owe Jackson equal time when telling their stories. If Jackson's supporters want to tell his side, they can make their own documentary.
 

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I don't think the documentary is flawed. It is certainly one-sided, but it doesn't pretend not to be.

The point of the documentary is to tell the alleged victims' stories. They do not owe Jackson equal time when telling their stories. If Jackson's supporters want to tell his side, they can make their own documentary.
I didn't think Jackson was owed equal time. However, the best documentaries still provide some level of balance - even to just note that things being presented have been disputed or that allegations have responses to them. Again, we'll never know the full truth, Jackson is dead, and even if he weren't, it comes down to who you believe. I don't believe Jackson was innocent, but I also right now don't believe the two accusers in the documentary are telling the truth either, so I am torn. I will watch more and read more and make up my mind.

For example, this NYT piece definitely takes the view of believing them, and I did find it a compelling read:

Michael Jackson Cast a Spell. ‘Leaving Neverland’ Breaks It.
 

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I perma-banned Michael Jackson from my play lists during the first trial. I just KNEW he was guilty as sin, and had basically bought his acquittal.

I watched part of Leaving Neverland tonight, and just felt so ill that I had to turn it off.
 

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I watched this and agree with others who said it was extremely difficult to handle. The details were upsetting but I made myself get through it because I thought it was so important to watch and know. As a kid in the 1980s I loved the Thriller album and I even had Michael Jackson tennis shoes. It’s still hard for me to separate my love for his music from the monster I now believe he was.

I "needed" this doc because prior to watching, I believed he had molested kids, but I had a different perception of his motives. I believed he was mentally ill and truly saw himself as a child, and that he didn’t fully understand what he was doing. I wouldn’t say I was sympathetic, but I didn’t feel the extreme hatred I would usually feel towards a pedophile. However, watching this documentary changed my opinion. Far too many of his actions were not that of a child/young teen in a man’s body, but a manipulative predator. He did know what he was doing and he skillfully groomed children and their families so he could take advantage of them. Like other "eccentric" serial predators such as George Hodel and H.H. Holmes, being rich and powerful meant he could engage in sick behavior on a grand scale. Most pedophiles don’t have tens of millions of dollars to build a whole amusement park on their property. He didn't just groom the kids he molested, he groomed the world into trusting and loving him.

At this point I would most like to see all those who enabled him be held accountable. He is dead, but I can’t believe no one around him knew what was going on. He was good at manipulating people, but I think as with similar cases like Sandusky and Nassar, some people saw things and said nothing.
 

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I was disappointed when I first learned that Robson -- who I had admired professionally for years -- had testified in favor of Michael Jackson, because it seemed pretty obvious to me that Jackson was a sexual predator. But I also could understand that Jackson, like many child predators, was the consummate seducer and that testifying against him was a daunting task on so many different fronts: Jackson's power, public exposure of your own sexual exploitation, public exposure of your family's failure to protect.

What I found especially compelling and persuasive was Robson's reason for finally revealing what was done to him. At the trial he had been focused on protecting Michael Jackson, a man Robson loved. He still framed their "special relationship" as a romantic connection. Then, when he became a father, he finally understood at a visceral level that what was done to him was sexual abuse.
 

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I "needed" this doc because prior to watching, I believed he had molested kids, but I had a different perception of his motives. I believed he was mentally ill and truly saw himself as a child, and that he didn’t fully understand what he was doing. I wouldn’t say I was sympathetic, but I didn’t feel the extreme hatred I would usually feel towards a pedophile. However, watching this documentary changed my opinion. Far too many of his actions were not that of a child/young teen in a man’s body, but a manipulative predator. He did know what he was doing and he skillfully groomed children and their families so he could take advantage of them.
Yeah I think that whole "he had the mind of a child" thing was never more than a bunch of BS made up by diehard fans trying to spin his obviously predatory behavior as innocent and misunderstood.

IIRC, a number of people who worked for Jackson DID come forward at various times to make it clear that it was painfully obvious something was very wrong between Jackson and his "special friends". Including during the trial. But since none of them directly saw him molest any kids his supporters usually dismiss the importance of what they've said. Anyone who bad-talks Jackson "just wants money" of course, which is a kinda hollow accusation anymore since there's no money left.

