A total freakout is happening over the unsubstantiated Michael Jackson sex-abuse doc “Leaving Neverland,” including radio stations banning Jackson’s songs, The Simpsons axing their MJ episode, and his statue being taken down at the British Museum.
Personally, I find it easy to separate the man from his music. How can you resist the Motown-era Jackson Five versions of “I Want You Back” and “ABC” or is fantastic, groundbreaking albums “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.”
Listen, there have been countless racists and anti-Semites over the year in the arts; Virginia Woolf, Patricia Highsmith, T.S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, H.P. Lovecraft, Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney (!!!) There have also been misogynists and alleged wife-murderers: William S. Burroughs, Norman Mailer etc. Let us not forget that Phil Spector killed his wife and, yet, his immaculate wall-of-sound productions are still blasting, justifiably so, on the radio on hot summer days (is there a better sensory audio feeling than that?. Oh, let us not forget wife-beaters Charles Dickens, Pablo Picasso,Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and so on.
I’m still not saying that the accusers in the Jackson documentary, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, are not telling the truth when they allege that Jackson groomed and sexually abused them as children, but this is still a case up for debate, even with outrage culture pouncing on Jackson, even though he can’t defend himself since he’s been dead for more than a decade now; but there have been brilliant artists in past centuries whose art is still being celebrated.
However, there are defenders of the late artist; a GoFundMe page was set up to finance billboards on buses campaigning for MJ’s innocence. The adverts had raised more than £14,000.