Dan Reed, the director of Leaving Neverland, has criticized Lionsgate’s upcoming Michael Jackson biopic, describing it as a “man who abused children” romanticization.
In a recent comment for The Observer, Reed covered a 2019 documentary about the late singer and spoke about the silence surrounding the new film.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accused Jackson of sexually abusing them as children, were the subjects of Reed’s documentary Leaving Neverland.
The film received widespread attention and sparked controversy, with some fans defending Jackson’s innocence and others calling for his legacy to be reconsidered.
In the commentary, Reid claims the upcoming biopic will ignore allegations of abuse and send a dangerous message by portraying Jackson as a hero.
“If a pedophile is rich and popular enough, society will forgive him,” Reed writes. “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.”
The “deafening silence” of the media in response to the movie, which, according to Reed, is being criticized, is another point of contention. This silence, in his opinion, demonstrates that Jackson’s influence hasn’t faded despite his passing.
“No one is talking about ‘cancelling’ this movie, which will glorify a man who raped children,” he said.
While the upcoming biopic hasn’t been widely discussed in the press, Reed’s comments highlight the ongoing debate over Jackson’s legacy and the impact of allegations of abuse on the individual’s reputation.
Op-Ed by Reed
The film industry has a responsibility to carefully consider the messages it sends, and Reed’s comments serve as a reminder of the importance of taking allegations of abuse seriously.
“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 added.
“To them I say this: even if you do not believe a word of what his many accusers have said; even if you are not concerned by the police investigations and the massive payouts to halt legal proceedings, how do you explain the completely uncontested fact that for years Jackson spent innumerable nights alone in bed with young boys?”
He continued, “To the filmmakers, I say: How will you represent the moment when Jackson, a grown man in his 30s, takes a child by the hand and leads him into that bedroom? How will you depict what happens next?
“By sidestepping the question of Jackson’s predilection for sleeping with young boys, you are broadcasting a message to millions of survivors of child sexual abuse. That message is: If a pedophile is rich and popular enough, society will forgive him.”
Ultimately, Reed’s op-ed is a powerful call to action, urging the public to question the glorification of a person accused of abuse and to hold those responsible accountable for the messages they send.
It’s a reminder that the conversation surrounding Jackson’s legacy is far from over, and that the impact of abuse allegations should not be ignored or dismissed.
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Antoine Fuqua, director of “Emancipation” and “Training Day,” has been selected by Lionsgate to direct the Michael Jackson biopic, “Michael.”
The film will focus on the life and music of the King of Pop, who rose to fame as a young child with the musical group Jackson 5 and later became a celebrated solo artist.
However, Jackson was also a controversial figure, with allegations of child sex abuse being made against him. In 2005, he was acquitted of charges related to the abuse allegations. The recent documentary “Finding Neverland” has brought the allegations back into the spotlight, with the Jackson estate denying the allegations and calling them “absolutely false.”
Lionsgate has stated that the film, made in partnership with John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of Jackson’s estate, will “explore all aspects of Michael’s life.” It remains to be seen how the film will address the allegations. Michael Jackson passed away in 2009 at the age of 50.
Lionsgate has not yet responded to a request for comment on the op-ed.
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Victory in Appeal
Previously, the Michael Jackson estate has won an appeal in a lawsuit against HBO over its documentary “Leaving Neverland.” The film, which aired in 2019, contained allegations of child sexual abuse against Jackson.
The estate sued HBO for violating a non-disparagement clause in a 1992 contract between the network and Jackson, which the estate claimed the documentary violated.
In a unanimous decision, the appeals court ruled that the non-disparagement clause did not apply to the documentary because it was a matter of public concern. The court also noted that HBO had a First Amendment right to air the documentary.
The documentary, directed by Dan Reed, centered on two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claimed they were sexually abused by Jackson as children. The film received widespread attention and sparked controversy, with Jackson’s estate and supporters vehemently denying the allegations.
This ruling is a setback for the Jackson estate, which has been seeking to protect the late singer’s legacy and reputation. The estate has also filed a separate lawsuit against Robson and Safechuck for making false claims against Jackson.
The ruling in the HBO lawsuit reinforces the importance of freedom of speech and the media’s right to report on matters of public concern, even if the content is controversial.
The Jackson estate is expected to continue to fight to protect the late singer’s legacy, while the documentary remains a highly debated topic among fans and the general public.