Robert Lockaby Staff Writer
On March 9, HBO released the documentary “Leaving Neverland” about the sexual abuse two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, endured as children at the hands of the late famous pop star Michael Jackson in the late 80s and the early 90s.
The documentary, created by Dan Reed, portrays the accounts of both men and their families. Through this, it examines the effects of the sexual abuse not only on the men, but also on the relationships they had with their friends and families. The film is named after Jackson’s home, Neverland Ranch, where most of the abuse took place, and also for the fact that it seems as though Jackson had “Peter Pan” syndrome, or in simpler terms, refused to act as a grown up and have responsibilities.
The first part of the documentary talks about the careers that both men had as kids and builds up to the sexual relationship they shared with Jackson. It is especially disturbing because they make it very clear that as children they thought this relationship was normal. The second part of the documentary evaluates the broader effects of the relationships and goes into a more detailed explanation of how they developed over their lives.
Overall, as a documentary that makes you reexamine a famous icon, it is gripping and thought-provoking. Safechuck and Robson are very convincing when telling their stories. Reed helps provide the evidence of the stories from photos Jackson had taken with the two boys and some videos he even recorded just for them.
The film is an analysis of the effects of sexual abuse on a child and the toll it has on everyone around them which makes for a very dark piece of work to watch. Some may say it confirms how much Jackson wanted to be a child again—to the point that he wanted to be around them and even go as far as to engage in sexual acts with them.
However, since its release, the film has received a lot of backlash from die hard Jackson fans as they tried to get the film pulled from the Sundance Film Festival, and even resorted to death threats towards Safechuck and Robson. Even though the film spawned an increase in sales of Jackson’s discography, it has also resulted in a backlash towards the pop star in the media. “The Simpsons” episode “Stark Raving Dad,” which guest starred Jackson, was pulled from circulation, Drake’s song “Don’t Matter to Me,” which features his vocals on the track, was removed from his recent tour, and a number of radios removed his music entirely.
The effect of the documentary is imminent and is a very sinister take on who Jackson really was as a person. “Leaving Neverland” is an impactful documentary that may turn the stomachs of its audience. It looks at how disturbing it can be for people to not believe allegations towards a person with a lot of fame.