Monday, March 11, 2019

Leaving Neverland (and then showering)

Watched the first two hours of LEAVING NEVERLAND and not sure I need to see the concluding two because I imagine it’s just more of the same. And the first two hours were disturbing enough.

First off, anyone who is surprised by this HBO Documentary is living in a dream world similar to the one the King of Pop called his home. There had always been allegations of pedophilia and multi-million dollar payoffs (far more money than one would give away just to settle nuisance suits), and… well… just LOOK AT HIM. 

One thing I didn't know was his "hideout" high rise apartment in Westwood was two blocks from my house.  Thank God my kids never trick-or-treated in that building. 

On stage he was this bad-ass larger-than-life force of nature. And offstage he was this ethereal fragile childlike urchin who clung to the parental support of Elizabeth Taylor. He built an amusement park for himself and frolicked with little children. Who at the office that you work with does that?

His appearance became increasingly ghoulish. His behavior got more outlandish. Any attempt to appear “normal” was laughable. FATHER KNOWS BEST starring Michael Jackson.

The first part of the documentary basically follows two families, one from Australia and one from Simi Valley, California. Half the planet apart but absolutely similar in M.O. The victims are now adults recounting in detail their encounters with the King of Prey. The accounts are heartbreaking, disturbing, and absolutely what you expected all along.

I blame the parents. These were innocent impressionable 7 year-old boys. They had no idea what they were being led into. But what parent in their right mind allows their 7 year-old to hang out with Michael Jackson unsupervised and share a bed with him? Yes, he may be very childlike and fun, but he’s a 30 year-old man and your son is 7! Is the lure of riding a limousine, or staying in a hotel suite, or meeting Sean Connery that great that you’re willing to overlook what so obviously was going on right under your nose? Isn’t it your job to PROTECT your child? When a 30 year-old man’s best friend is your second grader that should be a storm balloon.

So for me the real sickening part of the documentary was not the Michael Jackson tell-all (although it was pretty horrendous), but the mothers trying to come off as victims themselves, as if they were tricked.

Should I watch part two? Are there different things to learn? Once one of the mothers was excited to be in Neverland because there was a movie theatre with FREE candy I almost turned off part one.


KevinW said...

Part 2 is worth watching, I think. Fills in a lot of "why now?" gaps from part 1.

Mike said...

Frank Beans said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
slgc said...

I thought the second part was independently interesting. The Stockholm Syndrome that the victims felt and their eventual breaking away from it. Their not quite happy ever after stories. The reactions of others in their lives.

Mike H. said...

Ken, you nailed it.
Only someone living under a rock didn't know that MJ was a pedophile. This just gives the gruesome details that we all knew were there.
Amazing artist, but SNL had Norm Macdonald doing jokes about this back in the 90's.
Not a surprise, but sad nonetheless.

cityslkrz said...

Agree with kevin. Part 2 gives closure and u see how it finally affected the families.
Oprah’s discussion is fantastic too. She says she did hundreds of shows on child sexual abuse and this doc showed it more succinctly and explained it even better

David said...

All this hue and cry and burning his DVDs and wiping him off our lives are just manufactured frenzy.

Common man doesn't care. He still sees China Town, Annie Hall, Braveheart and will listen to MJ.

Only these internet warriors just scream and create a frenzy which the monkeys report and write articles about and soon they move onto the next target.

Mike said...

2 people come out and accuse and we believe them. What about the man who is being accused? He is dead, so what we have is a one sided story.

Here is a good article which puts things in perspective.

'The other side of the current Michael Jackson story is that the allegations contained in Leaving Neverland are uncorroborated. The two accusers have radically changed their stories over the years and had previously failed in an attempt to sue the Jackson estate for $1.5 billion in damages. These facts too are part of his biography'.

Rick said...

It astonishes me how quickly this society has progressed to the point where college-educated people are now apt to view Netflix and HBO documentaries as being the definitive and unimpeachable sources.

