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‘Leaving Neverland’ Director Criticises Michael Jackson Biopic, Says it Will “Glorify a Man Who Raped Children”

Content Warning: This article discusses allegations of child sexual abuse.

The director of the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, Dan Reed, has penned an emotional op-ed in The Guardian regarding an upcoming biopic about the singer’s life, saying it will “glorify a man who raped children.”

The new biopic is being produced by Graham King, who was behind Bohemian Rhapsody and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, along with John Branca and John McClain, the co-executors of Jackson’s estate. The film will be directed by Antoine Fuqua – who helmed the Will Smith survival thriller Emancipation – and stars Jackson’s nephew, Jaafar Jackson, in the lead role.

Leaving Neverland Official Trailer

Reed released Leaving Neverland in 2019. The film focused on the stories of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who said they had been abused by Jackson as children. Robson claimed Jackson first assaulted him when he was seven years old; Safechuck claimed the abuse began when he was 10. Reed’s article in The Guardian comes as filming reportedly begins on the new biopic.

“What had motivated me – and Robson and Safechuck even more so – to embark on making Leaving Neverland was not just the opportunity to expose Jackson by having his victims speak on camera for the first time,” Reed wrote. “Here was an opportunity to bring to the widest possible audience an insight into how children fall victim to any sexual abuser, the psychology of the predator and, above all, the grooming process.

“Maybe we could help prevent young children from falling prey to this most scarring, crippling of crimes.”

Reed went on to say that the media’s reaction to the upcoming biopic has amounted to a “deafening silence”, and that “no one is talking about ‘cancelling’ this movie, which will glorify a man who raped children.”

“What the total absence of outrage accompanying the announcement of this movie tells us is that Jackson’s seduction is still a living force, operating from beyond the grave,” he said. “It seems that the press, his fans and the vast older demographic who grew up loving Jackson are willing to set aside his unhealthy relationship with children and just go along with the music.”

Reed concluded by saying that by sanctioning this biopic, the filmmakers are sending a message that “if a paedophile is rich and popular enough, society will forgive him.”

You can read Reed’s full article here.

If you need assistance, 1800 RESPECT – the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service — can be reached on 1800 737 732. For help or information regarding mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Further Reading

Australian Radio Stations Have Pulled Michael Jackson’s Music From Air

Three Michael Jackson Fan Groups Are Suing ‘Leaving Neverland’ Accusers For Defamation

Elton John On Michael Jackson: “A Disturbing Person To Be Around”

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