The new documentary about Michael Jackson's sexual assault allegations has led to shock from critics and now a strong defense from the late singer's family, with one nephew calling Leaving Neverland a "one-sided hit job."
The four-hour documentary exploring the many allegations against Jackson debuted this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival. It centered largely around allegations from two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of whom said the singer molested them when they were younger. As People magazine noted, Michael Jackson's family has come out strongly against the claims made in the documentary.
Taj Jackson, Michael's nephew, spoke out on Saturday and said Robson had been close with the family and that they know the truth about his allegations.
"My family and I have known Wade and his family since he came to America. Don't tell me a four-hour, one-sided hit job that you watched is more reputable than people who actually knew him and saw his interactions," he wrote on Twitter on Saturday. "This is all about money and the desperate need to be relevant again."
Taj Jackson had already started a GoFundMe page to raise money for a counter-documentary that he claimed would expose the claims against the later singer as false. So far, it has raised nearly $30,000 toward a $777,000 goal, prompting many of Jackson's fans to offer their support.
In a statement to People magazine, Taj Jackson pointed out that the director of Leaving Neverland admitted he only interviewed the alleged victims and their families, not seeking out the Jackson family or others who knew the singer for comment.
"By choosing not to include any of these independent voices who might challenge the narrative that he was determined to sell, the director neglected fact checking so he could craft a narrative so blatantly one-sided that viewers never get anything close to a balanced portrait," the statement read.Michael Jackson had stood trial in 2005 for child sexual abuse allegations and was acquitted, but he remained dogged by allegations until his death in 2009. The documentary Leaving Neverland has already prompted a strong reaction from critics who noted the shocking nature and graphic details included from the alleged victims. The documentary was released just weeks after another docu-series exploring sexual assault claims against R&B singer R. Kelly, and together, the two have prompted debate over whether a musician's legacy and art could still be appreciated amid the allegations against them.