Followers of NME on social media have spoken of whether or not they’ll stop listening to Michael Jackson‘s music in the wake of recent controversy surrounding the Leaving Neverland documentary.
Leaving Neverland focuses on testimony by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who both claim that Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were children.
The two-part film divided opinion when it premiered in the UK last week, with fans taking to the streets of London to protest it being broadcast while radio stations around the world have since banned Jackson’s songs. Controversial adverts have also appeared on London buses in defence of Jackson, and there has also been a surge for his music in the charts since the film aired.
In a poll hosted on NME‘s Twitter, 19% of those who voted said that they would never listen to his music again and 32% claimed that they won’t be actively avoiding it. Jackson fans spoke out with 49% of votes saying that they would continue to play his work.
After watching 'Leaving Neverland', will you be listening to Michael Jackson’s music any more?
— NME (@NME) March 11, 2019
Many defended Jackson, arguing against the legitimacy of the documentary.
“Of course I’ll keep listening to the one of the greatest humanitarian musical icons of all time,” wrote one user. “Leaving Neverland is pure fiction. Michael Jackson is innocent.”
Another added that recent controversy was “trial by media” and “insanity”. “Are people going to stop watching Harvey Weinstein produced films?” they asked. “Are radio stations going to stop playing music from actual convicted artists like Chris Brown?”
Some said that they could separate the accusations from his work. “Whatever MJ did or did not do in his private life has nothing to do with the art he created,” said one user. “People also still play the music of Wagner, despite his anti-Semitic views.”
Yes of course! Whatever MJ did or did not in his privete life has nothing to do with the art he created. People also still play the music of Wagner, despite his anti-Semitic views
— Casper Janssen (@casperjanssen) March 11, 2019
Trial by media, its insanity. Are people going to stop watching Harvey Weinstein produced films? Are radio stations going to stop playing music from actual convicted artists like Chris Brown?
— Andrew Hedgman (@andyroyz) March 12, 2019
Meanwhile, others showed solidarity with the accusers and some said that they “never listened to him anyway”.
Never listened to it in the first place.
— Just Another Tau Physicist? (@GargantuanBoots) March 11, 2019
This comes after Mark Ronson spoke of the seismic impact of Michael Jackson’s music potentially being “tarred”.
“I don’t want to say anything until I see the documentary but, yeah, it’s a fucking giant part of music,” Ronson told NME. “It’s perhaps one of the biggest influences, between the work and the production and everything, it’s one of the biggest – it looms largest over modern R&B and soul and pop music than anything else.
“So if that becomes tarred, it’s kind of like in those movies where they’re like the space-the continuum has collapsed.”
Last week, Jackson’s nephew Taj confirmed to NME that he was working on a counter-documentary to dispute the claims made in Leaving Neverland.
This weekend also saw Drake drop a Michael Jackson song from his live set.
Jackson denied any wrongdoing before he died in 2009.