We now uncritically view these sources as being the dispositive in matters relating to history, biography, or, as in the case of Jackson, criminality.

Not so long ago, someone who pointed to a TV show to support their views would have been laughed at.

Unknown said...

I'm with you Ken. Part 1 was enough for me. The alarm systems he had leading to his bedroom...

Red said...

I don't think I can stomach it. The weird thing is I have friends who are otherwise very intelligent who still insist that Jackson was damaged, yes, and "stuck in childhood," yes, but he wasn't a pedophile and a predator. They just somehow know he couldn't have been. It's too frustrating for me; I just can't talk with them about it anymore. They're like the people who still support Trump - they aren't capable of being rational on the subject. They'll ignore the mountain of evidence right in front of them in order to cling to their delusion.

Mike Barer said...

No desire to watch that or Ted Bundy on Netflix, sorry.

VincentS said...

Yes, I blame the parents more than anyone else, but I also blame the public. He admitted on camera that he slept in the same bed with little boys and the public simply turned a blind eye. Why didn't his sales plummet? Why wasn't there a boycott of his concerts and albums? Celebrities are this society's royalty and as with royalty in the Old World we "inferiors" tend to overlook deviant behavior on the part of our elites. To quote Alan Ball's AMERICAN BEAUTY screenplay: Never underestimate the power of denial.

Tim W. said...

I’m amazed at how many people still defend him (although I say the same about Donald Trump). Even before this documentary came, there was already a whole lot of smoke regarding his pedophalia, and if he were anyone else and not in the entertainment industry, none of these people would still be defending him.

Anonymous said...

I think Part 1 is enough. I didn't watch Part 2, but...ugh, Part 1 was enough.

Alan Light said...

A definite yes to watching part 2. It is different (the scandals begin to break in the media - and Jackson is of course trying to cover everything up) and there is much more to learn. The sexual descriptions were 90% covered in part 1 - now see the impact it left on everyone. Also watch the hour-long Oprah special with Wade, James, and the director of the movie.

Paul Duca said...

Do they discuss the damage papa Joe Jackson inflicted on him?

Peter said...

Part 2 is worth watching because you hear from their wives. One review described them as a breath of pure oxygen after all the horrors inflicted by Jackson.

What sickened me the most, other than obviously the revolting details of the abuse, was the revelation that Jackson was actually a wilfully evil and calculating predator. He created an image of being a caring humanitarian but it was a facade to hide behind so he could groom and abuse boys. He didn't give a shit about children. As journalist Maureen Orth put it in one of her articles, as the supposed adorer of all children, he never cared about the welfare of girls. He deliberately tore apart families, drove a wedge between his victims and their parents, all so he could have little boys to himself for his depraved sexual gratification.

An interesting bit of trivia. In 2001, when the first Harry Potter film was released, the director Chris Columbus revealed that Jackson had attempted to make contact with Daniel Radcliffe during shooting but Columbus blocked him. He didn't go into detail as to why, he just said he didn't want Radcliffe distracted. But it's obvious why he blocked Jackson. This anecdote says it all about that paedophile freak. At the age of 42, he was trying to get in touch with an 11 year old boy. It's absolutely stomach turning. Columbus had directed Home Alone, so he knew from experience about Jackson befriending little boys. I think Columbus genuinely saved Radcliffe from becoming another of that monster's victims.

Although his victims didn't get justice when he was alive, there was karma in the fact that he died at 50 a lonely, drug addicted, penniless freak sinking under the weight of hundreds of millions in debt. Good riddance.

No said...

I just realized upon reflection that when I wrote "his weird vanity and moral bankruptcy were pretty much known to the entire world by the early 90s", it could easily apply tenfold to president you-know-who.

And yet our country elected him and installed him in office. It's our culture that is really sick. How do we get out of this fucking mess?

Peter said...

