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Leaving Neverland

Jeremy Blackman · 20 · 985

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Jeremy Blackman

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on: March 11, 2019, 11:48:43 AM


Leaving Neverland is a two-part documentary exploring the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson. Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck, now 40, and Robson, now 36, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, the film crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, exploring the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after both had a young son of his own.

Directed by Dan Reed.



This is one of the most extraordinary things I've ever seen. Going to say right now it's one of the best films of 2019.

I am a thousand percent convinced by these men's stories. Rarely have I been so thoroughly convinced of something to my core. Even setting aside the heaps of corroborating evidence, you know this kind of truth when you see it. Convincing yourself otherwise while watching this doc would take a lot of work.

Every skeptical take (and there actually aren't many) seems borne of profound ignorance. Once you know how "grooming" works, the pieces fall neatly into place. And oh boy was Michael Jackson good at grooming. His alien nature, rather than being off-putting, was actually central to his ability to groom ó especially when it came to seducing the parents.

This doc, against all odds, actually sort of helps you understand how the parents did what they did. Letting your kid stay with a normal man would definitely be inappropriate, but, you know, Michael Jackson is not a normal human. He's a boy in an adult body who probably doesn't even have a sexuality! He never had a childhood, so he's living it out now, and can't we let him have that? He just wants friends to play with! Funny how many bought into that narrative, when it was conceived and repeated endlessly by Jackson himself.

Some light spoilers here... but yeah, Michael Jackson was definitely a straight-up hardcore pedophile. It wasn't just touching here and there. It was sex. It was as much sex as he could do with a 7-year old's body. It wasn't just sexual, eitheróhe combined sex with romance to make the seduction complete. MJ's pedophilia was so extensive that I wonder how much of the "childlike" stuff was just a lure. The construction of Neverland came at an interesting timeóit's like once he learned he could be successful seducing boys, he decided to go all-out.

I guess I expected some level of perversion, but it's actually difficult to come to terms with just how deeply evil this stuff was, and how much effort and passion Michael Jackson put into this project of building a harem of young boys. It's like it was his other life's work.

If MJ fans want to convince the public that he's innocent, they're going to have to convince us that 7-year-old boys can consent to sex. Good luck.
"Hunger is the purest sin"


wilberfan

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Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 03:56:57 PM
I agree it was a very compelling film.  I would also encourage everyone to watch the Oprah follow-up interview with the two victims.  (There's another film called "Abducted in Plain Sight" (a Netflix release) that reinforces the methodology of child sexual abuse.  Also a very compelling film.)


Perhaps I'm a little soft in the heart (or head)--and this probably isn't the forum to discuss Michael in detail--but I ultimately see everyone as a victim in this story.  Without excusing or apologizing for the behavior for a second, I don't think anyone picks up a sexuality catalog and runs their finger down the page and picks "Pedophile".  Michael had a full-spectrum of things wrong with him, and this was one (very serious) manifestation.  (A therapist friend of mine points out that many sexual abusers suffered the same (or similar) abuse themselves as children.)


One of the things this doc does so well--and which I think makes it culturally incredibly important--is to show how complex these scenarios are and to shed light on all of the dynamics employed to begin/maintain the abusive behavior.  It's very easy (without having seen the film) to dismiss one or all of the adults as idiots or worse.  But it's not that black and white.   
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Drenk

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Reply #2 on: March 11, 2019, 04:47:54 PM
After Neverland




And if you want to watch the director being calm against someone trying to say that we can't know but really saying that he knows that it's not true, watch this...People buying the "they're suing for the money"...as if there never was money when you won, anyway, is...? Who cares if they get millions if we get some evidence by justice? All these people who worked for Jackson could testify...

(But that's a different story. The movie is way more important than this question, I think.)

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Drenk

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Reply #3 on: March 12, 2019, 10:47:51 AM
Here is some comic relief.

