Documentary

'Leaving Neverland' shows that we were all groomed by Michael Jackson

A documentary that lays bare Michael Jackson's alleged paedophilia will depress his fans, writes Jennifer Platt

17 March 2019 - 00:11 By Jennifer Platt
Michael Jackson with Wade Robson.
Michael Jackson with Wade Robson.
Image: Supplied

Complicit. It's not just the smell of Ivanka. It's a tough word to hear when dealing with allegations of sexual abuse. Even harder when it's me that's complicit. Us. The public. The fans.

After watching Leaving Neverland, the documentary about Michael Jackson's alleged paedophilia, I was depressed: "How did we allow this to happen?" Then angry: "Wish he was alive to face this!" Then sad: "Those poor men will forever have to live through this without getting any response from him". Then angry again: "We really need to do something, but what?"

I don't think anyone who watched the HBO four-hour documentary by Dan Reed could or should rightfully think that those two men - Wade Robson and James Safechuck - were lying.

What they have revealed is so personal, so frank, so disturbing and so awfully raw that it is sometimes hard to listen to. But listen we must. 

I know people who don't want to watch the divisive documentary. Ostrich-head-in-sand syndrome. They don't want their childhood memories sullied. Their adulthood challenged. Their ethics placed under their own scrutiny. Their playlists devoid of his music.

I understand. I was a fan who grew up in a family of fans. When Billie Jean was released we watched the music video almost every day. We children and the adults took turns in my grandparents' minuscule kitchen to learn the moonwalk on the slippery brown linoleum floors. We bought cheap moccasins and white socks.

Then my uncle managed to get hold of the VHS of The Making of Thriller. I think we all watched it about 50 times. I was about five years old and was sleeping over at my grandparents' home.

I heard the roar of the werewolf and the growling sounds of the zombies and pictured them pushing through the apricot-coloured wall in my aunt's bedroom. Then I heard the beat, "duh, duh, duh, dun... dun". That made me get up. I was brave enough to check what was happening.

And there they were: my uncles, eating ice-cream and watching the bestselling VHS. I happily joined them. From that day on, I was immune to horror. Or so I thought.

WATCH | The trailer for Leaving Neverland

Leaving Neverland is distressing. Robson and Safechuck tell us in explicit detail what happened to them as young boys who were allegedly sexually abused by Jackson. They were so little - Robson was seven and Safechuck was 10. It turns the stomach. Jackson groomed them and their families.

He dazzled their parents, befriending their mothers, and projected to them an image of a sad, lonely boy who just never had an opportunity to grow up. But if Robson and Safechuck are telling the truth, that image was inculcated to seduce. It allowed everyone to think it was okay for boys to share his bed. Not only did their families fall for this act - we all did. We were all groomed.

Michael Jackson with James Safechuck
Michael Jackson with James Safechuck
Image: Supplied

It's time we stepped back from our blind devotion to celebrities. It's time we stopped drinking, eating, using, swallowing anything they endorse without questioning it - be it coffee, beer, makeup or stupid slimming lollipops. If anything, in this age of information, we should be more enlightened.

And yes, it's difficult, particularly with Jackson. It's difficult not to have the deeply ingrained knee-jerk reaction of "he couldn't possibly".

It's tough because we all think we knew him. He was one of the first stars who grew up with us in our homes: on TV, on radio, in magazines, on our walls ...

However, now we should really be more inclined to believe victims rather than trolling and dismissing them, or accusing them of doing this for the fame and money.

Those who are saying Jackson is "innocent until proven guilty" should, at the very least, understand that it's difficult to prove sexual abuse has happened, and even more impossible years later when victims feel they can actually talk about it.

We should have learned our lesson by now. We shouldn't be looking at celebrities like heroes who can never do wrong.

As Tina Turner sings: "We don't need another hero."


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