Part one of the controversial Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland, premiered Sunday on HBO, and sent the internet into an uproar with viewers — and celebs — taking to Twitter to voice their reactions to the allegations made in the film.
Leaving Neverland, directed by Dan Reed, details allegations of sexual abuse leveled against the late music icon, and features interviews with accusers James Safechuck and Wade Robson.
In the film, Safechuck and Robson — now married adults with sons of their own — claim they engaged in sexual relationships with Jackson that started when both were underage, 10 and 7 years old, respectively. Through on-camera interviews, they recall how they each first met the music icon and later, became closer and closer with the pop star.
As has been the case with Jackson’s long and complicated history of facing similar allegations — all of which the singer staunchly denied while alive — there are many who are speaking out against his alleged actions, and many others who fervently reject and rebuke the allegations against the entertainer.
Many viewers spoke out in support of Safechuck and Robeson, expressed their disgust with the claims made in the film, and seemingly called out those who still support Jackson in light of the multiple allegations.
The survivors are brave. .@Oprah is brave. The documentarians are brave. This is what brave is folks, standing against the grain, going against the norm, rocking the boat because sometimes it needs to be rocked. It is hard to hear truth, but that’s what growing pains are. #Brave https://t.co/luV8wiImAp
— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) March 3, 2019
— Scott Alan (@ScottAlan) March 4, 2019
As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) March 4, 2019
Michael Jackson super fans are really going hard in my comments for simply sharing an article by a cultural critic who shared his opinion on the doc. This is one of the kindler, gentler comments. I mean, Annie, are you okay? ‘Cause this is a lot. 🥺 https://t.co/GWQIIPiyKa
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 4, 2019
Lot of disturbing details I wasn’t ready for. #LeavingNeverland
— Bryan Greenberg (@bryangreenberg) March 4, 2019
NEVER WOULD I EVER LET MY CHILD SLEEP IN THE SAME ROOM/ BED WITH A GROWN MAN. Period. #LeavingNeverland
— Kailah Casillas (@kailah_casillas) March 4, 2019
It takes days to recover from this documentary. Five minutes in you will think to yourself “oh my God, every word they are saying is true.” https://t.co/JMoA6Y0dEo
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) March 2, 2019
Some of y'all: R. Kelly and Michael Jackson were found not guilty, the law proves it!
Also y'all: The criminal justice system is flawed and let guilty men like George Zimmerman get away. It can also be manipulated by the super rich & famous.#LeavingNeverland
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) March 4, 2019
Latoya changed her story about Michael's abuse.
Michael changed his story about paternity & surgery.
The family changed their story about Joe's abuse.
Everyone is allowed to change their story, except traumatized sexually abused boys?? #LeavingNeverland
— STOP CHILD ABUSE (@MissInforms) February 28, 2019
It’s amazing how brainwashed MJ fans are even now. I believe Wade & Jimmy. MJ was not a saint or God he was a fallible human being just as capable of evil as anyone else. #LeavingNeverland
— 50 Shades of Harry (@dimplesofdoom) March 4, 2019
— J Pennie 🍁🍂🍁 (@penntoface) March 4, 2019
It’s been a rough few years but at least I can take comfort in enjoying Michael Jackson. Now by sheer coincidence to turn on HBO
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) March 4, 2019
However, there were many who came to Jackson’s defense. Some criticized the documentary itself for how it portrays the accusers while others pointed out how the singer was acquitted on all counts when tried on multiple criminal charges, including four counts of molesting a minor, in June 2005.
Many critics also called into question the reliability of Safechuck and Robeson — often without clear cause or justification — including Jackson’s nephew, Taj Jackson.
You are right. I’ve been around my uncle only thousands and thousands of hours. And since my uncle is not here to defend himself, the credibility of the accusers matter. And Wade and James have none. https://t.co/fF0OgYXUBz
— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) March 4, 2019
15 years of investigations & proven INNOCENT. Now Defaming a man that’s in his grave & not here to defend himself should be criminal. #HBO expose the real cases that go on in Hollywood everyday and leave Michael alone. #LeavingNeverland #MJfam #MJfamUnite #MichaelJackson #Love
— Arika Kane™ (@arikakane) March 3, 2019
michael jackson was investigated for 10+ years (phones tapped, computers tapped, etc) and they found absolutely NOTHING. ask yourself, would law enforcement allow a black man to get away with such heinous crimes? #LeavingNeverland #MJInnocent
— izzy🕊 (@peacelovemjj) March 4, 2019
from a storytelling standpoint #LeavingNeverland is a very bad documentary. I’m up to listen the stories of survivors of any abuse. I’m on their side always, but this being about the greatest megastar in the world and a dead person, I expected a lot more of facts and research.
— Gabriel Torrelles (@gabetorrelles) March 4, 2019
— BallerAlert (@balleralert) March 4, 2019
Michael Jackson was under FBI surveillance for well over a decade. They found NOTHING to substantiate claims of child abuse. He was also fully exonerated following his '05 trial. #LeavingNeverland fails to highlight these FACTS – and MJ is no longer here to defend himself.
— Elgin Charles (@ElginCharles) March 4, 2019
Honestly Michael Jackson, RIP, has been dead for nearly 10 years now, can y'all not just let the man rest in peace?? Also he's innocent, why are we still on this?
— 👑Queen👑 (@_miyapapaya) March 3, 2019
Following its debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Leaving Neverland was met with immediate backlash from Jackson’s fans and from the singer’s family, who slammed the production in the press repeatedly.
The Jackson estate also also filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO ahead of its premiere, calling the documentary “unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself.”
Leaving Neverland airs Sunday, March 3 at 8 p.m. ET and concludes Monday, March 4 at 8 p.m. ET. Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland airs Monday, March 4 at 10 p.m. ET.