The recently released documentary, Leaving Neverland — which saw two accusers of Michael Jackson detail their alleged abuse at the pop star’s hands — produced a massive reaction from audiences, both positive and negative. Supporters of the singer put up posters on public transportation buses in London, proclaiming the singer’s innocence, accusing the alleged victims of lying. A Variety report now confirms that those posters will be removed from the buses, after public outcry.
Leaving Neverland is a 2-part documentary released on HBO that saw two purported victims of Michael Jackson’s abuse, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now adults, recount their experiences. The documentary’s supporters believe the film to be incredibly objective, verifying the accounts of Robson and Safechuck and presenting their stories alongside independent investigations. Leaving Neverland has been immensely successful, getting rave reviews, and currently holds a 98 percent rating on the review aggregator site, Rotten Tomatoes.
While the film has received a lot of positive reactions, condemnation of the film wasn’t too far behind. When the documentary premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, protesters demanded the screening be canceled, per IndieWire. Following the film’s release on HBO, the cable network has been sued by the Jackson estate for disparaging his image, as reported by the BBC. Given that the documentary was a British production by filmmaker Dan Reed, produced by British broadcaster Channel 4, the protests occurred in London as well.
A crowdfunding campaign featured on mjinnocent.com sought to post advertisements on buses in London — advertisements that accuse the two men in the documentary to be lying. The slogan read, “Facts don’t lie. People do,” featuring an image of Jackson and the website. The campaign was conceived by the supporters of Michael Jackson who had a unique perspective on the accusations, as mentioned in an article from The Guardian.
“We would not think twice in turning our backs on his legacy if we for one second felt that there was any truth at all in these heinous events.”
The posters were put up by Transport For London, a government organization, who put up the posters in return for ad revenue. However, after the charity organization known as Survivors Trust complained about the posters — claiming that they chastize victims of sexual abuse and would make it harder for other abuse victims to come forward with their stories — Transport for London has now decided to remove the posters from their buses. A representative from Survivors Trust expressed their dismay with the poster having been put up in the first place in the same report from The Guardian.
“The decision to prioritize advertising revenue over the option of remaining neutral on such an emotive topic is disappointing.”
Leaving Neverland is now streaming on HBO.