Back when Wacko’s ‘misdemeanors’ shall we call them, were less known, and he did that interview with Martin Bashir, I felt pretty sorry for him. Obviously a deeply troubled man, he also seemed a victim himself – to his father, to fame, to the music industry. Deifying someone to that extent is, in my opinion, a disaster waiting to happen, but now with the brave stories of the boys he allegedly abused and the recent Leaving Neverland documentary coming to light, it’s becoming increasingly likely that MJ was never the real victim.
As much as fans don’t like the thought of it, especially because he’s not here to defend himself, the growing evidence around his abuse of several boys – including Wade Robson and James Safechuck – is getting harder and harder to ignore.
With the HBO documentary recently premiering in the US, and set to air in the UK on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight, the growing media and public backlash has prompted several radio stations around the world to ban the singer’s music.
New Zealand stations have almost entirely removed the his work from their playlists, after two of the country’s largest networks – which own most of its commercial stations – said they would no longer play Jackson’s songs.
“Michael Jackson isn’t currently on any MediaWorks Radio stations’ playlists,” company director for radio Leon Wratt said in a statement. “This is a reflection of our audiences and their preferences – it is our job to ensure our radio stations are playing the music people want to hear.”
A spokesman for Radio NZ, a publicly-funded broadcaster, said it would only play Jackson if it was “part of a news story or to provide color around a commentary piece.”
Furthermore, four major stations in Canada have also stopped playing Jackson’s music, including three in Montreal and one in Quebec.
In the UK, the BBC denied imposing such a ban after Variety reported that Jackson’s music had been “quietly dropped” from one of its stations.
As mentioned, this all comes in the wake of the Finding Neverland documentary which has proven to be extremely divisive.
British director Dan Reed has defended Leaving Neverland and said it will demonstrate that the singer was very different from his “Peter Pan-ish image”.
Filmmaker Reed added in a statement:
“If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to.
“It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity.
I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”
However, Michael Jackson’s estate have rigorously denied any wrongdoing by the star. The family released a statement soon after its premiere saying:
“Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family – that is the Jackson way.”
“But we can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on…Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made.”
I’ve got to say the move to ban his music isn’t all that surprising, even if you do think it’s over the top. Radio stations are just protecting the interests of their listeners as well as their reputation as a broadcaster.
As more and more details emerge, though, does this mean all of MJ’s music is ultimately going to be banned? That’d be a crying shame if his incredible backlog of hits was suddenly blacklisted.
Sadly, I’m not sure what other choice we’d have.
Images via Twitter/HBO