Abuse allegations again cloud Michael Jackson’s legacy
Few music-lovers would deny that the late Michael Jackson is one of the key figures in the history of pop, but doubts have once again been cast on his legacy due to his alleged sexual abuse of minors, as dealt with in the recent documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
The presumed crimes for years have cast the biggest shadow over the biography of the singer, the 10-year anniversary of whose death from a medication overdose will be commemorated in June.
The Jackson family and the fans of the “King of Pop” have always emphasized that he was never convicted of any such crimes, and in fact he was acquitted in 2005 in his trial for allegedly having abused a young boy while 11 years earlier he had reached an out-of-court economic settlement with the family of another boy who had accused him of similar conduct.
However, the screening of “Leaving Neverland” has dealt a harsh blow to the singer’s image that could change his legend forever.
The controversial film was screened first in January at the Sundance Film Festival, with the organizers of the event revealing at the last minute that the documentary directed by Dan Reed would be on the agenda.
The festival’s synopsis of the film on its Web site gave a hint of the storm of controversy that would surround Reed’s work:
“As one of the world’s most celebrated icons, Michael Jackson represents many things to many people-a pop star, a humanitarian, a beloved idol. When allegations of sexual abuse by Jackson involving young boys surfaced in 1993, many found it hard to believe that the King of Pop could be guilty of such unspeakable acts,” the Sundance festival said.
“In separate but parallel stories that echo one another, two boys were each befriended by Jackson, who invited them into his singular and wondrous world. Seduced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence and enthralled by their relationship with him, both boys’ families were blind to the manipulation and abuse that he would ultimately subject them to,” it continued.
Jackson’s heirs reacted immediately, saying, in a statement of their own: “The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism, and it’s not fair, yet the media are perpetuating these stories.”
“But the truth is on our side. Go do your research about these opportunists. The facts don’t lie, people do. Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations,” they added.
They went on to say that the “so-called” documentary is “just a reissue of old, unfounded allegations, and it would be surprising if any real director worthy of the name was involved in such a project.”
People who attended the Sundance screening of the four-hour documentary said that it was an explosive film, with very detailed discussion of the abuse of two young boys, ages 7 and 10 at the time, allegedly committed by Jackson.
The general public was able to view the film for the first time last week, when HBO, which produced the documentary along with Channel 4, broadcast it on cable television.
“Leaving Neverland” provides the detailed testimonials of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who have claimed to be victims of Jackson when they were young boys.
The controversy surrounding “Leaving Neverland” continues to swirl, especially on the social networks, where defenders and critics of Jackson are still facing off.
A few days before the HBO broadcast, the Jackson family sued the network.
According to Forbes magazine, in 2018 Jackson was the deceased artist who brought in the most revenue for his heirs - some $400 million in that year alone.