The first trailer for “Leaving Neverland” was released by HBO on Wednesday, and the controversy surrounding the film continues to skyrocket. This two-part, four-hour documentary features two now-adult alleged victims of Michael Jackson, who share their story of the sexual abuse they claim took place at his massive California estate, Neverland Ranch.
“He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives,” says Wade Robson in the trailer. Robson, 36, along with James Safechuck, 40, are the two accusers featured in the film. Both men claim that Jackson had been sexually exploiting them beginning at ages 7 and 10, respectively.
"Leaving Neverland” contrasts the innocent, juvenile appeal of Neverland Ranch with the horrific sexual abuse and manipulation that allegedly occurred while Robson and Safechuck stayed there. Both men admit to being starstruck by their interactions with the “King of Pop,” only filing lawsuits several years after they initially told investigators that Jackson never molested them, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The trailer concludes with Robson stating, “I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long.”
Of course, not everyone is happy with the film's release. “Michael is not here to defend himself,” Jackson’s family wrote in a statement, according to Billboard. “Otherwise these allegations would not have been made.” The family went on to call the film a “public lynching,” insisting Jackson was "an easy target because he was unique."
Thousands of Michael Jackson fans continue to accuse director Dan Reed and HBO of digging up the sexual scandal that had already been dismissed years ago. The public has taken on Twitter and Instagram to defend the singer, who passed away in 2009, creating the trending hashtags #JusticeForMJ and #MJInnocent.
Director Dan Reed is ready to defend his project, however, insisting that the film isn't really about the pop star, but the alleged victims and what happened to them and their families once Jackson entered their lives.
“Their words echo the two-decade-long rhetoric of the Jackson family and legal team, which is shaming the victims...I don’t think you can get away with that in 2019 like you could in the past,” Reed told Vice.
Despite the controversy, “Leaving Neverland” received a standing ovation at its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. HBO will air the film on March 3.
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