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Rapper and producer Will.i.am. is the latest celebrity to sound off on the molestation accusations levied at Michael Jackson, and he’s bringing the Holocaust into the discussion.
HBO’s “Leaving Neverland,” a two-part documentary detailing two men’s claims that Jackson molested them throughout their childhoods, has reignited interest in the pedophilia rumors that plagued Jackson throughout his life and even after his death in 2009.
Following the release of the film, Jackson’s legacy has taken a hit; a number of radio stations around the world have decided not to play his music anymore, and “Simpsons” producers recently made the decision to pull an episode featuring Jackson from syndication.
However, some are sticking up for Jackson; aside from his family, who have been vocal about their disapproval of the documentary, celebs like Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand have come to Jackson’s defense, and Will.i.am has since followed their lead.
The 44-year-old producer, whose real name is William Adams, said in an interview with the Evening Standard earlier this week that the backlash against Jackson was hypocritical and part of a “smear campaign.”
“We live in a very, very, very, very hypocritical, double-standard, fake society,” he told the UK outlet. “I can name a thousand other products that we still buy, still use, that are owned by folks that have done the most horrendous things to people, millions of them, and we don’t take their products from the market.”
He went on to reference Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company known today for its aspirin but who is alleged to have experimented on Jews kept in concentration camps in addition to exploiting slave labor, during the Holocaust. The company apologized for its actions during World War II in 1995, according to CNN.
“You’re not talking about banning Bayer that made the chemicals to kill all the Jews. You’re not talking about the real s--t and yet you want to flex on a song?” he said. “Bayer is really responsible for chemicals that killed millions of people but they’re headache medicine now.”
“Are you going to ridicule them for their past? Are there reparations that need to be done for that?” he continued.
Will.i.am went on to compare it to the idea of someone never visiting a country that had ever allowed slavery, or had done “anything ill” in their past.
“I could name a thousand more ills that are worse but we’re going to pull songs?” he said.
The Black-Eyed Peas member, who worked with Jackson before his death, went on to call the late King of Pop “big-hearted” and stated that felt conflicted on the situation.
“I’m torn, because that’s not the Michael Jackson I loved and will always love. It is a smear campaign, there’s been a number of smear campaigns in the past,” he said. “If he did it, it’s sad and inhumane. If he didn’t, what’s happening is sad and inhumane.”
“And for somebody that knows him, you’re torn,” he said. “You have the doc. Your heart wants to believe them but they’re on record lying so how am I supposed to trust that?”
James Safechuck and Wade Robson, the two men whose claims formed the basis of the HBO documentary, both defended Jackson as children after he was accused of molesting a young boy in 1993. As an adult, Robson defended Jackson again during his 2005 trial, but Safechuck did not. Robson and Safechuck filed lawsuits against Jackson’s estate after Jackson’s death — in 2013 and 2014, respectively — but both cases, which alleged that Jackson had molested them repeatedly as children, were dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out.
Jackson was never convicted of any charges and maintained his innocence during life, and his family has continued to do so following his death. His representatives filed a lawsuit against HBO earlier this year, arguing that HBO's decision to air “Leaving Neverland” constitutes disparagement of Jackson, which violates a decades-old contract the network signed with the star.
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