Less than a year after The Simpsons creator Matt Groening confirmed one of the most persistent fan theories surrounding his most famous work—now in its 30th season—fans will hear Lisa’s birthday song far less often.
Amid the fallout from the accusations made in the HBO documentary, Leaving Neverland, longtime Simpsons producer James L. Brooks has announced that his team will be pulling its episode featuring pop singer Michael Jackson from circulation, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Brooks cited the documentary’s “evidence of [Jackson’s] monstrous behavior” for the decision to remove the episode, despite it being one of his personal favorites. While Brooks acknowledged the long process of pulling episodes from streaming hubs, DVD sets and television networks would be arduous, he made it clear that the process had already begun.
“I’m against book burning of any kind,” Brooks said. “But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”
Brooks told the Journal that removal was “clearly the only choice to make.” The Season 3 episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” features a tall, portly patient at a mental facility who believes he is Michael Jackson. Jackson, who voiced the character’s non-singing lines, was barred from singing due to the language of his recording contract and watched over a sound-alike who sang in his stead.
Groening, Brooks and screenwriter/producer Al Jean agreed to pull the episode after watching the four-hour, two-part documentary, which aired on HBO Sunday and Monday. In the documentary, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who were 10 and seven when they met the pop star, detail years of sustained sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Jackson. Brooks made it clear that the decision was simple for the show’s power trio.
“The guys I work with—where we spend our lives arguing over jokes—were of one mind on this,” Brooks said. Admitting that he and his colleagues had begun watching while wishing to “believe the thing that we believe,” Brooks told the Journal that the documentary was both convincing and heartbreaking to watch. Brooks, who cited Jackson’s 2005 acquittal when pressed on their decision to keep the episode in circulation, believed the documentary had removed all doubt.