Kate Hawkesby: Leaving Neverland left me conflicted, confused

Kate Hawkesby ,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 7:15AM
Michael Jackson. Photo / Getty Images


I watched the Leaving Neverland documentary yesterday.

Well the first part anyway, and I don't think I'm up for the second half.

It's a tough watch.

I can see why more than half of TV One's audience on the first night had switched it off by the end.

A whopping 716,000 people tuned in, but by the end of it, only 284,000 were left. I'm not surprised.

As far as documentaries go, it was drawn out, intense, graphic, it did not need to be this long I'm sure.

But as for the content - yuck is the only way to describe it, on all fronts. The two men calling Jackson out, whether they are telling the truth or not, don't appear that likeable.
But are we supposed to like them?

What is it we're supposed to do here as viewers?

Jackson accusers Wade Robson, left, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed, and James Safechuck.
Jackson accusers Wade Robson, left, Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed, and James Safechuck.

Oprah Winfrey says it's to help us recognise the signs - but most sane parents wouldn't allow their 7-year-old to sleep with a grown man anyway, with or without any signs, surely?

How on earth is this on TV and not in a courtroom? I just don't get why this doco was made other than to destroy a legacy - and give the two men involved some long sought-after attention after Hollywood had chewed them up and spat them out.

Or, because it really is their truth.

As you'd expect, audiences are divided. As for the mothers... as a parent, I found it unbearable to watch them. I found them extremely disturbing.

Fame hungry 'stage Moms' pimping their kids out to what they materialistically thought was a better life. The mothers in this documentary seem unhinged at best.

But this should not be for us to judge, it should not be up to us to play judge and jury in a one-sided four-hour piece of stage managed testimony set to music. And I think that's part of what makes it uncomfortable viewing.

That and all the graphic details.

Jackson is not here to defend himself, as his ardent fans keep reminding us. But watching the documentary paints a very compelling picture of families sucked in to a vortex of lies and manipulation.

I think the key must lie with Macaulay Culkin, Corey Feldman, Brett Barnes - the men who as young boys also shared beds with Michael Jackson and to this day defend him as innocent.

The minute they come out and say the allegations are true then it's a slam dunk.

In the meantime, this doco left me feeling conflicted, confused - and like I needed a shower.

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