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Leaving Neverland is a gutwrenching documentary following the stories of two men who were allegedly sexually abused as children by the singer Michael Jackson.
by Dan Reed
Throughout his career, Michael Jackson had a longstanding history of befriending young boys. His behavior was characterized in the media as 'friendly mentorships.' In recent years, many survivors have come out and spoken of the sexual abuse they'd allegedly suffered at Jackson's hands.
James 'Jimmy' Safechuck met Jackson when performing for a Pepsi commercial at the age of 10. Wade Robson met him through a meet-and-greet, the final prize of a dance competition. Jackson quickly became close with both children and their families through consistent visits, phone calls, and trips. In Leaving Neverland, both men reflect on the time they spent with Jackson, noting how they initially perceived their relationship with the superstar as romantic, before fully grasping the seedy manipulation hiding behind his actions.
Through interviews of the survivors and their close ones, the film unpacks their trauma and its long-lasting impact on their psychological development. Safechuck and Robson aim to help all sexual abuse survivors feel validated, heard, and seen. The documentary's reception brings to light the importance of believing survivors, and the backlash they often face when they're brave enough to come forward.
I'm not taking anything away from Michael's talent as a superstar. But as a man... He's hurt people and those people that he's hurt should have a chance to talk about it and they should be allowed to be okay.
- Chantal Robson, mother of Wade Robson
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