Oprah Knows She's 'Gonna Get' Backlash for After Neverland Special, Says 'It's Bigger Than Any One Person'

(L-R): Dan Reed, Wade Robson, James Safechuck, and Oprah Winfrey appear on After Neverland.
(L-R): Dan Reed, Wade Robson, James Safechuck, and Oprah Winfrey appear on After Neverland.
Screenshot: OWN (YouTube)

Immediately following the second half of HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary was a much-anticipated interview between Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jackson’s accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, as well as the film’s director, Dan Reed. The special aired on Monday evening, with an intimate group of sexual abuse survivors in the studio audience—including #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke.

Understandably, Oprah had several of the same questions that had been stirring in viewers’ minds while watching the documentary, many of which have been expressed on social media. One of the biggest questions concerned Robson’s choice to defend Jackson prior to now.

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“I didn’t think about it, as far as that concept. ... I couldn’t even go there, I couldn’t even question Michael,” Robson said, when asked about his previous testimony defending Jackson. “If I was to question Michael and my story with Michael—my life with Michael—it would mean I would have to question everything in my life. It wasn’t even an option to think about it,” he added.

As mentioned in Leaving Neverland, that perspective shifted when Robson became father to a young son of his own. Corroborating Robson’s account, Safechuck reiterated the stakes the two were against as children.

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“Michael drilled in you, ‘If you’re caught, we’re caught, your life is over, my life is over.’ It’s repeated over and over again, it’s drilled into your nervous system,” Safechuck claimed. “It takes a lot of work to sort through that.”

“So when all the fans and the estate, and all the anger—you guys gonna get it, you know that, right? Y’all gonna get it, I’m gonna get it, we’re all gonna get it,” Oprah concluded. “We’re gonna get it. So are you prepared for that?”

But director Reed continued to defend his choice not to include Jackson’s family, instead centering his accusers. Robson claimed to have received death threats for coming forward. “This is a film that’s not about Jackson. It’s about what happened to Wade and James,” Reed said. “[The estate has] a financial, vested interest in smearing and discrediting these men.”

To wrap things up, Oprah provided more context for the bigger picture and the general issues our society still has around sexual abuse, expressing my own sentiment of the documentary.

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“The story is bigger than—as I said in the beginning, it’s bigger than any one person. And don’t let any person in your world make it just about what Michael Jackson did or did not do,” she noted. “It’s about this thing, this insidious pattern that’s happening in our culture that we refuse to look at.”

In the special, Oprah also read from Jackson’s estate’s statement, which has referred to Leaving Neverland as a “public lynching.” The estate is suing HBO for $100 million.

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“If people are turning away in droves from other very famous people and their work, is the same thing going to happen to Michael Jackson?” Los Angeles lawyer, Adam Streisand, who does not represent the Jackson estate, asked in the Washington Post. “Clearly the estate thinks so.”

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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DISCUSSION

vincentpricelostlaugh
VincentPriceLostHisLaugh

My question is why now?

Having media heavyweights like Oprah and HBO acting like they’re tackling real issues is what’s bothering me. This isn’t water cooler talk. Jackson’s interview with Martin Bashir was like Kelly’s interview with Toure. Red flags everywhere.

I get that the culture is finally changing for the better but this is the same woman who was cool with Weinstein but dislikes Monique. This is the same network that had to be petitioned to not make a show about “what if we still had slavery?” the same year as Charlottesville.

There were probably thousands of children that went to Neverland. Why focus on the ones who lack judicial credibility? He has been dead for ten years so start airing out his accomplices who are still living. This dude had an anesthesiologist on call and you’re telling me he had no network of complicit employees? Latoya Jackson has shown she’ll bark like a dog if the check is right so lean on her to spill whatever tea we don’t know. Does Debbie Rowe benefit from the estate? Lean on her and them.

Let me make it clear for those who think I am defending him even though my posting history shows otherwise: He did that shit.

dream hampton didn’t endure bomb threats and scorn from her own community so that Michael Avenatti could get an invite to the cookout. Similarly, these kids didn’t get touched to pay their parents’ mortgages so that two of America’s preapproved spaces for serious discussion can get views.

Start nailing people to the wall instead of trying to get your gold star.