Shocking, disturbing: Leaving Neverland docu-film on Michael Jackson is 'an intense smear campaign'

The two-part HBO documentary Leaving Neverland on the legendary Michael Jackson's alleged misconduct with children, has left many people sickened in the stomach.
Michael Jackson's Leaving Neverland
Michael Jackson's Leaving Neverland

The two-part HBO documentary Leaving Neverland on the legendary Michael Jackson's alleged misconduct with children, has left many people sickened in the stomach.

One reviewer of the film said this was not merely because of the unforgivable sexual nature of the contact that Jackson was alleged to have made with the two men - who are now in their 30s and 40s - who speak about their fascination and abuse by the musical icon.

Actor Corey Feldman says he watched Leaving Neverland and found the documentary about late Michael Jackson to be shocking and disturbing.

The two-part four-hour long documentary is built around the testimony of adults - Wade Robson and James Safechuck - who allege that they were abused as children by Jackson. 

Feldman was criticised for defending Jackson with a series of tweets, insisting that the late singer never touched him inappropriately during their friendship. He appeared on TV on Thursday to clarify his previous remarks, reports said.

"I don't want to be perceived as I'm here to defend Michael Jackson because I can no longer do that. I cannot in good consciousness defend anyone who is being accused of such horrendous crimes," Feldman said. 

Referring to criticism of his earlier social media posts by other victims' advocates, Feldman said, "I certainly want to apologise if anybody took anything that I said out of context in those tweets, because it certainly wasn't meant in any way to question the validity of the victims." He said he found the documentary's two alleged victims to have "very compelling stories". 

"And both of these guys sound very believable, because they are talking about a cycle that's called grooming. And the grooming process certainly fits the mold, and that's why this case must be taken seriously - that's why all cases must be taken seriously." But Feldman, who was a frequent companion of Jackson in his early teens, says nothing inappropriate happened with him. 

<em>Fans are slamming the docu-film Leaving Neverland</em>
Fans are slamming the docu-film Leaving Neverland

A prominent film reviewer in India says, "My more immediate response was, why now? Why are these men, obviously feeling some kind of cathartic pain as they relive (and relieve) their childhood trauma, sitting and telling us how Jackson abused his hospitality. And this happened when Wade Robson and James Safechuck were very young children, so young that they should've never been allowed out of their mother's sight."

"Out of the womb and into Jackson's room, this is the journey that Robson and Safechuck describe, the latter decidedly more traumatised in appearance than the former. The two men sit for close to four hours describing how they idolised Jackson and accepted his sexual abuse because - well you don't say no to God," says the reviewer.

"Or do you?" he adds. "This documented smearing campaign left me unconvinced. Both these men have earlier testified under oath that Jackson, "never, repeat, never" touched them physically or violated them. What could have prompted them to do this volte face now? The explanation they give on camera is unconvincing," says the noted reviewer.

"You decide one day that you need to get it all out because you have children of your own? You do know that Jackson is no longer alive and that his estate is worth billions? I am not insinuating anything. You are," he notes.

<em>Fans are rooting to preserve the legacy of the late Michael Jackson</em>
Fans are rooting to preserve the legacy of the late Michael Jackson

The reviewer says, in a scathing piece, "Leaving Neverland is the worst kind of character assassination. There is no voice from the other side. No one to defend the legend from these obscene charges. Did the director think Jackson to be indefensible? He derives almost a sadistic pleasure in demolishing the icon's image from childlike entertainer to a child molestor."

The documentary tries to wrench Jackson's mythical reputation out of its musical context and imputes a monstrous secret life to his persona wherein he lured little boys into his luscious lair and made them do unmentionable things, notes the reviewer. "It's an incongruous image and one that challenges our very notion of defying showbiz figures," he says.

"Why must societies forever in search of caped crusader, look at musicians and actors as heroes? And when they are proven to have feet of clay, we want to punish them for being all too human," adds the reviewer.

He notes, "What I saw on Robeson and Safechuck's faces as they spoke into the camera about the dirty doings of their deity was more anxiety than true self realisation. Anxiety for them to take their relived pain seriously. They know they don't sound very convincing. I also saw greed or maybe I just imagined it. But when I heard the mothers of the two alleged victims speak about how they turned a blind eye to their benefactor's suspicious doings, I saw what the lure of fame and money can do to ordinary working-class folks."

The reviewer signs off with this thought, "Here were these two bright little boys, filled with dreams of becoming stars, patronised and mentored by the biggest pop-star ever. It's obvious to all how much such star-power can corrupt and compromise those who come into range of activity. Wonder how the two boys' parents didn't see what was coming."

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