Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, was a global superstar unlike anyone else. With an estimated 750 million album sales worldwide, 14 US number ones and 7 UK number ones, Michael Jackson was a larger than life pop star who in the eyes of his millions of fans could do no wrong. His gargantuan career began with the Jackson 5 in 1964 when he was just 13, but as is the case with so many child stars, his early fame came at a cost. Supposedly forced into the spotlight and abused by his father Joe Jackson, MJ was left with a void for a childhood – something he would later use to justify the unthinkable.
Last week Channel 4 released British filmmaker Dan Reed’s documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’. A damning set of stories told by Wade Robson and James Safechuck who claim Jackson sexually abused them when they were seven and ten-year-old boys. The programme delves into the lives of the two who retrospectively adored the pop star and through talent shows got the meet the man. Jackson befriended the boys and their families to the extent he would apparently call them for hours every day. Neverland was the estate Jackson purchased to turn into his own version of Disneyland. It was also the location he allegedly got the boys to play with his nipples and bend over to spread their legs whilst he ejaculated.
The accounts from the men in their 30s are nothing short of horrifying but despite their supposed sexual abuse, the documentary has sparked mass backlash. The king’s legacy has been jeopardised. It seems to have become a question of whether you believe these men or whether they are doing it for the fortune. MJ has been protected by the crowds who gathered outside Channel 4 as the deceased defenceless defendant.
A big question has consequentially been raised over whether Michael Jackson music should still be played on the radio, with stations across the world deciding to remove them from their playlists. Ben Sherlock Payne says, “I maintain in playing Jackson’s music, we are at risk of allowing sexual predators to have their voices heard, rather than taking a stand against sexual abuse.”
“By playing Michael Jackson’s music we are demonstrating that we would rather believe an out-of-touch singer who likely abused his power from fame over two innocent honest men that just want the truth out.”
“The accounts of Wade Robson, James Safechuck, and those close to them led me to believe, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Michael Jackson was guilty of paedophilic sexual abuse. Remember Jimmy Savile? All memory of him seems to have been erased from the public eye. If Jackson is similarly guilty, surely, we must think similarly?”
On the contrary Darby Knight says, “Should we stop listening to Thriller? Absolutely not. MJ’s music is the work of more than just one man.”
“If we stop playing his music, the hard work of others is wasted. Many worked tirelessly to bring his music to life: songwriters; producers; mixers; photographers; audio engineers; instrument technicians; publicity teams; artists who produce album and merchandise art. The little recognition they get is made up for in the credits they receive, the popularity of the final product and money made.”
“Pulling MJ’s music from playlists erases their life’s work and achievements. They are not guilty simply because of association. That doesn’t justify MJ’s alleged crimes, but why punish them for MJ’s actions?”
Jordan Sollof adds to the debate and says, “It is important to remember the positive light that the legendary musical icon shone on the world. His illustrious music career had a significant effect on people’s lives and he produced arguably some of the greatest music of all time.”
“He is not a convicted paedophile, and there may never be clear enough evidence against him. Why don’t we all just remember how talented Michael Jackson was and preserve a legacy that deserves to live on for many generations to come.”
Whatever your opinion is ‘Leaving Neverland’ is worth a watch so you can construct your own thoughts on the Michael Jackson situation. The hour and a half two-part program is available to stream on Channel 4.