A few weeks ago, HBO released a two-part documentary titled Leaving Neverland; a documentary that explored pop mega star Michael Jackson’s relationship and alleged sexual abuse with two young boys.
Now in their thirties, the boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, stepped forward in the documentary and revealed chilling details of their experience with Jackson.
One scene includes Safechuck as he recalled all the places at the Neverland Ranch where Jackson engaged in sexual acts with him as a boy. In every possible place you could think of; from the movie theater to the train station, Jackson pressured Safechuck to perform a sexual act.
It’s a brutal examination of Jackson, revealing new information about his past, leaving the audience to process how he is perceived in the present.
It’s quite difficult to explain just how popular Michael Jackson was.
As someone who wasn’t alive during his peak years, it’s still astonishing to see his widespread appeal and the immense popularity of Jackson’s music.
The moonwalk is synonymous with Jackson. Thriller is regarded by some as the greatest album of all time. He was and is pop music.
So when deplorable information comes to the forefront about someone that was admired by so many people, it’s difficult to process the collective thought on the subject in question.
The HBO documentary does a remarkable job of handling such sensitive memories, that it’s quite difficult to watch.
Robson and Safechuck describe their past with forthright conviction that you can tell they have been juggling with these thoughts for almost their whole lives.
As described in part one, Jackson would gain the trust of the boys and parents in order to have control over both parties.
When Jackson had control, he was able to sexually abuse the boys, while maintaining the guise of innocence amongst the parents because of his celebrity status.
With the passing of Jackson, there is no way for him to plead his defense, so all we are left with is the words of the people that were close to him.
There is always a question, now more relevant than ever, of whether we can separate the art from the artist. Jackson’s stardom perhaps transcends that dilemma.
The universal love for his art goes beyond separation of the two.
The closest comparison of Jackson’s situation is probably Bill Cosby, and even still it’s a bit different.
Cosby matches the popularity and celebrity of Jackson, but was convicted in a court of law, but Jackson was not.
Most of the art created by Cosby has been removed from the circulation of all media, which leads to the question of whether or not the same should happen to Jackson.
Adam Brody, a former radio host at WAER 88.3 in Syracuse, NY, is also conflicted by the moral dilemma at hand.
“Everyone has at least one Michael Jackson song that they love,” said Brody, “But personally I probably wouldn’t play his songs on the air after hearing the stuff in the news, just to avoid any problems with the station or listeners.”
While Brody has his own opinion on the matter, not everyone agrees with his stance. With allegations of this magnitude there are going to be some people who express doubt and express their own thoughts on the matter.
Looking at the situation from an objective standpoint, you could build an argument that documentaries tend to be more subjective on the subject they are handling. Documentaries are built to lean one definitive direction and to make the audience side with the theme you are trying to portray.
One of the main arguments against the documentary comes from criticisms over the validity of the claims made by Robson and Safechuck. When Jackson was under trial, both Robson and Safechuck testified that he was innocent of any sexual abuse to minors.
It’s explained in the documentary as to why the two testified the way they did then, but that won’t stop people from pointing to that to support their own claim of Jackson’s innocence.
There is always going to be an ongoing debate on how this affects the legacy of Michael Jackson, it’s just the nature of the world we live in now.
There may never be a decisive answer as to what we should do with Jackson in terms of how he should be remembered in the history books.
Jackson was the gold standard to many people: he was the peak of celebrity that people looked up to and admired.
With the new information we have now, it’s okay to reflect and reevaluate how we look at him.
It’s okay to have logical and education conversations about this.
There is no need to quickly rush to judgment, the most important thing to do is to listen and understand the stories of those who have suffered.
PHOTO TAKEN from The Mirror