Intense backlash against Michael Jackson after ‘Leaving Neverland’

Intense backlash against Michael Jackson after 'Leaving Neverland'
Michael Jackson’s cover photo for the multiplatinum “Bad” album, circa 1987.

Michael Jackson’s legendary producing partner, Quincy Jones, once told this writer that, nearly four decades after the two launched Thriller and Off the Wall into orbit, he still hears the King of Pop’s music played in nightclubs in many countries around the world.

However, on the 10-year anniversary of the venerated singer’s premature death at age 50, the world has announced it is going to ban the former Jackson 5 lead singer’s music from rotation.

The thunderclap of a documentary, HBO’s Leaving Neverland, has reignited the controversy surrounding Jackson, and now radio stations around the world are responding by pulling the singer’s songs.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck allege that when they were children, Jackson preyed upon them for years. They shared their stories in graphic detail, replete with a follow-up interview with Oprah Winfrey on “After Neverland.” Following the airing on HBO last weekend, dozens of radio stations are refusing to air Jackson’s music, including New Zealand stations that broadcast to over half of the population, The Guardian has reported.

State-owned RNZ said its decision is “a reflection of our audiences and their preferences.” NZME director Dean Buchanan said, “Playlists change from week to week and right now Michael Jackson does not feature on them.”

Some stations in Canada are doing the same. Montreal’s French-language stations CKOI and Rythme and the English-language “The Beat,” are imposing an indefinite moratorium on MJ’s music until further notice, The Guardian stated.

Another media company, Cogeco, which owns 23 smaller stations, said it refused to play Jackson anymore, either. According to the newspaper, the stations are not necessarily proclaiming Jackson’s guilty, but are bowing to public pressure.

Jackson’s family decried the one-sided documentary as a postmortem hit job and the Thriller singer’s estate has filed a $100M lawsuit, saying in a statement that the two-part docuseries is an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.” 
Moreover, MJ’s childhood friends, such as Home Alone star MacCauley Culkin and Lost Boys star Corey Feldman — who were conspicuously not interviewed for Leaving Neverland — continue to support Jackson, while simultaneously denying the “Billie Jean” lyricist ever abused them. 
Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed counters Jackson’s supporters with this thought: “People will have to listen to his music in the knowledge that he was a prolific child rapist,” he said. “If they’re comfortable doing that, fine. If they’re not, well perhaps listen to something else for a while.”
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