Michael Jackson’s brothers Jackie, Marlon and Tito and his nephew Taj speak out against HBO child sex abuse documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
After HBO’s Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland” aired Sunday and Monday, several famous names took to Twitter to comment on the film’s controversial elements.
The documentary is centered around Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, who tell their stories of Jackson allegedly sexually abusing them at ages 7 and 10, respectively, when they were in the singer’s inner circle at the height of his fame.
The documentary was immediately followed by an Oprah sit-down, during which she interviewed the accusers.
Ellen DeGeneres tuned in on Monday night, tweeting, “I’m watching @Oprah interview James Safechuck and Wade Robson from #LeavingNeverland on @OWNTV. I hope everyone watches this. #AfterNeverland”
Rosie O’Donnell was one of several stars who said she was watching “Leaving Neverland” on Sunday night. “michael jackson docu is on now on HBO – haunting …” she tweeted.
O’Donnell also watched “Leaving Neverland” on Monday, posting a photo of her TV on Instagram, writing, “I believe u”
Rose McGowan praised Oprah and the subjects of the documentary.
“The survivors are brave. @Oprah is brave. The documentarians are brave,” McGowan wrote. “This is what brave is folks, standing against the grain, going against the norm, rocking the boat because sometimes it needs to be rocked. It is hard to hear truth, but that’s what growing pains are. #Brave”
However, Jermaine Jackson, the older brother of Michael and member of The Jackson Five, slammed Oprah and the media for “blindly taking #LeavingNeverland at face value.”
He accused the media of “shaping a narrative uninterested in facts, proof, credibility,” adding that a “trial-by-law proved Michael’s innocence long ago.”
“We faced similar ‘graphic’ claims + trial-by-media in ’05,” Jackson tweeted Monday. “Jury saw through it all… Fact.”
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And actor Corey Feldman, who has been vocal about his experience with sexual abuse in Hollywood as a child, posted a long defense of Jackson, tweeting in part, “OK I watched it all I know is what I experienced, & yes every experience was the same….right up 2 the sex part! That is where it becomes LaLa Land, instead of Neverland 4 me. …
“I feel like if ppl could hear our convos they would hear the innocence in them. No hint of perversion. …
“So as much as those 2 men deserve 2 (have) their voices heard, so do the thousands of kids who hung around him, that don’t agree!”
Wendy Williams also voiced her doubts, telling the crowd at “The Wendy Williams Show” Monday that while she believed that Jackson showered and hosted sleepovers with young boys, she did not think “that there was any sexual touching.”
“I don’t believe a word of anything in this documentary,” she told the audience. “Michael is no innocent, but that’s not him.”
Amber Tamblyn spoke out in favor of “Leaving Neverland,” writing on Twitter, “As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul (sic) purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland.”
Bill Maher, whose “Real Time” show also airs on HBO, tweeted his praise of Richard Plepler, the since-departed HBO CEO who led the network through the past few months of “Leaving Neverland”-related controversies, including a $100 million lawsuit from the Jackson estate.
“Just watched Neverland doc – riveting, as has been so much on HBO with Richard Plepler at the helm, now resigned,” Maher wrote. “I don’t usually speak publicly about the inner workings of the/my biz, but just have to say…best boss I’ll ever have.”
“It takes days to recover from this documentary,” Judd Apatow wrote about his viewing experience. “Five minutes in you will think to yourself ‘oh my God, every word they are saying is true.'”
Ava DuVernay called out the pro-Michael Jackson Twitter trolls that came for her after she shared an article criticizing Jackson.
“Michael Jackson super fans are really going hard in my comments for simply sharing an article by a cultural critic who shared his opinion on the doc,” she wrote, linking to a tweet that called her a “sellout” and “trash.”
Meanwhile, performer Amanda Palmer was inspired to write a poem from the perspective of Jackson’s accusers.
“Never accuse you will not be believed and you were to blame for being wantable,” she tweeted.
Jackson’s estate has condemned the documentary in multiple statements and called Robson and Safechuck’s credibility into question.
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