The reaction by hardcore Michael Jackson fans has been very entertaining. Of all the celebrities in the world, Jackson's fans are easily the most unhinged. They've been sending hate mail and death threats to the director and the two men.

Their comments online reveal the extent of the mental gymnastics they go through to justify a grown man sleeping with little boys night after night.

Then there are the comments like "Michael was a pure innocent angel", "Someone who writes a song like this could never harm a child", and my personal favourite, one person commented "Michael was the messiah and Lucifer doesn't like that."

Peter said...

For anyone who's interested, Maureen Orth wrote five brilliant in-depth features for Vanity Fair over the course of 12 years about Jackson which revealed truly shocking and disturbing facts about him, such as the time he had members of South Central gangs brought to Neverland to intimidate his staff, the time he paid a voodoo chief to put a curse on Steven Spielberg and other people on his "enemies list", and crying to the mother of Jordan Chandler that she wouldn't let her son in his bedroom.

By the time you finish the fifth article, you'll wonder how the evil freak got away with his crimes for so long.

normadesmond said...

When Rudy Giuliani said, Truth isn't truth," he had a point. We confuse justice and law with truth. Law can clear someone of a crime (see Jackson, Simpson, i.e.) which can be interpreted as innocence.

Not only did Jackson groom his victims and their families, he groomed all of us!
Talk about walking like a duck, quacking like a duck....oh boy, was he duck.

ODJennings said...

Just a wild guess, but I don't think Disneyland will be bringing back that Captain EO attraction anytime soon.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Related article in today's Irish Times:

And it doesn't even mention Oscar Wilde, who paid underage boys for sex. Must I burn my copy of "The Importance of Being Earnest"?

Mike Bloodworth said...

I always wanted to start a rumor, similar to THE BEATLES' "Paul is dead," that the latter years M.J. was an imposter.

For the record, this is FANTASY. There is absolutely no basis in truth.

The rumor starts out that the real Michael Jackson died in the hospital from complications of his head catching on fire in '84. Because he was the "meal ticket" for his family and a cash cow for others they needed to find a replacement. The guy they hired had the voice and the moves, but didn't look like M.J. Hence all the plastic surgery. To cover up the fact that this wasn't really Michael. Unfortunately, to the horror of the people behind the conspiracy this imposter turned out to be a freak and a pedophile. Because of scandals and all the other trouble he was causing, the "cabal" felt the fake M.J. had to be eliminated. So, they paid off Dr. Conrad Murray to "accidentally" give M.J. the overdose of Propiphal.
But, by then the damage had already been done. Fast forward to today.

As I said this is total FICTION. Yet, is this age of "fake news" and outlandish, internet conspiracy theories I'm surprised that currently, one doesn't see more things similar to this.

It would make a great screenplay, though. Just change the names and situations and you've got a taut thriller.
Staring Tom Cruise as the private investigator hired to expose the truth.

Cat said...

I watched both and I think it's important to watch part two. We need their stories to be heard. Part two completes the journey though MJ's death and after.

McAlvie said...

There's more than enough blame to go around here.

But if you think people only kept silent because of his fame and fortune, think again. From the smallest town to the biggest city, there's always someone that gets whispered about but gets away with it. We're only talking about it now because he was a celebrity. If he was just that weird guy down the street, he'd have been forgotten about by now; but there would still be victims.

Jeff Boice said...

I have no interest in seeing the documentary-I realized that it is important that this gets documented, but that doesn't mean I want to watch it.

I second the comments about Michael Jackson's obvious bizarre descent . Just look at photos of him from the time of Thriller and then look at photos taken in the early 90's. I mean Phil Spector was making jokes about Jackson's appearance...

I never had any of his songs on my I-POD but I understood his importance. I have no problem listening to his songs on satellite radio-I just think "this was before he weirded out."

I do have a problem with Woody Allen's 70's films- have no interest in seeing them again. I keep thinking of Ronan Farrow's observation that Woody is both his father and brother-in-law and it destroys that likable nebbish character Woody played. I know it was just a character, but back then he didn't do much to discourage the idea that he was like that in real life.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'm just glad he's dead.

