The Apollo documentary premiered on HBO last week and covered the Apollo Theater, which is described by The Guardian as “a living piece of black history.” According to Page Six, the theater is one of the reasons the Jackson 5 became famous after the band won the venue’s “amateur night” in 1967. The theater also has a special link to Michael Jackson, as it was home to one of his last public performances in 2002.
Despite the Jackson family’s history with the venue, it was reportedly excluded from the HBO documentary, and Jackson’s nephew, Taj, isn’t happy about the omission.
“How dare you erase black music history,” he tweeted.
“Where is the Jackson 5? The group you helped launch on your stage. Black artists and celebs need to take note. This can happen to you too in the future. Not just my family, I’m so disappointed. Did @HBO @HBODocs make you edit them out.”
HBO aired the Leaving Neverland documentary, which covers allegations of sexual abuse against Jackson. Supporters and family members of the late pop star’s family believe the film is a cash-grab meant to profit off destroying the singer’s legacy. Taj’s reference to the possibility of HBO control over editing The Apollo appears to suggest he believes the network is intent on undermining his uncle’s legacy.
Since the release of Leaving Neverland, Jackson’s estate and HBO have been in a legal dispute. The movie has also sparked a reevaluation of Jackson’s legacy, as evidenced by MTV’s decision to quietly remove the star’s name from its Video Vanguard Award in August.
The Soul of American Culture.
The Apollo Theater jumpstarted the careers of myriad artists from @SmokeyRobinson to Ella Fitzgerald. Learn more about the storied history of the New York City landmark in #TheApolloDoc, starting now on @HBO. pic.twitter.com/lWL4Nbrbl3
— HBO Documentaries (@HBODocs) November 7, 2019
According to Taj, he is planning to create his own documentary that counters the accusations of abuse spotlighted in Leaving Neverland. The 46-year-old claims that the film will begin by covering the 1993 allegations against Jackson and continue to address all the subsequent accusations he faced until his death in 2009. As of now, there is already one film, Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth, that counters Leaving Neverland, and it prominently features the “Smooth Criminal” singer’s former bodyguard, Matt Fiddes.
As for The Apollo, the film’s Academy- and Emmy Award-winning director, Roger Ross Williams, claims that the movie chronicles how black America “lifted itself out of oppression” using “music and art.”
“The artists who performed at the Apollo paved the way for everything we have now,” he said in his interview with The Guardian, although he has not addressed the removal of the Jackson family’s legacy from the film.
“Some of the greatest artists of our time have not only performed there but also been discovered there,” he later said.