As someone who’s always scrolling through Apple News on my phone, I tend to pick up on key topics fairly quickly. Normally, buzz words include “border wall,” “Brexit,” “immigration” etc. Lately, however, my notifications have been flooded with “Leaving Neverland,” “Michael Jackson” and “sexual abuse.”
My social media feeds have been filled with reactions to the news that Michael Jackson allegedly molested Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, when they were boys. These allegations were fleshed out in “Leaving Neverland,” a recent HBO documentary directed by British television director Dan Reed. Although I do not open Facebook frequently, when I happen to scroll through my feed it mostly consists of my friends and family either worshipping or slamming Jackson for what he allegedly did (or, according to some, didn’t) do.
It’s hard to put a finger on what really happened to these young boys and their relationship with Jackson. None of us were there to witness it happen. It is hard to place oneself in the mind of other people. No one can read minds. None of us can tell what really happened but Robson and Safechuck.
People are slamming the two men for slandering Jackson’s name after his passing. However, it is important to remember that these things do indeed happen. Even closer after Jackson’s death, authorities discovered child pornography in his mansion. It is important to remember that even though Jackson was, and even is, considered the “King of Pop,” he was not, nor was he ever, perfect. Celebrities like Jackson are considered “untouchable,” but they are not.
Regardless of whether the allegations are true, this circumstance has brought to light the importance of being aware of what happens or can happen behind closed doors. People are so quick to assume the way people live their lives. Whether it was a life of perfection or a life of recklessness, no one will truly know what Jackson was really doing. It is a double-edged sword.
No one will truly know the scenarios of Robson and Safechuck’s childhoods, but thinking that these two men are lying about serious sexual assault allegations furthers the stigma that nothing good comes from sharing a sexual assault story.
It is sad to see people fighting over the internet about whether a man considered an icon who sang world-famous pop tunes was a child rapist. It is almost even sadder to see people fighting over whether the two other men, Robson and Safechuck, were lying about their experiences with a child rapist.
No one wants to think about their icon being a horrible person. Especially for the African American community—for Jackson, a black man, to be such a universal American character is not something that could’ve been said before the 1950s. Not to mention, he had a stage presence for most of his life, after starting out with his brothers in the group Jackson 5. People will not want to accept that the man they’ve looked up to for a majority of their life is a sick child rapist.
This circumstance is similar to Bill Cosby. The Cosby Show was so prevalent and wide-spread, similar to Jackson, which makes it so difficult for people to see the obviously present fault.
Hopefully these circumstances show that although people can be icons, and they can be someone for young people to look up to, but they can also be criminals, corrupt and nefarious.
It is OK to feel a bit of disbelief that these accusations are coming out of the woodwork, but we also shouldn’t immediately discredit the accusers because of what we thought of an icon beforehand.
Don’t forget that celebrities are human too, and that humans can do terrible things. Instead of staying in denial about what you don’t want something to be, accept the possibility of the truth, and understand that we’re all humans capable of terrible things, including Michael Jackson.