Frank Beans said...

Ken, can you please remove the comment from 9:02 am on this thread this morning. I did not mean to post it under my name, Blogger did it without my knowledge. I am sorry for the inconvenience, I will be super-extra careful next time just to use my handle. But I really don't want a lot of crazy Jackson and/or Trump fans on my ass.

It won't happen again!

Please, please remove it. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Willa M says,

@VincentS "Yes, I blame the parents more than anyone else, but I also blame the public... To quote Alan Ball's AMERICAN BEAUTY screenplay: Never underestimate the power of denial."

Vincent, you make a great point but miss another one. The parents, the public and the entertainment industry as a business is to blame. In other words. we all share the blame.

It's easy to sit back and condemn others now, but how about everyone all over the world who adored Michael Jackson like some kind of God, some kind of genius, even when his strange behavior was staring them in the face? We were being fed this by Entertainment Tonight, his record labels, his fellow show business peers who extolled him. We were being told how great he was. We were almost crazy if we didn't get it.

Ken, you are too close to celebrities to be dazzled by them. You've been in the business too long. If Jackson was indeed guilty of courting the parents before victimizing the children, weren't they getting the stamp of approval from the public and the media about his wonderful charities and his love of magical childhood?

He had an 3D movie at Disneyland! The lines were miles long! Those people are all saying how disgusted they are now, and some of them are denying the stories, because the power of publicity and peer pressure, once it digs inside, is sometimes lifelong.

When the Jackson accusations came out, he was a pariah for a while among his peers and the media. Then he was cleared, and they warmed up again. Then he died and everyone loved him and he was a genius again. Now this movie comes out and we can talk about how stupid other people are for buying into his deceptions.

But aren't we all easily led by stardom? Let's go back a few years to several Oscar telecasts where Kevin Spacey was revered, everyone fell all over themselves to adore him and the press picked up on his every wise word.

The parents were wrong, but who really did the convincing? Jackson had a lot of endorsements.

MikeKPa. said...

This was an easy documentary to make. The man is dead. Lots of lawsuits and settlements preceded him. The one that would take a lot more courage to produce, and probably would never air, is about the still living pedophiles. Those current or fired in the TV and movie industry and why execs chose to look the other way, other than the obvious -- they were moneymakers. I'm really surprised Ronan Farrow hasn't jumped on that story.

Astroboy said...

I've been wondering a lot later: who's cult is stronger, Trump's or Jackson's? They both seem the same to me. I wonder if MJ could shoot a 7 year old kid on 5th Ave. and not lose a fan? Well, that's a silly thing to write, but I bet he wouldn't lose EVERY fan.

Shrill1 said...

Amazingly, CBS ran a new Michael Jackson animated Halloween special less than 18 months ago. Even without years of disturbing rumors, the fact the guy died as a sad, aging junkie should have given someone at the network a second thought.
Also interesting to me is the slavish nature of his media coverage and his fan base. For the longest time (and sadly, even now if you took a poll), Michael Jackson was presented as the greatest entertainer in history. In truth, he produced very little new music for the last 15 years of his career. That's a long fallow period. When Blood on the Dance Floor (a collection of new and old songs) was released in 1997, the record label did zero promotion in the US since no one in America was buying his album anymore.

Jeff Maxwell said...

A million years ago, my friend, Rick, who happened to be a music executive, invited me to a private screening at Universal of a little movie called, E.T.. The movie over, he and I walked out of the theater heading for his car parked on the lot. On the way, we found a slim fellow huddled against a wall of a sound stage. He was alone, and he was sobbing uncontrollably. He was Michael Jackson.

