“WE GAVE A PERFORMER CARTE BLANCHE"
To analyze the phenomenon of Michael Jackson properly would mean taking on the laborious task of figuring out how we -- meaning society at large -- ended up with the kind of entertainment industry we have … What l’affaire Jackson does teach us, however, is that the American dream of fame and fortune is a sick institution, with a pathological relationship to the truth.  I was stricken. The force of those two men just talking and talking as if in some ways they were still under a spell ... There were absolutely no boundaries ... You worship me, and I can and will do anything and everything. I remember Wade Robson saying that he used to watch the videos and was so smitten that he started putting Michael Jackson posters up in his room, and soon he would wake up and Michael Jackson was the whole world. And then he met him and that was the whole world ... It wasn’t a given [at the time] that Michael Jackson was guilty of all of the very specific acts that it appears he is guilty of, but it was all so possible all of the time, wasn’t it?  There was no way that Michael Jackson would have gotten away with all this for so many years without enablers. Very sophisticated, very smart enablers who just looked the other way because of who he was -- a celebrity.  We took too many liberties with Michael Jackson … We gave a performer carte blanche to live however he wanted because the music was more important to us than the reports of what might’ve been going on behind the scenes. No one deserves that much power … As the 10th anniversary of Jackson’s death approaches, it’s OK to revisit the memory of Jackson as we thought he was. Let’s also speak of all the aspects of his life we categorically refused to believe, and pledge to never again choose the love of fame over the well-being of a child. 
 Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic
 Margo Jefferson, The Cut interview
 Maureen Orth, The Ringer interview
 Craig Jenkins, Vulture
"HE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING"
Although Jackson’s defenders have long argued that he was simply too guileless and childlike to know that his behavior with children would be seen as inappropriate, Leaving Neverland makes an extremely powerful argument that this was not the case; he knew exactly what he was doing, and he spent years perfecting his methodology to be able to do it well.  Michael Jackson never got to have a childhood, we told ourselves, because we’d taken it from him … It’s only when you are faced with the reality of the toxic manipulation and control allegedly wielded by Jackson behind closed doors -- examples of which Leaving Neverland offers no shortage -- that the self-pity starts to curdle into something more monstrous. Michael Jackson may not have had a childhood, or at least not the one he thought he wanted, but that didn’t give him the right to anyone else’s.  The documentary also raises the question: If the brutal treatment Robson and Safechuck say they endured did in fact take place, then did Jackson -- rather than loving children, as he routinely claimed -- actually hate them, too? And is it possible that Michael Jackson’s establishment of his own self-identity involved repeated attempts to obliterate the selfhood of two boys?  Obviously, the topic of Michael Jackson and Blackness is a sociologist’s think piece for the ages. What it is not, however, is a defense for the megastar’s predation. Eye-spying racism should never be the reason we don’t call a predator by his name (see Cosby and Kelly) ... Sometimes when it comes down to it, we have to use common sense. Every fan in the mirror has to ask him or herself: “What do I believe?” Not merely, what do I want to believe?  [Comparing the allegations to a lynching] is a common chorus when black men are faced with evidence and accusations of sexual assault. The strategy is to make a comparison to the history of white Americans hanging black people for crimes they either didn’t commit or that in no way warranted the level of violence these victims faced … But these men aren’t being lynched. They’re being asked to reasonably answer for crimes of which they are accused. The difference is vast, and bringing up lynchings in these cases is profiting off the very real horrors inflicted on black people. All for personal gain. 
 EJ Dickson, Rolling Stone
 Jack Hamilton, Slate
 Niela Orr, BuzzFeed
 Kierna Mayo, Afropunk
 David Dennis Jr., The Undefeated