A forthcoming Michael Jackson biopic will “glorify a man who raped children,” writes Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed in an op-ed published today in The Guardian’s Sunday edition, The Observer. Though details on the film are thin, Reed condemned Lionsgate’s decision to make the Antoine Fuqua–directed biopic, which is backed by Jackson’s estate and is set to star Jackson’s nephew Jaafar Jackson. Reed also criticized the “gentle raising of eyebrows” from press outlets that reported the biopic. “The total absence of outrage accompanying the announcement,” writes Reed, “tells us that Jackson’s seduction is still a living force, operating from beyond the grave.”
Reed notes that, though some still deny the allegations against Jackson, it is “completely uncontested” that “Jackson spent innumerable nights alone in bed with young boys.” He asks the filmmakers, “How will you represent the moment when Jackson, a grown man in his 30s, takes a child by the hand and leads him into that bedroom? How will you depict what happens next? By sidestepping the question of Jackson’s predilection for sleeping with young boys, you are broadcasting a message to millions of survivors of child sexual abuse. That message is: if a pedophile is rich and popular enough, society will forgive him.”
Reed’s Leaving Neverland aired on HBO in two parts in 2019, and won a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special later that year. The documentary features extensive interviews with James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who say Jackson repeatedly sexually abused them in the 1990s. Robson had been key to Jackson’s acquittal in a 2005 child molestation trial, where he told a jury that Jackson was innocent. Robson “now admits that he lied in court to protect his mentor and abuser,” Reed notes in the op-ed.
Pitchfork has reached out to representatives for Lionsgate for comment and response to Dan Reed’s article.
If you or someone you know has been affected by childhood sexual abuse, we encourage you to reach out for support:
RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline
1 800 656 HOPE (4673)
The National Child Abuse Hotline
1 800 4 A CHILD (422-4453)
Lean on Me: A Caregiver’s Guide to Safeguarding Children and Supporting Healing From Sexual Abuse
Source : Pitchfork