MJJF presents information that the public can use to arrive at reasoned opinions about the allegations against Michael Jackson. Child molestation is a horrific crime, and victims should be respected when they come forward. However, we should also be cautious about the validity of accusations, given that lives, careers, and reputations are at stake. Before forming an opinion, it is the responsibility of any consumer of media to look carefully at sources, and to think critically. Michael Jackson is no longer with us, but his family and fans are being terribly hurt by the recent HBO show Leaving Neverland.
Leaving Neverland is being heavily promoted on CNN. HBO and CNN are owned by the same parent company that benefits from the financial success of the HBO program. Defamation laws do not apply to the deceased, and there was no attempt made for balanced reporting in the HBO show. The film masquerades as a “documentary,” yet is a one-sided presentation of a narrative by two middle-aged men who claim to have been molested by Michael Jackson as children. Their narrative has changed several times, from unwavering support to vague accusations, and now to specific details, which also morph as time passes. As a one-sided program, Leaving Neverland is not a documentary, but propaganda. The public should be aware that Robson’s and Safechuck’s efforts to extract money from the Jackson Estate have been ongoing for years, with a civil suit against the Estate, and a book-deal that they’ve been (unsuccessfully) peddling for many years.
Robson’s Hollywood career has not panned out, and in his thirties he suddenly “realized” he had been molested by Jackson. He and another failed child-star, James Safechuck, sued the Michael Jackson Estate. Their lawsuit has been unable to move forward. Then Robson tried for a book deal. That was unsuccessful. Enter, the Leaving Neverland HBO program, which can be seen as yet another income-generation scheme. Robson has also initiated a crowd-funding attempt, called the “Robson Family Fund,” a nonprofit set up to receive personal donations.
About the HBO show, the Michael Jackson Estate has written: “…rather than let viewers weigh all the evidence and decide for themselves if the subjects are telling the truth or lying, HBO forces the filmmaker’s storyline down every viewer’s throat, allowing no time in four hours of viewing for even a scintilla of the volumes of conflicting evidence.”
We at MJJF are hoping that viewers of the program and its commentary and promotion will understand that it’s necessary to dig deeper and think critically before passing judgment. We think this HBO program is just another example of how careful we must be about recognizing media-spin, and in continuing to think critically – about anything.