Leaving Neverland is a two-part documentary series from filmmaker Dan Reed and chronicles the Michael Jackson sexual abuse allegations from the viewpoints of Wade Robson and James Safechuck. The series is available to watch on Demand from HBO now – This is my review:
At the height of his stardom, Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families. Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson.
It took about five hours of Leaving Neverland viewing time (including that Oprah interview special that aired after part two) to completely destroy Michael Jackson’s legacy in my mind. I will never listen to his music again after watching Dan Reed’s graphic and shocking documentary series. I can’t do it. Say what you will about Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who are finally opening up now about the sexual abuse they suffered while befriending the late Michael Jackson as children, but I believe them. I don’t know how anyone with a soul or any ounce of compassion inside them would dismiss these two men and their brave allegations of how they were sexually abused for so many years by the world’s most famous pop star. Fans will say oh, it’s a money grab – they lied in court years ago and said Jackson NEVER touched them inappropriately… After watching four-plus hours of Robson and Safechuck opening up about the abuse, there’s no way in Hell they are lying today. I’m actually scared for Safechuck’s well-being after seeing how wrecked he was emotionally on the Oprah interview.
As a journalist myself, I did find it odd initially and seriously biased when Dan Reed decided to not interview Jackson’s supporters, like his remaining family or even Macaulay Culkin who to this day is adamant that Jackson never abused him sexually. But after watching everything, I believe he made the right choice. Leaving Neverland began as a documentary about Jackson’s sexual abuse and turned into a remarkable examination of how victims live and deal with repressed emotions and suffering in the wake of being molested. It’s an incredible journey from beginning to end and Reed’s interviews with Robson and Safechuck are some of the most jaw-dropping conversations I’ve ever seen. The way these men detail their abuse as early as age seven and how they would talk about Jackson’s hair feeling like a brillo pad while he’s performing oral sex on them — at age seven mind you… It’s horrific, it’s extremely tough to digest and even though people joke that this film is only re-affirming everything that everybody has always known — hearing the specifics is haunting.
Some of the most interesting and nightmarish aspects of the film include Reed’s use of stock footage and family photos which show Jackson hanging out with these children and their parents so casually. We’d be hearing about how Jackson would like the boys to bend over naked on the corner of his bed and spread their cheeks while he masturbated, then a photo of Jackson’s goblin-esque face would appear onscreen and amplify the story to a whole other level. Reed did a magnificent job making a four-hour documentary series this intriguing. Leaving Neverland is a LOT of information and detail, but that’s why it’s so good… This is the final nail in a dead popstar’s coffin – a statement that both re-affirms how he was a paedophile and details how survivors of sexual abuse deal with the truth. It’s a masterpiece in several ways, not only because of revelations including the one where Jackson held a marriage ceremony where he gave an 11-year old boy a ring, but in how the film became such a powerful cautionary tale on how child molesters operate and in the end, how the survivors deal with a lifetime of suffering and confusion because they were groomed for so many years by a monster.
Everyone should watch Leaving Neverland and be forced to re-evaluate their opinion on Michael Jackson’s legacy. Is the documentary one-sided? Yes it is, but that’s by design. Say what you will about accusers Robson and Safechuck — and how they’re in it for the money or how they lied in court so why should we believe them now? I understand how that can plant seeds of doubt over the film’s authenticity – but watch it still and you’ll start to understand WHY they lied all those years ago. Everyone deserves to be heard and these two men are no different – the film will tell you exactly why that is. It is heart-breaking, vile and frightening. Safechuck’s mother (say what you will about her parenting skills and she’ll likely echo that statement too) has some of the best lines in the documentary, especially the moment in which she revealed how happy she was when Jackson died.
Michael Jackson wasn’t just the king of pop, he was the king of paedophiles too. Deal with it haters.