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eward

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Reply #4 on: March 12, 2019, 11:11:37 AM
Kyle Dunnigan is a fucking comic genius. His insta videos have claimed many sweet hours of my life, and I regret not a second of it.
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

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Drenk

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Reply #5 on: March 12, 2019, 01:58:35 PM
About Wade's mother from a book published in 1997:


Joy turned out to be something of an opportunist. She tried to use my interview as a means of making good Jackson's promise of the "good life."

The next day, Joy called the manager at Neverland Ranch. Norma Staikos, who was. according to police, the person that "provided" the boss . Joy told Norma that a journalist had an abundance of information and was asking questions about the relationship between Jackson, her son and other boys. She explained that the journalist was writing a book about Jackson on the subject of his being a pedophile. Joy told her that the journalist knew where Wade was and he would return to continue with the conversation.

Staikos became alarmed. She believed Joy's manipulative story, and understood what Joy wanted. She told Joy that the first thing they were going to do was pick her up at the apartment and take her to the ranch. Joy was happy. She thought her economic problems were going to be over soon, and that she had Jackson in the palm of her hand.


Also, this page about James's father, the only member of the family we almost never hear about in Leaving Neverland:

When I called Jimmy's father, Wayne Safechuck, and told him this story, he did not deny any part of the description of the relationship between his son and the singer. When asked whether his son had been sexually abused by Jackson, and about the presents he had received, and if he would cooperate with the police, Wayne Safcchuck simply said:

"All I can say is ... no comment. I can't say anything. I have not been involved in anything." "Is it because you received money and cars as long as you promised Jackson that you will never reveal details about their relationship? All this after you were such good friends? Why don't you tell me the truth?" I insisted

I cannot make any comment..." replied the father.

"It's because you signed a contract to keep silent, isn't it?"

"I can't comment ... you understand me?" the father said with finality, making the message very clear.
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Jeremy Blackman

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Reply #6 on: March 12, 2019, 06:16:22 PM
Drenk, I hate you for making me watch Piers Morgan. I could only make it halfway through. No surprise he proves himself yet again to be a slimy ball of cancerous waste. I doubt he watched the doc, because of course all his "questions" are answered there.

The other anchor, too, asks why the victims supported MJ years afterwards. Even Oprah asked that question (rhetorically, I assume). It's making me crazy. How can anyone watch this documentary and still have that question? It's answered so clearly and thoroughly. All they can do in interviews is literally repeat what's already in the doc. I feel like I'm either being gaslighted, or I'm watching people who are experiencing extensive memory loss.
"Hunger is the purest sin"


Alexandro

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Reply #7 on: March 12, 2019, 11:59:24 PM
I went for this for the shock value and I guess a morbid interest in just how low the whole sexual abuse would get, and got a whole different experience, particularly with Part 2. I don't know if there is any other film that manages to give such a complete portrait of abused victims' psychology and behavioural complexities. It really makes you look at it from a completely empathic perspective, and puts the true extend of what the abuse means in display.

I'm sure this isn't the end for this case in terms of being explored by cinema, it might end up being a milestone in how we understand abuse in the long run. Totally recommended.


eward

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Reply #8 on: March 13, 2019, 05:56:14 AM
Got through about an hour before calling it a night. Will pick up later, if I can stomach it. Seriously rough going; I spent much of the viewing groaning and cursing with - during the worst bits - my hands cupped over my eyes and/or ears. It made me recoil in a very primal way. Just in the opening minutes alone, knowing all that we do, seeing footage of those men as youngsters, completely innocent and vulnerable, was almost enough to do me in. Heartbreaking.
"Do you laugh at jealousy?"

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Drenk

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Reply #9 on: March 13, 2019, 06:01:27 AM
I'm still trying to figure out everything that's packed in it, but the moment that "changed" something in me was when we saw Michael Jackson on tour with James, I think, leaving hotels with him as if he were his date, and then similar footage of him with different kinds. I became shocked at the fact that he managed to do that in plain sight. I had seen footage of Neverland and heard that he slept with boys, refusing to believe. It's not that I didn't want to believe or it's not only that: I mostly didn't really want to hear anything, deciding to stay blind without really thinking about it and although I had already seen a lot. That man really did groom the world...

