Michael Jackson is no more. His legacy lives on, both negative and positive.
#LeavingNeverland is a chilling documentary that has been talked about since its first release in Sundance Film Festival.
And since then, there have been protests of all kinds and people have expressed very strong emotions about Jackson and their love for him.
I personally have been biased towards Michael, I want to admit it openly today.
I was a teenager myself when all this stuff about Michael abusing children first made the news. I purposely avoided watching this. The very thought of my favorite pop star being a child molester was so hurtful that I did not want to confront it. What if it turned out to be true? My memories would be ruined forever, memories of my childhood listening to his songs, dancing to his tunes. All of that would be overshadowed with filth and fear, hence I stayed away from any such news and did not even give the survivors a chance to be heard. It was convenient for me this way.
Years passed by and I had been molested multiple times during these years. I had PTSD, learned how to make sense of trauma, read books, met victims of assaults, wrote books on the subject and counseled several survivors myself.
At this stage, when I first saw Leaving Neverland making the news, I did not ignore it like I did in my teenage years. I decided to give it a fair chance. It is still hurtful and I am aware that it would still ruin my memories and all those songs I loved growing up would now have to be deleted cause they would only remind me of the survivors. But still, I decided to watch it on TV when it was aired in the UK, two nights ago.
From the very beginning, not for one second, I felt that the survivors were lying. From their descriptions of how they were totally in awe of MJ, to the point where they had Stockholm syndrome and defended him, it was all familiar and in fact, hit too close to home.
My best friend who is also a huge fan of MJ, her and I have been sharing our views about this whole issue and she has been adamant on MJ’s innocence. And no matter what the survivors say, her end remark is just one “MJ is dead now so you can say whatever you want”.
I suppose many fans of MJ would say the same. But here is the thing: yes he died, which means this is not about MJ, this is not about revenge, not about getting even or anything else at all.
This is about the survivors. About their unburdening themselves, about the charming power and influence of a superstar that blinded the parents of a kid.
Child sexual abuse is extremely complicated and I think that is the lesson we need to learn from all of this. It is not as simple as a binary ‘go tell someone’ as people think it is. The depth of this manipulation is so intense that not only you don’t realize you have been abused, you, in fact, think of yourself as a special, gifted person because the molester makes you think that.
And you can only see the abuse for what it is when you see it happening to someone else or imagine it might happen to someone you love.
Like in the case of these two young men. When they had their own sons, their life went down a spiral. As their own children grew closer to that age, they began to have nightmares about MJ doing all that sexual stuff to their own boys.
And this is how things got so bad, they went to therapy and finally made sense of what happened to them. They could then admit it to themselves that they had been abused.
Fans all over social media are arguing whether or not to believe the survivors. To me, there is not a single ounce of doubt that these two young men would be liars. People don’t just wake up one morning and decide to accuse the pop God MICHAEL JACKSON of sexual abuse because it is so much fun to be on the receiving end of all this hatred and trolling from his fans, right?
The mothers of these boys blame themselves and they have to live their entire lives with this guilt that they were not able to protect their children when they needed them most.
The wives of these men, their own children, so many lives have been affected by this. And these are just two. We don’t even know how many others were there who never came out and who still might be suffering in silence.
And when the world is going ballistic against these two men, guess who is standing by them? The feminist! The same people who you accuse of hating men.
Whether you choose to believe these two men or not, it is your choice but remember that every time you chose not to believe a survivor of sexual assault; a woman or a child around you suffers in silence knowing that you won’t believe their story either.
You may have your own idea of what a ‘perfect victim’ looks like or talks like. Just like you have an image of the perfect pedophile or the perfect rapist. But the truth of the matter is that rapists and molesters don’t look like monsters, they look absolutely normal as any other human. And victims also don’t have to have any special skills or characteristics, they are just usual, regular people with human flaws, who trust easy and share their vulnerabilities with us.
The only and only and only reason why someone would not believe these men after watching this documentary is that they are giving MJ the benefit of doubt and they are blinded by the star power of a super talented artist and fail to see the human with flaws that he was like all other humans.