Diving into neverland
Photo By: TenPlay
Alexander Jones, Contributing Writer
The recent HBO documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” drags out the almost thirty-year-old accusations of child molestation against the pop superstar, Michael Jackson. The Dan Reed directed film tackles the graphic and disturbing claims made against the pop star.
This two part series gives the personal tales of two different men now in their 30’s, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and how both lives intertwined with Jackson’s, and the vividly disturbing stories of how he brought these two boys in so close, and slowly took sexual advantage of Robson and Safechuck.
Wade Robson was an Australian native who showed dance talent by perfectly recreating Michael Jackson’s dance moves at the age of 5. He caught Jackson’s attention by winning first place in a local competition, despite not being old enough to compete. Robson joined Jackson on stage for a concert later that week, and eventually Robson joined Michael’s tours as a featured dancer.
James Safechuck was introduced to Jackson around the age of 10. Safechuck was an actor apart of a Pepsi commercial starring him and Jackson. Jackson had grown attached to Safecheck, and brought the boy and his mother along for more tours in places like Hawaii
“Leaving Neverland” succeeds in presenting the parallel lives of Robson and Safechuck and the toll Jackson’s abuse took on their lives. The film also highlighted the disturbing pattern of how Jackson indoctrinated the two boys, saying that what their relationship was love, and that “God brought us together.” Director Dan Reed respectfully displayed the emotional trauma that not only Robson and Safechuck experienced, but also how the rest of their families suffered with trying to cope with this reality
While confirming the idea that Jackson was a pedophile, it’s not a hateful condemnation of the superstar. Neither Robson or Safechuck hide the emotions that they held for Jackson in the past or currently. They describe their confusion, anger, and fear that they had developed from spending so much time with Jackson. It’s not until the near end, when they sought to resolve their conflict, that they are more negative to Jackson. Only Robson’s brother and grandmother condemn the superstar throughout the documentary. In their eyes, they have the right to do so, as the superstar entering their lives is what tore their family apart.
“Leaving Neverland” also succeeded in reigniting the conversation about child molestation accusations against Jackson. The Jackson Family has denied all of the allegations, and singers like Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder have come to the late pop singer’s defense.
While others such as Oprah Winfrey, who interviewed both Robson and Safechuck after “Leaving Neverland” aired, are standing with the two men.
Singer and actress, Barbara Streisand, provided a mixed response, giving her sympathies to Robson and Safechuck, but saying, “I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him,” and also stating that the molestation wasn’t as bad since they enjoyed being around Jackson as kids.
Nevertheless, despite the controversy and divisive discussions surrounding the film, Leaving Neverland is an excellent execution of documentary filmmaking.