TV Review: Leaving Neverland (Channel 4)

Aired on Channel 4 in March 2019, Leaving Neverland sees the testimonies of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who, now in their 30s, allege that they were sexually abused as children by the singer Michael Jackson. At the height of his stardom when he was 34 years old, Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10 at the time, and their families. The documentary, directed and produced by the British filmmaker Dan Reed, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and examines the effects on the boys and their families.

Rating:

This documentary hits hard with me but I will try to hold back my anger and disgust and justify my opinions a little. I also know that many people still believe that he is an innocent man and that there’s a lot of controversy around these men’s testimonies, so it’s a difficult documentary to review when there’s still so much discussion going on about the credibility of it.

So all I was say is this: Whether you believe that these men were sexually abused or not, Michael Jackson’s behaviour – the behaviour is proven and not in any doubt – was completely inappropriate as it was. I can’t understand why it wasn’t questioned why he had a new little boy to hang around with every year or so and that he was allowed to stay with them unsupervised. Whether things went any further than them only sleeping in his bed or not, Michael Jackson definitely had a lot of issues.

I’m too young to have been a fan of his, although I have previously enjoyed his music. But I’ve always felt uneasy about doing so, knowing the allegations but always keeping in mind that a person is innocent until proven guilty. This documentary brings to light many of the issues we have only speculated about the credibility of beforehand, and, for me, it is a deal breaker.

Personally, I believe these two men. You can spend a lifetime denying that something like this has happened to you and it takes a lot of courage to admit the truth to yourself, but also to tell the whole world about these painful and emotional details from your past.

It’s no wonder that more abuse victims don’t come forward when these two men have been treated the way that they have. But, hopefully, this harrowing documentary will leave people without any scepticism left about the sickening manipulation that these families were put through.

However, the way that these two mothers laughed throughout their interviews really infuriated me. I would never blame the parents because – as easy is it would be to say that they were fucking idiots to allow this to happen – they would never imagine that something so sinister was going on behind closed doors and that is something that you, eventually, have to forgive. Of course they could have done more, but that is probably something that has been going through their minds ever since. Their behaviour in this documentary, however, is very off-putting.

This documentary made me feel angry, sick, and heartbroken for everybody involved. Hopefully one day we will know the truth but, for now, I’m just glad that times are changing and that – whilst things like this still happen far too often – people are feeling more and more confident in speaking out about being victims of abuse and that, hopefully, huge scandals like this and many others from this era won’t go unnoticed as they once did.

The documentary is still available to watch on Channel 4’s website and their All 4 app.

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