Tim Smith-Laing in MIL:
“How do you explain Michael Jackson?” This is just one of the many unanswerable questions posed during the nearly four hours of “Leaving Neverland”. The documentary, directed by Dan Reed, in which two men recount the abuse they say they received at Jackson’s hands when they were children, might not explain the King of Pop, but it does threaten to destroy his reputation for ever. Despite denials from both the singer’s estate and disbelief among his biggest fans, radio stations across the world have already begun pulling his music from their playlists. Even if you have only ever been a casual listener to Jacko’s songs, the film is a must-watch inquiry into the nature of fame, abuse and the lives of victims.
Who are the accusers?
The men at the centre of “Leaving Neverland” are James Safechuck and Wade Robson. Safechuck was 10 when he first met Jackson, after performing in a Pepsi advert that featured the star. Jackson befriended him, and later sent a film crew round to the Safechucks’ house. It was, said Safechuck, “almost like an audition. Jackson became a family friend and soon showered Safechucks with affection. He seemed so lonely and childlike that Safechuck’s mother Stephane “came to feel like he was one of [her] sons”. Safechuck toured as a dancer with Jackson.