CW: Child sexual abuse
A documentary called Leaving Neverland is coming out soon which explores, in apparently horrific detail, how Michael Jackson abused children and speaks with his victims.
I was too young to ever be a Michael Jackson fan - by the time I was aware of him, he was already in his ridiculous Earth Song at the Brits phase and we just made fun of him for how weird he looked. When he had his trial, I remember the jokes about “Jesus Juice” and stuff, but it always seemed like a topic that was comic or just too strange to really be upset by - then he died, while about to do that enormous residency at the O2 - and the conversation seemed to be about his legacy and his musical brilliance, and that still seems to dominate even now.
In the light of #MeToo, figues like Jesse Lacey and Louis CK have become persona non grata, yet it still seems acceptable to credit Jackson for his hits. Do you think this is going to change as more focus goes to his victims? Do you still listen to his music?
isn’t this because he went to court and was found not guilty in 2003?
I think it’s kind of mad to bury works of art even if they were created by awful people. Where do you draw the line on acceptable behaviour? Of course these songs shouldn’t be played in any form that will give the artist money, but it seems strange to me to refuse to listen/read/watch anything that involves that person again.
I still listen to his music, I love it. I still watch Woody Allen films. I still listen to that fuck Morrissey. I read Roald Dahl. For sure there is less enjoyment now we know what scumbags they are, but I still enjoy the work and I don’t personally feel the need to separate them.
Actually, in terms of giving the artists money, even that is a difficult one. John Lennon was a wifebeater, but do you stop buying Beatles albums because of it? Should the rest of lostprophets be punished for what one member of the band did?
Rightly or wrongly, the pervading consensus always seemed to me that while he clearly had inappropriate relationships with young boys, he was not in fact a molester. I’m sure the size of his celebrity and the quality of his music affected how people viewed this.
Like Prof says, he was found not-guilty, but if new facts have come to light this should obviously be reassessed. Is there a detailed breakdown anywhere of what has been said in the documentary?
There are lots of write-ups available now:
I feel like a lot of people will still forgive him because a) he seemed so innocent himself, b) he had huge amounts of talent and c) he had a truly horrific childhood himself.
That’s an interesting discussion in itself. A huge proportion of paedophiles were abused as children and started their life as victims, but the general public would never forgive them like a lot presumably will with Jacko. I find that kind of reasoning fascinating.
Someone who has given you a lot of joy in life, and who you have such positive associations with, is easier to forgive for most people. I’m a bit of a hard-case on this, in that - for example - I haven’t watched a Woody Allen film since I really understood the allegations, haven’t listened to Brand New since the Jesse Lacey thing came out, and now (and I damn myself for this) don’t feel good about listening to Michael Jackson. I’m annoyed with myself that it took this level of disclosure to take me to that because my policy is always to believe the victims.
It’s tough on one level, because frankly a lot of great art and things we all love have been created by men who were definitely sex criminals. David Bowie is another example. I can’t listen to Weezer because I have serious concerns about the lyrical content of some of Rivers’ writing. I’m uncomfortable (to a slightly lesser degree, and only because of how she has handled it) about Ryan Adam’s horrible cliche relationship with Phoebe Bridgers. If you take this view you end up shutting down a lot of avenues for you to enjoy culture. But for me, it paints a really nasty cast on things. I don’t enjoy things that are created by monsters. I think a lot of people are much better at separating the two.
Well aware that the Weezer bit is speculative, I just… I don’t know. I don’t really trust anyone any more.
So glad I’ve always thought his music was shit
A quick online search has revealed a horrific amount of vitriol on twitter and reddit against the filmmaker and the two accusers. They are being accused of character assassination and of wanting to raise their own profiles.
Regardless of whether you believe the content of the documentary, why would you want to bring this level of attention on yourself if not to tell the truth?
Really uncomfortable with the deification of Jackson which doesn’t allow for this to be discussed properly.
This is what allows predators to hide in the glare of fame. Fans don’t want to see their idols tarnished, no matter how horrific they are.
As if this fella was a paedo
That line in Mortal Man off TPAB is still one of the most bewildering and excruciating things I’ve ever heard. Never come across a lyrics that’s so out of keeping with the rest of a classic record and so far below its consistent level of quality and insight.
In terms of the separating art from artist thing, I think it’s always going to vary across individuals - I might continue to enjoy work by person A and not person B, even if they had behaved the same way. Maybe the one I had liked most would be the one I couldn’t watch or read or listen to afterwards, or maybe vice-versa.
I mean, I don’t think there could ever be hard and fast rules on it, it’s entirely subjective and probably linked to a million different things about someone. Obviously actively supporting Jackson or Allen or Polanski against their victims is another issue, but enjoying their work is a completely individual thing, I can’t imagine people are ever really consistent on it.
I know someone that thinks Jimmy Savile was innocent. Her reason is that he’s dead and can’t answer the accusations. She has no answer for the fact that he faced allegations when he was alive but the victims were warned about going ahead with pressing charges.
It’s precisely because he’s so famous that the stories don’t have the effect they should. He’s the number one pop star of all time. He’s too big to fail. Were he less famous he would have been written out of pop history years ago.
It’s worth mentioning that this is going to be aired on Channel 4 and HBO, which I think will allow the documentary to have much more of an impact than if it was primarily distributed via cinema. I think the fact two big name broadcasters have picked up on it gives the documentary some weight and makes it harder to shy away from viewing if you are only curious.
Very much ‘well they would, wouldn’t they?’ but still, some interesting legal stuff;
‘The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.’