Neverland Ranch is for sale, btw, after extensive renovation to remove all the amusement park elements and the creepy-in-retrospect child statues. $31M currently, but that's down from $100M when it went on the market in 2015; I guess the price drops more every year.
 
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Beebo Brink

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Yeah I think that whole "he had the mind of a child" thing was never more than a bunch of BS made up by diehard fans trying to spin his obviously predatory behavior as innocent and misunderstood.
Even if you discount any sexual contact between Michael Jackson and children, he publicly flaunted the emotional abuse of his companions. He clearly had a "flavor of the month" -- some kid he would hoist on his hip and carry around, take on tour with him, shower with presents.... and then drop when the boy grew too old. That pattern of effusive adulation followed by abrupt withdrawal of attention is going to royally mind-fuck a kid.

Bearing the brunt of Peter Pan syndrome is brutal, even without getting literally fucked as well.
 

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I'm a bit mixed about documentaries like this. I do not subscribe to the idea that the other side should make their own, if they want to show that there are/were some non-truths in the first. I guess I am old-fashioned. I expect complete and 100% truth in a documentary. I know that isn't likely to happen anymore.

I, too, at one time believed that if he was guilty it was certainly because he, himself, believed himself to be, if not a child, child-like, and that somehow in his warped brain, that led to these abuses. He certainly went out of his way to project that image, with child-like movements, manner of speaking and of course, Neverland itself. I remember him being adored and pampered by people like Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross. There was very much a feeling of surrogate parent there.

I do wonder if we will ever get the unvarnished truth.
 
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Bartholomew Gallacher

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Such documentaries about dead people are always a bit troublesome, because the person being featured in cannot respond to it.

But anyway, I do believe firmly that due to his fucked up childhood Michael Jackson did a lot of things to the children on his ranch, including sexual harassment up to intercourse. There's always been too many of those accusations been flowing around that all could be possibly wrong.

He was by far means no holy man - we just tend to put our stars on such high pedestals, that we often quite forget that they are just human beings with their own needs and flaws, like everybody else on this planet.

The turning point for me back then was in 1993 when he paid 23 million US$ to the Chandler family. You just don't pay voluntarily - even as Jackson - such a big pile of cash of all accusations are just wrong - then you would fight to the end.
 

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I, too, at one time believed that if he was guilty it was certainly because he, himself, believed himself to be, if not a child, child-like, and that somehow in his warped brain, that led to these abuses.
Why did you stop believing that? It's not inherently incompatible with the abuse he committed. Jackson was drawn to young boys, both emotionally and physically. From what Robson and others describe, the relationships that Jackson developed with them were intensely emotional, not just sexual. And then Jackson's attention moved on, like a kid tired of an old toy. That emotion was not bogus just by nature of being short-lived.

Being "child-like" was not necessarily some mask Jackson was wearing. Being a child is not synonymous with innocence. Children are capable of strong emotion, thoughtless cruelty, self-absorption and manipulation. The danger, in fact, was that Jackson had all the self-centered amorality of a child, wedded to the power and authority of a very rich adult. He could indulge himself in a way that few children can.
 

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Why did you stop believing that? It's not inherently incompatible with the abuse he committed. Jackson was drawn to young boys, both emotionally and physically. From what Robson and others describe, the relationships that Jackson developed with them were intensely emotional, not just sexual. And then Jackson's attention moved on, like a kid tired of an old toy. That emotion was not bogus just by nature of being short-lived.

Being "child-like" was not necessarily some mask Jackson was wearing. Being a child is not synonymous with innocence. Children are capable of strong emotion, thoughtless cruelty, self-absorption and manipulation. The danger, in fact, was that Jackson had all the self-centered amorality of a child, wedded to the power and authority of a very rich adult. He could indulge himself in a way that few children can.
Good points. I think right around the time that he got married and had his children. I began to see him, not as a stunted and flawed child-like persona, but a fully formed man with all that goes with that. In his defenses, he had always made out like he was nothing but pure innocence in that he had no designs upon these children, that he was just an overgrown child, who just happened to enjoy sleepovers. Right around the same time, more and more was coming out.