Rick knew Michael and was very surprised and concerned by what we were witnessing. We walked up, Rick greeted him and asked if he was alright. With tears streaming down his face, he turned to say in a falsetto voice, “Ohhh Rick, wasn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?” Rick complimented the film and introduced me. Shaking my hand, he said: "Hellooooo, soooo nice to meet you. That was the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen.” We chatted for another minute and politely left him to his wall.

I teared up in the screening, but here was a grown man, touched to his core, sobbing over E.T. like a little boy. Shaking hands with him was like shaking hands (if one had hands) with a butterfly. He was razor thin, wispy, ephemeral, but I will never forget his presence.

I was never really a Jackson fan, but no one can ignore his talent and ability to ignite the world. My heart goes out to those impacted by his behavior. What a waste.

Peter said...


He was an adult man sleeping in a bed night after night with little boys.

blinky said...

Michael Jackson and Donald Trump: Experts at commiting crime in plain sight.

Peter said...

I've looked up what Ken and readers posted on the day Wacko died. There were some real gems.

Ken wrote:

"Fans are also gathering at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But it's the wrong Michael Jackson. They're paying tribute to the radio talkshow host, Michael Jackson."

"One fan said the world’s going to unite, just like they did with Obama. She said his death was on a par with Martin Luther King and Gandhi. And this fan went on to predict, “You’re going to see a paradigm shift in the consciousness of what one man did.” I’m not sure what that means but I’m using it my next eulogy."


Comment by Yekimi:
"I heard that since he's like 90% plastic now, they're going to have him melted down and turned into Legos so the kids can play with him for a change."

Comment by D. McEwan:
"Tonight, the kids of the world will sleep a little safer. I know he was a huge influence on 20th Century pop music and entertainment, but for me that doesn't even approach justifying the monster he became. His passing is, like it or not, the best thing that could have happened for his kids. While they will never know normal lives, at least he's finished screwing them up personally."

Janet said...

These Michael Jackson molester rumors or allegations or stories (whichever you prefer to call them) have really been around for decades.

Why are we believing them now where they weren't treated with the same weight as the past?

Just for the record I have long believed him guilty, for pretty much everything Ken says in his article.

I haven't seen the documentary that the power that grants new weight to it?

Or is it that Jackson is 10 years gone that allows for people to consider anew?

What would have happened with this documentary if Jackson were still alive?

And then of course there is the question, can we still enjoy the music if Jackson was a pedophile?

Klee said...

I watched both, no documentary has scared me more than this one...a true horror tale! Yeah and those mothers should've been put in jail. They'd have better care from "Bubbles", the chimp than from those two idiots!!

DWC said...

No interest in watching. No need to confirm what I already knew.

An open secret in the legal profession, in which I work, is when Johnnie Cochran negotiated the first settlement involving accusations against Jackson, Cochran told him in no uncertain terms he better not ask him to represent him a second time because he wasn't going to help him buy his way out again. Sure enough, when it happened again, Jackson went to Cochran and was told to well, f off. Even Cochran had his limits.

Another actual little known fact. When Jackson died, he really wasn't in that coffin during the splashy service and in fact wasn't entombed for months. The coffin was never paid for. Forest Lawn carted his carcass from Forest Lawn to Forest Lawn, usually in the back of a flower delivery truck. The family refused to pay Forest Lawn. They (Joe Jackson) told Forest Lawn they should feel honored to be the cemetery to have him and do it gratis. Since they had other "customers" to deal with, they would shuttle the body from place to place, wherever they had room. He spent quite a lot of time stored at Forest Lawn Sunnyside in Long Beach. He was one slowly rotting pin cushion (needlemarks everywhere, truly everywhere) when Berry Gordy finally said enough and allowed him to be put in an unused crypt he owned. Eventually the family paid up.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 is worth watching, difficult as the subject matter is. There is a cumulative effect, narratively. You feel why 4 hours was probably the right length for the filmmaker to tell these two stories that are tragically yet unsurprisingly similar. But there is a certain catharsis, however slight, that comes with watching to the end.

YEKIMI said...

