Supporters abandon Jackson en masse

Michael Jackson, pictured at a news conference in 1996, faced major abuse allegations before his death. AFP/File/VINCENT AMALVY

Michael Jackson, pictured at a news conference in 1996, faced major abuse allegations before his death. AFP/File/VINCENT AMALVY

The documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ has hit a nerve with even Michael Jackson’s most staunch supporters.

The documentary Leaving Neverland is taking a noticeable toll on Michael Jackson’s legacy with an increasing number of friends and celebrities withdrawing the support they have offered the singer over the years.

Most recently ardent Michael Jackson defender and 80s child star Corey Feldman took to CNN’s Headline News to say: “I can not in good consciousness defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous things.”

Feldman, who has always maintained that his friendship with Jackson was platonic and has thus defended the hitmaker at every possible opportunity, said that watching the documentary had changed his mind.

The film examined disturbing claims by James Safechuck and Wade Robson that Jackson sexually abused them over a period of several years when they were children.

“It comes to a point where as an advocate for victims, as an advocate for changing the statutes of limitations to make sure victims’ voices are heard, it becomes impossible for me to remain virtuous and not at least consider what’s being said and not listen to what the victims are saying,” he said.

“This is very important. We must give them their voice. We must allow them to speak, and therefore we must consider all sides of this, even as uncomfortable as that may be.”

Feldman’s change of heart comes soon after producers for the hit TV show The Simpsons announced they would be deleting the episode Jackson guest-starred on from their archives in light of the newest revelations.

The episode called “Stark Raving Dad”, which appears in season three, will be pulled from syndication and streaming services, executive producer James L. Brooks said to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

In the episode, Jackson plays Leon Kompowsky, a mental hospital patient who ends up sharing a room with Homer Simpson, and who sings his classic Billie Jean, showing off his iconic moonwalk dance moves.

“This was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain,” Brooks said on the episode.

“The guys I work with– where we all spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this. It feels clearly the only choice is to make. The documentary gave evidence of monstrous behaviour,” Brooks said.

“I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”

Numerous radio stations around the world, including the Nova Entertainment Group (who own a series of stations in Australia), Fix Radio in the UK, and America’s 98 Rock, have also been announcing they will no longer be playing Jackson’s music.

“The decisions we make about the music we play on any of our stations are dependent on the relevance to the audience and the current context,” said Paul Jackson, Nova Entertainment’s Group Programme Director.

(Compiled by Warren Robertson)

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