We Asked Fans — And An Expert — About the Effects of the Unsettling Michael Jackson Doc

Even after decades of sexual misconduct allegations, for many of Michael Jackson‘s most devoted fans, the release of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland provoked an unprecedented emotional reaction to the pop icon’s alleged abuse. We are taking an inside look at the divisive film, bringing you commentary from fans of the iconic singer and from therapist and relationship expert Dr. Jane Greer.

The Accusers

Leaving Neverland

The documentary, directed and produced by the British filmmaker Dan Reed, details explicit claims by dancer and choreographer Wade Robson and former child actor Jimmy Safechuck, both of whom allege they were sexually abused as children by Michael Jackson.

After allegations against Jackson were dismissed in the 90s and early 2000s, the documentary gives a voice to Jackson’s alleged accusers, who share disturbing stories of their childhood relationships with the King of Pop.

Michael Jackson and Jimmy Safechuck

Michael Jackson and Jimmy Safechuck

Response from Jackson Estate

After the documentary was released in two parts earlier this month, a sea of backlash swept the nation. There were those who rallied with the filmmakers and pushed for a reassessment of Jackson’s legacy, as well as those who fired back at the documentary makers for giving a platform to accusers with cases that are technically unconfirmed. The Jackson Estate released a statement after the film’s release, saying, “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.”

Leaving Neverland

Fan Reactions

It turns out that critics are not alone in their conflicting points of view. When Celebrity Page hit the streets to hear fans’ candid thoughts on the documentary and its disturbing allegations, the responses hinged on the idea of a link (or lack thereof) between Jackson’s actions and his music.

“He’s such a well-known artist, and so famous, [that] you can’t really discredit his music,” said one female  fan. On the other hand, another man commented that he “feels a sense of guilt listening to [Jackson’s music], just because of everything that’s been going on.”

In response to the question of separating the artist from their work, psychotherapist and author of What About Me? Dr. Jane Greer emphasized that “when we look at the artist, and [their behaviors] are sometimes so reprehensible, and so objectionable, it’s difficult to appreciate or even be open and receptive to their art.”

Michael Jackson and Wade Robson

But in the end, whether or not it’s possible to judge the artist—and not the art—is a personal decision.

“This doesn’t change my view on his music, but more his person, ” concluded one fan. “But I think his music and his person should be two separate things.”

Leaving Neverland

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