COMMENTARY: ‘Leaving Neverland’ is Michael Jackson’s Pandora’s Box
Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent | 3/5/2019, 8:51 p.m.
Those are just three of what’s become a cavalcade of headlines about the gut-wrenching and disturbing documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” that finally aired on HBO Sunday night with part two and a post-film interview by Oprah Winfrey on Monday night.
It’s the story of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who describe in the most heart-breaking and wrenching ways the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of the late Michael Jackson when they were little boys.
While Michael’s family, fans and the executors of his multi-billion dollar estate, have blasted everyone involved in the film, this fact remains indisputable:
Only the young men know what really happened between the sheets at Neverland, the King of Pop’s sprawling 2,700-acre estate in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.
And, while it’s noble that Tito, Jackie, Marlon, Jermaine and the lawyers who represent Michael’s estate have pushed back against the film, one thing director Dan Reed’s documentary does make clear:
Michael and his family really were strangers over the last 25 years of his life.
They didn’t know him and he really didn’t care to know them.
His interactions with his brothers, whom he once led as the Jackson 5 and later as The Jacksons, were mere token visits on “Family Day” once a year.
During the 1993 investigation into Michael’s alleged pedophilia, his sister Latoya created a firestorm by saying that she “would not be a silent collaborator in my brother’s crimes against little children.”
Latoya claimed that she and her mother had seen checks written out for “lots of money” to the families of her brother’s alleged child victims.Her mother, Katherine, “was so disgusted that she wrote a letter in which she used [a homophobic slur] to describe Michael,” Latoya alleged.
Katherine vehemently denied “every word Latoya had to say.”
She’d been brainwashed, the Jacksons said.
For this reporter and one-time close family friend, their denials were shattered years later when the Jackson family forfeited possession of a storage unit upon being sued in 2002.
That storage unit, Jermaine and Katherine would admit to me, contained “those checks and that letter” Latoya had spoken of.
Several Jacksons, including Jermaine, Rebbie, Katherine and even Joseph often confided in me and much of those discussions have remained confidential despite the sour ending to the friendship.
Jermaine and Rebbie both poured out their souls for book proposals.
Others including Tito, Jackie and Randy also often spoke openly.
“Michael is messed up,” Randy has said.
One family member expressed his fear that “Michael may have touched [his son].”
My response at the time: Ridiculous.
His take: “I hope not,” and “How would you know?”
Like him, I didn’t really know. At the time, I had my doubts.
Michael’s family often fumed about his “Carrying on with little white boys,” though they never said he was molesting his special friends.
One morning in 2003, I received in succession, two phone calls pleading for my intervention. One from a girlfriend of Jermaine’s and the other from one of Michael’s nephews.