Without a shadow of doubt 'Leaving Neverland' is hard to watch, but it also raises a question; why did the parents leave their children alone with Jackson?
Fourteen years after Michael Jackson was accused of molestation and put on trial 'Leaving Neverland' premiered on March 3 and 4. 'Leaving Neverland' is a 2019 documentary film that focuses on two men, Wade Robson, and James Safechuck, who allege they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson when they were children. The documentary features interviews with accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck and their families. Even though Jackson was never charged for any crimes committed against either of them, he did go to court in a much-publicized case related to another accuser.
The 2005 molestation trial against Michael Jackson made international headlines, but he was acquitted of all charges. There are many disturbing moments throughout the documentary directed by British film-maker Dan Reed that was broadcast on Channel 4 last night, but, not all the shots were directly featured on Michael Jackson.
The sheer bravery and courage of Wade Robson and James Safechuck for their accounts of abuse at the hands of Jackson is highly commendable and hugely endearing. #leavingneverland— Erin Brown (@Erin_Brown0210) March 7, 2019
An instance in the documentary, where it is revealed that the parents of Wade Robson left him with the star at his Neverland Ranch to go off on a road trip, and they have only spent a few hours with the King of Pop before leaving their son with him.
Another similar instance was when the mother of Jimmy Safechuck, another one of the children who Jackson abused sexually for about seven years. Safechuck describes life in the pop star's mansion with breathless enthusiasm. He said, "He flies you first class, you have a limo waiting for you at the airport — it's amazing!"
But, even though as lovely as it sounds, it begs the question amidst all the controversy, how can they leave their children like that? Without any question? Did it not cross their mind even once that there could be some kind of agenda going on? What was the reason behind Michael Jackson flying their young, beautiful boy all around the world in first class? Could there be a price to pay for his too-good-to-be-true generosity? For a very long time now, Jackson's well-documented interest in children, particularly in young boys have been documented for quite some time now, and it hid a very disturbing truth.
In the documentary, it also said that while Jackson, made billions of dollars for being a musical genius many accused him of being a serial pedophile who skilfully groomed not only his victims but also their entire families. As the parents stated in the documentary, he took advantage of the parents' starry-eyed phase and brainwashed them in a way that they gave up their precious sons in exchange for a whiff of celebrity and a stayover for a few nights in a fancy hotel suite.
But, having said that, these allegations were never proven 100% correct. It is all well and good to say that we should consider someone innocent until proven guilty and trial through television documentary is not a way to hold someone accountable, however, it is also true that these testimonies are indeed very powerful.
From the documentary, we can see the testimonies are intense, moving and, at times, deeply distressing. The abuse faced by Robson and Safechuck is described in graphic, unbearable details. Apart from that, the pain and anguish faced by Safechuck and Robson in the hands of Jackson are also very much evident in the documentary.
#LeavingNeverLand how can anyone defend MJ! He groomed these kids for years before abusing them! & no one realises? Something really wasn’t right 👀— . (@xjamieleax) March 7, 2019
This documentary has raised an ocean of questions and the public is majorly divided among two groups. One of them think that Jackson is completely innocent and this is a cheap publicity stunt pulled by these two families to get some easy cash, and the other group thinks that without a doubt they are sincere about every word they say. It goes without saying that there is no incontrovertible proof that Jackson had sex with these men when they were just boys, in case of one of the boys, when he was just seven years old.
But one cannot deny that there is a sea of overwhelming circumstantial evidence that cannot be ignored anymore. In particular, the fact that like many serial sexual offenders Jackson had a perfect modus operandi in his pocket. The children that he chose were star-struck by him.
Not only he became friends with the children, but he also became close to the parents of these children. In most of the cases, the parents themselves were huge fans of Jackson and his music. He slowly started being friends with them and became an integral part of their lives in the process.
He flattered the children by making them believe that he prefers their company over anyone else's and gave them a very teasing glimpse of his lavish celebrity lifestyle. Jackson also promised these boys to help them with their future careers and that appealed to their ambition and also their parents'. As said in the documentary, he only made his move once he was sure about his groundwork. Apart from Safechuck and Robson, there was also a third victim named Jordan Chandler. Chandler's parents filed a case against Jackson in 1993 and charged Jackson with 'sexual battery'. Interestingly enough, during that time, Safechuck and Robson stood up for Jackson.
Robson told CNN that the 'sleepovers' at the singer's house were completely innocent and nd Safechuck testified in his defense. This puts a huge dent to their claims, discredits their present testimonies, and shows them as money-grabbing people. But, a large number of people don't believe this as they believe the sincerity of the victims are very much visible in the documentary and it is also easy to understand why they took their abuser's side when they were children. Similar to countless victims of sexual abuse, they believed that Jackson loved them. And they loved him back. So it was their natural instinct to protect him. More so when there is a rival who can claim their share of affection.
One of the most the most moving moments of the documentary is when Robson talks about the betrayal of seeing Jackson with his 'new friend', the child star Macaulay Culkin. Robson said, "He and Michael had all the connection and secret things that Michael and I had."
When he talks about this particular moment, the jealousy, betrayal, and the hurt are all very raw in his voice. His mother described also chimed in saying that the attention Robson was received completely dried down after Jackson became friends with Culkin. Culkin has always firmly denied being abused by Jackson.
Robson's mother said, "It broke my heart to see him waiting for that call. After a while, I realized there was a pattern. Every 12 months there was a new boy in his life." There is no doubt that the boys loved and adored Jackson and blindly believed him when Jackson said that they were special. Weeks before 'Leaving Neverland' premiered, Michael Jackson's estate issued a statement, as reported by Indiwire, that reads, "This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson…Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project."
In response to this statement, HBO released the following statement, reported The Hollywood Reporter, "Our plans remain unchanged. The two-part documentary, Leaving Neverland will air as scheduled on Sunday, Mar. 3 and Monday, Mar. 4. Dan Reed is an award-winning filmmaker who has carefully documented these survivors' accounts. People should reserve judgment until they see the film." The King of Pop was tried and acquitted of all these charges, but the documentary goes into the details regarding other allegations, continuing the conversation about Jackson's behavior and legacy.