The highly anticipated and controversial HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which focuses on allegations by two men who say Michael Jackson abused them as children, has debuted to mixed reactions on social media.
In the two-part documentary, which premiered Sunday night, Wade Robson, now 36, and James Safechuck, now 40, are interviewed about their experiences with Jackson at the ages of 7 and 10, respectively, and visiting his Neverland Ranch in California. The Jackson estate has called the film “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death,” and are suing the premium cable channel, claiming it will “constitute a breach of a non-disparagement clause” from a previous contract.
Leaving Neverland has spurred intense reactions on social media from those who continue to support the late singer and others who have rallied behind his alleged victims. Read below for a selection of Twitter reactions posted shortly after the documentary’s premiere:
Among Jackson’s defenders was his nephew, Taj Jackson, who responded to a fan, “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.”
Rosie O’Donnell took to Twitter to call the documentary “haunting,” while Amber Tamblyn, a former child actress, wrote, “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 sole purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope.”
Still, many Jackson fans continued to defend the pop star. Responding to those fans, A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay tweeted, “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.”
Many Jackson supporters retweeted a list of supposed facts that “you won’t find Leaving Neverland,” which can be read below. Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed spoke to EW about some of the points addressed in the “fact” sheet, including Robson and Safechuck’s civil suit against the Jackson estate.
Meanwhile, other viewers expressed their shock over the detailed accusations levied against Jackson in the film.
The anti-sexual violence organization RAINN has also been active on Twitter, providing resources for sexual abuse survivors.