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Review: Leaving Neverland on HBO

Keith Higgons

Posted on March 4, 2019 16:05

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King of Pop Dethroned?

Leaving Neverland, HBO’s two-part Michael Jackson documentary, directed by Dan Reed, is out. It focuses on the stories of two Michael Jackson child protégé’s, James Safechuck and Wade Robson. There’s no way to unpack it all here, but here’s what you should know.

Safechuck's and Robson's stories are tough. They're brutal. What the two boys were allegedly subjected to under the instruction of Jackson is . . . I’m not sure I have the right word for it. I’ll settle on grisly. What they (and probably far too many others young boys) were subjected to was grisly. Consider yourself warned.

You can blame the mothers. You should. But be careful and be kind. Placed in perspective he was, literally, the biggest star in the world. Just try to think about that. He was famous for his enormous talent . . . not his number of Instagram followers. And he was paying attention to their family! I'm not sure there's a modern equivalent. I defy anyone who wouldn’t be star struck by that.

You can puff out your chest and say, “I would never do such a thing.” I don’t know if that’s being completely honest. As a culture we have always been too easily star struck. 

And both mothers cop to the mistakes they made and admit to scratching their heads as Jackson’s predatory behavior began to intensify. Unfortunately, they were both so enamored with everything that they accepted things that no typical soccer mom would accept from a neighbor. And when both women find out what happened to their sons, there is real pain and anger.

Some may say Jackson was never convicted of any impropriety with a child. True. He settled out of court in the 90’s for a rumored 20 million dollars. And he was found “not guilty” in the case against him in 2005. To be clear, only he and his legal team ever declared him “innocent”.

"Not guilty" is not the same as innocent.  

Jackson’s behavior was always tossed aside with “he never had a childhood” or it was the “quirky benign behavior of a genius”. And sure, Jackson didn’t have a childhood, he was a musical genius and he could be quirky.

But he was also savvy and very manipulative. To accomplish this kind of stuff he had to be.  

As good as this documentary is, it doesn’t solve anything, but nothing can be solved now. We can only learn and heal. I’m also not sure it will change anyone’s mind. Like Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland adds more names and faces to the stories we know. And that helps give the stories and allegations context.

Leaving Neverland is important because it adds more pieces of the puzzle to the life of Michael Jackson. It brings the picture of the man, not the artist, into better focus. And that man was a monster. Truly.

Some will call it sick. Some will call it unhealthy. Others will call it lies.

But there is a word for it, it’s pedophilia.

Keith Higgons

Posted on March 4, 2019 16:05

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Source: HuffPost

News reports from the period depicted in “Leaving Neverland” show how Jackson carefully controlled his image, thanks to an...

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