Peter, I was making Michael Jackson jokes BEFORE he was dead and well before he was weird!

Gary said...
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McAlvie said...

What I remember most about the day he died? Being upset because he upstaged Walter Cronkite, who was much more deserving of recognition.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I can understand the outrage and even people's personal decisions to avoid consuming anything that's even indirectly related to Jackson, even though I believe there is a separation between artist and product. Personally, I'll still listen to Jackson songs. Other people put real work and effort to make these, and they deserve to have their work stand the test of time.

What I don't agree with is when corporations decide to ban such material. Fox and Gracie's decision to erase the SIMPSONS episode Stark Raving Dad from the show's history is nothing short of a mess. Jackson isn't even credited on the actual episode (despite providing the voice of the guest character). He doesn't even sing (a Jackson impersonator does). You can't erase an episode from a long running TV show. This is McCarthyism, no two ways about it.

I still own the season 3 DVD boxset with the Jackson episode (and which also has Ken's second episode, SATURDAYS OF THUNDER). I'm holding on to it and preserving it.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Janet Ybarra: I'm so far removed from pop music that I wouldn't be able to identify a Michael Jackson song, so I didn't watch much of the documentary. However, what seemed compelling about the evidence presented to me as I skipped to random spots and read a summary was the detail - not of the sex, but of the protections against being caught. The series of alarm bells, the parents being kept further and further away from MJ's bedroom, etc.

Peter: Good on the HARRY POTTER director, though I doubt Daniel Radcliffe was in the same kind of danger. The famous kids like Macauley Culkin etc. seem to have gotten very different treatment, possibly because since they were already famous themselves their parents weren't so easily seduced.


Peter said...


Cronkite died in July of that year. It was Farrah Fawcett who died the same day as wacko and whose death was overshadowed by the gloved paedophile.

"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Toddler)" said...

It was fitting that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson went together. How many young boys whacked it for the first time in front of them?

lauramcc said...

so finally watched and it is really upsetting. But. I think people are missing the point. As Ken says, this is mostly old news, but I think putting everything together in one place has value for young men and women gong foward. specifically, to all you who find it so easy to judge these men and especially these women, how dare you? The people coming forward here and now have nothing to gain except the hope that future generations won't fall victim to these kinds of shenanigans. God bless them for it. It can't have been easy, especially for the mothers, knowing what kinds of abuse they would be subjected to for the rest of their lives. Think about it: What if the most popular kingmaker in the universe signaled out your child as a rare talent? We all want to believe the best in people is what I'm saying, and how much stronger is that impulse when there is so much to gain?

If anyone is interested, I think it's valuable to watch this in conjunction with "THE TALE" also on HBO and starring Laura Dern to see just how insidious this kind of behavior is to all levels of society. It's an absolutely fearless portrayal of sexual grooming and it's a crime Laura wasn't nominated for her performance.

D McEwan said...

Part two is very well worth seeing. The mothers' two very different reactions to MJ's death, one was celebratory, the other was still drinking the Kool-Aid, should be seen, for one thing.

It's worth all of it to get to the scene when Wade Robson finally breaks down, at a taco truck of all places, and unexpectedly confesses all to his brother, his sister, and his wife. I blubbered like a baby. Their father had committed suicide, for unrelated reasons, and they were all afraid to tell the truth to their mother for fear she too would kill herself. And the mothers do confess their own guilt ("How could I have been so blind?") eventually.

Both men found their past overwhelming their present when they became fathers themselves. One tells of vivid nightmares in which he saw MJ do to his baby all he had done to him, and speaks of how, "I wanted to dig him up and kill him again."

Yeah, it's worth it. The story ain't over in part one. It's not even over when MJ dies.

D McEwan said...

"Anonymous Peter said...
I've looked up what Ken and readers posted on the day Wacko died"

Peter, thanks for saving me the trouble of looking up what I posted when MJ died. I stand by my words of that day,