“Leaving Neverland” on HBO: Two Believable Victims

Leaving Neverland meticulously explores the trauma that the men say kept them from acknowledging, even to themselves, the effects that Jackson’s alleged behavior had on their lives. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic

Airing in two parts on HBO next week—March 3rd and 4th—director Dan Reed‘s Leaving Neverland documents the experiences of two different men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that as boys they were sexually abused by superstar Michael Jackson (1958-2009). “Their accounts of sexual abuse are among the most specific and heartbreaking to emerge in the Me Too era” (Matthew Jacobs, HuffPost).

The documentary’s content has been rejected, of course, by many of Jackson’s fans as well as his estate, but as Reed told Jacobs, “We spent months looking at the old documents, everything that was published, conversations with investigators. I never found a single investigator who didn’t think Michael was guilty, and I never came across anything at all that led me to doubt either Wade or James.”

From The Atlantic, a general intro to this film:

Though Jackson’s alleged abuses have been reported since 1993, when he was first accused of child molestation, Leaving Neverland offers a striking new lens through which to see the late singer’s legacy: the effect it continues to have on those he allegedly groomed. The documentary is a thorough, brutal accounting of Robson’s and Safechuck’s psychological states both as children and as adults, attempting to name what they say happened to them.

Steve Pond, The Wrap, breaks down the two-parter:

The first two hours lay out their accounts of the meeting, grooming and sexual relationships up to the time when the two boys say they were no longer Jackson’s favorites; the second half covers the aftermath, when both Robson and Safechuck testified on Jackson’s behalf and denied any sexual contact. Both say they were so enamored of Jackson that they remained determined to keep their stories a secret.

More info from David Ehrlich, IndieWire:

…(T)he first part of Reed’s film grows so hard to stomach that it’s hard to imagine what the second might have in store. Mercifully, the latter part of ‘Leaving Neverland’ is more concerned with the two trials that put Jackson’s behavior in the public sphere, and the psychic fallout that the Robson and Safechuck families are still fighting to survive…The last 30 minutes are the most harrowing of all, as they focus on how Wade and Jimmy revealed the truth to their families — to their parents, siblings, and wives — and the effect that had on everyone in their lives.

The brief trailer for Leaving Neverland addresses how both the persona and playground of Jackson lured his victims, including their moms:

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, regarding the documentary’s viewing at the Sundance Film Festival:

During the post-screening, Robson, on stage with Safechuck, expressed that he understood why fans were unwilling to believe the worst about their idol, acknowledging that he was once a fan himself and well-acquainted with the power of denial.
‘I was like them,’ he said. ‘Even though it happened to me, I couldn’t believe it.’

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