Oprah Winfrey Takes Bold Stance to Support Michael Jackson Accusers in After Neverland Special
Monday night, after HBO finished airing its two-part documentary Leaving Neverland, where Wade Robson and James Safechuck detailed allegations of childhood sexual abuse by Michael Jackson, it continued the conversation with a special presented by Oprah Winfrey.
Where this might seem egotistical coming from any other celebrity, Oprah Winfrey is uniquely qualified for this type of interview because she herself was a victim of child sexual abuse, having been molested by relatives and raped by her uncle. She told THR, “I became pregnant and hid the pregnancy. I’d intended to kill myself actually. I thought there’s no way other than killing myself. I was just planning on how to do it. If I’d had the internet, I might not be alive because now you can just Google how to do it.”
“Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland,” featured the talk show self-made billionaire interviewing the two men and the director of the documentary, Dan Reed. The audience, according to reporting from The Washington Post, was made up of other survivors and their families and supporters. Oprah Winfrey has received a lot of criticism for doing this interview because, for many, the legacy of Michael Jackson is one of a musical and pop culture genius.
He remade the landscape of music in his image, and it’s a legacy that almost every major pop artist since has been chasing. For the African-American and Black communities, Jackson represented the fusion of traditional Black music and mainstream music together, not to mention his sister, Janet Jackson, who I have always felt was equally prolific.
All those things can be true, with these accusations still being credible, because sexual abuse isn’t just about one person. She told the Post,
“I know people all over the world are going to be in an uproar and debating whether or not Michael Jackson did these things and whether these two men are lying or not lying. But for me, this moment transcends Michael Jackson. It is much bigger than any one person. This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption. It’s like a scourge on humanity. . . If it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens, then some good would have come of it.”
I haven’t been able to watch the documentary yet, because the content of it just makes me sick, and I gave a lot of that bandwidth to the R.Kelly documentary and Abducted in Plain Sight, so I need to recharge, but what I will say really astounds me is the cult of celebrity that is convinced that this is being done only to destroy Michael Jackson.
Allegations like these are not new; they have been brought for years throughout the entertainment industry (and everywhere).
The mainstream is just now starting to understand the emotional manipulation and toxic behavior that exists around child grooming to the point where even these men have said, in soundbites I’ve heard, that they mourned Jackson after he died—that they lied initially, saying nothing happened, because they wanted to protect him. These allegations are here to remind us to listen to children when they are uncomfortable, to not force them onto people’s laps, or to kiss and hug people when they don’t want to—to allow kids to believe that they have a right to their own comfort.
“The story is bigger than, as I said in the beginning, it’s bigger than any one person. And don’t let any person in your world make it just about what Michael Jackson did or did not do,” Winfrey said told the Post. “It’s about this thing, this insidious pattern that’s happening in our culture that we refuse to look at.”
Michael Jackson is dead. There is little that can be done to him at this point, but his alleged victims are here, and we should listen to what they have to say. We also need to stop putting people on pedestals, because no human is above anything.
(via The Washington Post, image: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
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