The Simpsons‘ showrunner Al Jean has claimed that Michael Jackson used his cameo on the show in 1991 for a “false purpose”, alleging that Jackson’s guest appearance was “part of what he used to groom boys”.
The long-running animated sitcom pulled the 1991 episode ‘Stark Raving Dad’, which saw Jackson guest star as the one-off character Leon Kompowsky in a speaking role only, from circulation last week.
The decision comes in the wake of the renewed scrutiny which has been placed on the late star following the premiere of the documentary Leaving Neverland, which contains testimony from two men who allege that Jackson sexually abused them as children. Jackson denied any wrongdoing before he died in 2009, and civil suits which were brought against Jackson’s estate following his death were thrown out by a judge in 2017, who ruled the estate could not be held liable for the singer’s behaviour.
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Jean has now spoken about that decision to pull ‘Stark Raving Dad’, which he co-wrote, from syndication. Asked by The Daily Beast if it was a difficult decision to make, Jean said “it wasn’t something that makes me happy” but was a move he agreed with “completely”.
“What saddens me is, if you watch [Leaving Neverland] —which I did, and several of us here did— and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we’d intended it,” Jean said. “It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it’s why I think removing it is appropriate.”
Jean added that he believed that the episode “has a false purpose”, and was asked to elaborate on what he meant by that.
“I think it was part of what he used to groom boys,” Jean then said in reference to the late singer. “I really don’t know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that’s what I think. And that makes me very, very sad.”
In another interview given this week, Simpsons executive producer James L Brooks said that removing the Jackson episode “feels clearly like the only choice to make.”
“The documentary gave evidence of monstrous behaviour,” Brooks told The Wall Street Journal. “I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”