Leaving Neverland

Leaving Neverland

Max Boland

On March 3rd, ‘Leaving Neverland’ will appear on HBO. This documentary, originally premiering at Sundance in January, follows the lives and allegations of two young boys who claim to have been molested by Michael Jackson.

Wade Robson, now 36, met Jackson at the age of 5, after winning a dance competition in one of Jackson’s iconic costumes. Now 40, James Safechuck met Jackson at the age of 10 during a Pepsi commercial. Both of these men are featured in the documentary and focus on their emotional aftermath, rather than smearing Jackson’s name. Although very one-sided (not hearing from any members of the Jackson family), the film is said to discuss their intense sexual abuse in a way that takes a lot of courage.

This film somewhat echoes the #MeToo movement, as Robson defended Jackson in court against another boy who was molested. Since Jackson is now deceased, Robson has finally come out with his side of the story–which some see as money-grubbing (I do not). There are certain parts of this story, corroborated by multiple victims, that are extremely difficult to hear, or ignore.

For starters, Jackson had many sleepovers with both men, and installed an intricate alarm system that would alert those in the bedroom when someone was approaching (this was corroborated in the 2005 trial). Next, Jackson expressed that he was in love with the boys and performed “marriage” ceremonies, gifting jewelry in exchange for sexual acts.

Instead of thinking of this documentary as smearing the reputation of someone who cannot defend himself, think of it as a story that needs to be told–with the abuser dead, the abused can share their story without fear.