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HBO’s two-part documentary “Leaving Neverland” — which has been making news since its first public viewing at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year — is a remarkably effective, methodically built case alleging that the late Michael Jackson was a systematic predator and rapist of young children.
And its airing on HBO on March 3 and 4, despite pressure from the Jackson estate, is a moment worth noting and appreciating; though broadcasting the documentary is in keeping with the cabler’s general strategy of provocative and challenging art, it’s also a decision arrived at with a level of gumption unusual for as risk-averse a cultural moment as ours.
It’s hard to imagine HBO pulling “Leaving Neverland” from their schedule.
And it’s easy to imagine a world in which, out of the limelight, a decision was made early on that this project, a documentary that is not likely going to be the one thing that gets anyone to keep their HBO account active, wasn’t worth the long aftereffects.
In the film, he and Safechuck tell their stories in gruesome, indeed sickening, detail.
(A statement from the Jackson estate dismissed the allegations as uncorroborated “tabloid character assassination.”) I haven’t yet seen , but those who have report that the film paints a damning picture.
It’s hard not to walk away from “Leaving Neverland” convinced, once and for all, to put an indefinite hold on playing “P. T.” at parties, to rerank Jackson in the canon and quietly slip him out of the Spotify rotation.
The film sticks in a way no previous allegation had managed to; it becomes a longform attack on his legacy as it does the job it sets out to do, telling the frank and finally open stories of two men touched by trauma.
If the Jackson estate’s letter has done anything at all, one hopes that it has been to perform the so-called Streisand Effect — to call greater attention to a story kept under wraps for too long.
It’s the sort of story that takes real guts, and a strong footing in something as painful as reality, to broadcast, or to truly absorb.
t has been apparent since the mid 1990s that Michael Jackson was a child molester.
As was the case with Bill Cosby, the pattern of grotesque allegations has become impossible to ignore.
Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, have previously stated under oath that they weren’t victimized by Jackson when they were children.