That second of "oh my god..." is powerful.
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Drenk

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Reply #10 on: March 13, 2019, 05:18:23 PM
Drenk, I hate you for making me watch Piers Morgan. I could only make it halfway through. No surprise he proves himself yet again to be a slimy ball of cancerous waste. I doubt he watched the doc, because of course all his "questions" are answered there.

The other anchor, too, asks why the victims supported MJ years afterwards. Even Oprah asked that question (rhetorically, I assume). It's making me crazy. How can anyone watch this documentary and still have that question? It's answered so clearly and thoroughly. All they can do in interviews is literally repeat what's already in the doc. I feel like I'm either being gaslighted, or I'm watching people who are experiencing extensive memory loss.

I guess that even if they've watched it they need to ask the question because people are really angry and confused at the fact that Wade testified for Jackson in 2005. And they're really buying the "well, therefore they only want money". Giving the answer in the question in any form makes you "complicit" to this "one sided" documentary.

I'm listening to the confused, angry, relatively sane people talking about it; they seem to want to stay willingly in the dark or getting half facts. It's very frustrating...

Middle aged men saying they only wanted info on Jackson and got bored when it focused on the men and their families...
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Drenk

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Reply #11 on: March 14, 2019, 05:20:28 PM
Quote
One has to wonder, if Robson and Safechuck had been given the opportunity to testify back in 2013, how differently things might have played out. Their testimony in Leaving Neverland is riveting, but it isnít being heard in a court of law, where its veracity could have been determined in a more consequential way, and where the Jackson estate would have also been given ample opportunity to rebut their claims. That the two men are telling their stories now, without the possibility of justice or retribution (if their claims were believed to be true in court), feels like a failure on the part of our legal system.

In the context of the #MeToo movement and the push to give victims of sexual abuse a voice, it feels only appropriate that one of the ways that we challenge our longstanding narratives is by reconsidering the systems that hold them in place. If we donít question why they exist and how they might stifle the very progress weíre collectively working toward, then arenít we setting ourselves up for a delusional Neverland from which we can never leave?

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2019/03/what-leaving-neverland-reminds-us-about-the-statut.html
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Drenk

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Reply #12 on: March 17, 2019, 07:30:42 AM
It might be off-topic, but an Alice Munro short story that I re-read recently made me think of Leaving Neverland. It's also a great short story since Munro is one of our best writers. (I'm talking about humanity's writers.) I'll quote one line then I'll let you read it—or not.

Quote
I would always be reminded of what I had agreed to do. Not been forced, not ordered, not even persuaded. Agreed to do.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2005/12/05/wenlock-edge

I must say that I feel personally hurt by people discrediting Robson and Safechuck because they sued the estate. People want "justice", but don't want a trial because it's "just for money". The documentary is made in order to "lynch" Michael Jackson but the people who are "lynching" are his fans. That's the kind of reasoning that makes me want to cry.

In a way, Jackson is as important to some of these fans as Jackson was to Wade—well, almost, since they didn't influence their lives that much...—so I get why, no matter what is known, they'd deny it. But if Robson was able to do the work, why can't they? These fans didn't live through any trauma. It's less hard to question your relationship with a superstar than being abused sexually for years, no?

And nobody deserves to be worshipped like Michael Jackson was. Nobody.
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eward

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Reply #13 on: March 17, 2019, 07:17:57 PM
Finally finished Part 2. Extraordinary doesn't begin to describe this. I'm too emotionally drained to really offer anything of coherent substance, but would just like to say that this film does an excellent job of making clear the endless nooks and crannies of psychological/emotional complexity inherent in a case such as this, exploded into a billion pieces by the mere fact of Michael Jackson's fame.

Spoiler: ShowHide
When Wade's mother describes Wade at Michael's funeral sobbing like he had never sobbed before...the whole thing sunk to a new tragic low, so poignantly, so humanly.
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Drenk

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Reply #14 on: March 19, 2019, 07:42:58 PM



Latoya had a reverse journey. She's now saying that she was lying about her brother molesting kids.
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