I have yet to see the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland that tells the stories of two of Michael Jackson’s victims. I fully intend on seeing it, my husband and I want to find a time we can watch it together. Following the conclusion of the two-part film Monday night, Oprah Winfrey aired her interview with the two subjects of the film, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and Neverland’s director, Dan Reed. Oprah is, of course, a sexual abuse survivor and the audience was populated with several survivors as well. As she states at the start, she taped 217 episodes on sexual abuse during her talk show days. What she intended to do with this interview, as she always hopes to do, is expand the conversation about what sexual abuse encompasses, specifically seduction and entrapment. The Washington Post has a good article about Oprah’s interview,:
Winfrey started by discussing how the word “abuse” lacks accuracy, and children often can’t articulate abuse to their parents because they literally don’t have the language to explain what happened, as they have been “seduced and entrapped.”
Robson responded that both times he testified (he made the same claims in Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial), he had “no understanding that what Michael did to me sexually was abuse. I had no concept of it being that.”
“From night one of the abuse, of the sexual stuff that Michael did to me, he told me it was love,” Robson said. “He told me that he loved me and God brought us together. … Anything Michael would say to me was gospel.”
Safechuck echoed a similar experience and said there was “a lot of panic” in talking about Jackson: “Michael drilled in you, ‘If you’re caught, we’re caught, your life is over, my life is over.’ It’s repeated over and over again, it’s drilled into your nervous system,” he said. “It takes a lot of work to sort through that.”
“You know the Jackson family disagrees with everything that is being said here today,” Winfrey said, and asked Reed about a criticism from the estate: Why didn’t he interview anyone in the Jackson family?
“This is a film that’s not about Jackson. It’s about what happened to Wade and James,” Reed said, adding that no one in the Jackson family “disputes” that Jackson spent many nights with young boys.
To answer the question, Oprah’s interview is controversial to Michael Jackson fans/family who refuse to acknowledge his behavior. As she said, “this moment transcends Michael Jackson. It is much bigger than any one person,” and she’s right. This sheds light on how children are, sadly, held accountable for their abuse. But, as we’ve heard so far, Jackson’s fans only see this as a Michael Jackson moment. Not only have they been threatening Safechuck and Robson but now they’re coming for Oprah with death threats and vile comments. I don’t think Oprah is too worried, and not just because she can afford the best security money can buy. She has been committed to educating society sexual abuse and exposing predators.
I really appreciate Reed’s answer that he didn’t interview the Jackson family because this film was about Safechuck and Robson. After all the years that Jackson controlled the narrative, including coaching them on what to say, it’s time to let them take it back.
— HBO Documentaries (@HBODocs) March 4, 2019
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