Fresh out of production, Leaving Neverland is a 2019 documentary which focuses on the alleged sexual abuse of Michael Jackson against two individuals, James Safechuck and Wade Robson. According to the alleged victims, who were young children at the time, the abuse took place primarily at the Neverland Ranch.
Many critics, including members of the Jackson Family, have attacked the production of the documentary, claiming the entire act is a scheme to gain money and attention. After all, both Safechuck and Robson denied the Jackson ever molested or abused them during a 2005 trial involving similar accusations against the late famous pop star.
As a result, fans of Jackson have come to his defense, claiming the accusations must not be true if the victims denied ever being abused.
HERE'S THE UNDERLYING ISSUE: If the abuse did, in fact, take place, it was a long time ago. In no way does that mean the accusations are any less serious. However, with the alleged perpetrator deceased, prior statements claiming he was innocent, a lack of evidence, and the time jump between the abuse and now, the case become a tale of HE SAID, SHE SAID, or in this case, HE SAID, HE SAID...THE WHOLE WORLD REACTS.
And that's more or less what happened. Two people in the public eye, in particular, Oprah Winfrey and Wendy Williams, have stepped in to give their thoughts on the matter. Well, sort of.
Oprah stood on the side of the accusers, allowing both Robson and Safechuck to share their stories in an in-depth interview following an audience-viewing of the documentary. Everyone in the audience represented survival, owing to the fact that each individual watching the documentary in the audience was a victim of sexual abuse themselves. Before taking questions and opening it up to the crowd, Oprah ensured everyone was being given all possible information about the scenario.
On the other hand, Wendy Williams recently disclosed on her own talk show her disbelief in Robson and Safechuck, claiming the entire documentary is an attempt to earn money and defame the pop icon. Unlike Oprah however, Williams appeared to have little knowledge or understanding of the documentary, having to ask her co-host for the segment details and clarification about the film.
The differences between the responses of Oprah and Wendy Williams do not stop at the viewing of the documentary. Prior to the scandal, both women had previously met Jackson. The difference, however, was the extent to their relationship.
After a 1993 interview between Jackson and Oprah, Oprah admitted her fondness of the star, sympathizing with him when he disclosed he never experienced a true childhood and was often beat by his father, Joe Jackson. When Oprah decided to take on an interview with Robson and Safechuck, she knew the trouble she was getting herself into given her previous positive relationship with the Jackson Family. Following the interview, the entire Jackson Family revealed how betrayed they felt by Oprah, someone they previously considered more or less a friend.
Williams, however, was quick in her effort to debunk the documentary, despite meeting Jackson only once! In an after-show segment on her show, Williams recounts the one time she met Jackson when he invited her to dinner at the Neverland Ranch. Claiming she was one of the first people to leave the dinner, she spent maybe a few hours with the pop star, unlike Robson and Safechuck who were heavily familiar with the icon.
According to Williams, Michael is not innocent but she revealed the following thoughts: "I do believe a shower in the nude. I don't believe there was any sexual touching, I do believe sleepovers in the same bed. I do believe that if mother nature takes its course you get a hard penis. I don't believe touching and I don't believe sex."
THIS TRIGGERED ME.
By revealing her strong opinion on air, she influenced her audience to believe her, rather than potential victims of sexual abuse.
She possibly took away opportunities from other potential victims to come forward, because now they may be more hesitant to share their stories in fear their perpetrator will be defended simply because of their status.
Safechuck and Robson met Jackson when they were young, and they each built an emotional relationship with him over an extended period of time. THIS IS KEY. While Williams claims she thinks she knows what happened, Safechuck and Robson lived out the true experiences for years, whatever that may be. No one except them, truly knows what occurred behind closed doors. Even the alleged victims' parents, although they were too groomed into believing the best in Jackson, were unaware of what actually went down.
The question is, WHAT NOW? Both sides have shared their stories and their opinions. The public has responded with their understanding of the situation. The world is confused about how to move forward: can Michael Jackson's music be separated from Michael Jackson, and what he possibly did?
The answers are unclear, but before deciding anything for yourself, educating oneself on the details of the case is crucial. How would one make an informed decision otherwise? Apparently, none of Michael Jackson's brothers have watched the documentary, despite claiming the accusations are false. Something worth mentioning is many people were doubtful before watching the film, but afterward, many viewers said it was impossible not to believe Robson and Safechuck.
No one ever wants to believe that someone they love could be capable of committing such horrific acts. Nevertheless, refusing to consider any other argument displays not only ignorance but also a lack of sympathy for potential victims.
The main takeaway is that you never know what people are capable of. You may want to believe the best in them, but refusing to accept other possibilities is harmful, nonprogressive, and biased.
I do not know exactly what Michael Jackson did and what he was capable of, but any potential victim of sexual abuse deserves to be heard and respected!