“Leaving Neverland” premiered tonight on HBO. Directed by Dan Red, the documentary is about child abuse allegations against the late Michael Jackson. Twitter had mixed reactions from outrage that the documentary even aired to the hashtag #MJInnocent to people glad survivors are being heard.
According to Rolling Stone, the film’s synopsis is described as “At the height of his stardom, Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families. Now in their 30s, they tell the story of how they were sexually abused by Jackson, and how they came to terms with it years later.”
Jackson’s estate told TMZ back in January, “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson. The so-called documentary is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project”.
In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy. In January of 1994, Jackson reportedly settled for $23,000,000. The accuser’s father committed suicide in 2009, five months after Jackson passed away. Jordan Chandler reportedly has never come forward about the allegations and supposedly lives outside of the country. In 2017, when choreographer Wade Robson accused Jackson of sexual assault—even though he’d said in the past the singer didn’t assault him—there was a hunt to find Chandler. According to The Daily Mail, he left the U.S. to avoid investigators.
In 2003, Jackson was charged with seven counts of child molestation and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to a 13-year-old boy. He was acquitted of all charges.
Many people are saying the doc is untrue, including Brett Barnes, who knew Jackson when he was child the doc. According to TMZ, the film “implies Jackson molested him as a boy. As for why Barnes thinks this … Wade Robson — one of Jackson’s well-known alleged victims — claims in the doc, Barnes ‘replaced him.’ The film then shows Michael and Brett together on tour. Thus, the insinuation.”
Barnes has threatened HBO with a lawsuit “claiming the documentary puts him in a false light and subjects him to ‘hatred, contempt and ridicule.’ Presumably, the lawyer is saying MJ supporters will target Barnes as a result of the documentary.”
Barnes testified at Jackson’s criminal trial in 2005 and said he was never assaulted by Jackson. He also tweeted this in January, “Not only do we have to deal with these lies, but we’ve also got to deal with people perpetuating these lies. The fact that they fail to do the small amount of research it takes to prove these are lies, by choice or not, makes it even worse.”
See the reactions below: