For almost three decades (if not more), millions of people watched Michael Jackson perform, on stage, in video. They also saw him alight from planes, from cars, and from there, walk into hotels and stadiums, living the life of a peripatetic, performing celebrity. On almost all of these occasions he was accompanied by his ‘sexual partners.’ Those scare quotes are necessary because unlike the typical male celebrity who flaunts his ‘trophy chicks,’ Michael Jackson showed off his young boys. They went everywhere with him like the girlfriends of male celebrities do; they were present in his hotel rooms; they slept in his bed at his ranch. They had privacy together; and they had sex. Of course, I should not use the phrase ‘had sex’ here. Rather, those boys were made to perform sexual acts at the behest of Michael Jackson who then swore them to secrecy on pain of the fear that their lives would be ruined.
Watching Leaving Neverland confirms, in some measure, what many folks thought of all those exceedingly strange visuals of Michael Jackson’s curious obsession with children. Yes, something really, really weird was going on. We weren’t mistaken. And it wasn’t just weird. It was downright sadistic and cruel: a grown man sexually abusing children, and manipulating them and their families to ensure their secret stayed just that.
The culture of celebrity worship that is exposed in this movie is as much a culprit as Jackson, as much a culprit as the parents of Wade Robson and James Safechuck who handed over their children to Jackson. So is a grim lesson of American life: hard work will not make you money, it will not get your children in school, it will not keep you safe, it will not bring you success in your profession; so if someone rich and famous and powerful–like Michael Jackson–offers you a hand, offering to pull you up the ladder, past all those social and economic obstacles that prevent you from winning in this rigged game, you should take it. Robson’s and Safechuck’s parents did; their children paid for their decision.
Leaving Neverland is not about indicting Michael Jackson. He will not pay for his crimes; he is dead. What it most certainly is about is making the world safer for all the children out there who are still being sexually abused and who will almost certainly be abused if the lessons of this documentary are not heeded. The saddest thing about Leaving Neverland is not just the stories of sexual abuse that it documents, it is also the knowledge that despite these testimonies, there will be those who will continue to attack Robson and Safechuck and defend Jackson, making the world a less safe for all of its children. Those Michael Jackson supporters who have continued to support their idol and have chosen to abuse Robson and Safechuck, have missed the point spectacularly–just like they missed the evidence piling up over the years. There is no material sense in which Jackson will pay. Perhaps his estate and all those who stand to make money of his name will. Maybe that’s why they continue to defend him?
One thought on “Leaving Neverland Is Not An Indictment; It Is a Plea For Safety”
This article is so incredibly right on. It expresses exactly what I took away from the 2-part documentary. And if we as a civilization do not heed what is shown and exposed in this incredibly gripping 4-hour doc, we are pretty much doomed. Our children are doomed. We look at it now and say to ourselves how could a mother, an adult, have let a young child share the bed with an adult male and somehow think it was okay. But there was one thing that Wade Robson said in the interview with Oprah Winfrey which really struck me and I think answers that question. He said the he and his family were literally being groomed before they ever left for the USA for the first time. When I think about that I realize that the whole world was being groomed by Micheal Jackson and his team and they did an incredible job! We were all led to believe and perceive him exactly as they wanted us to and we, as a world audience, fell victim to it! We look at it now and think how could we have been so naive, but, hey, they worked us pretty good. “He was an angel. He loved children. He cared about the world. He was very giving, loving. Yes, okay. He’s a little out there, but he’s a pure soul. How could we, the world as tainted as we are, understand him?” And so on and so forth.
I want to thank Dan Reed so much for bringing this to light. May it save thousands of children who would otherwise be diminished in their life from abuse!