Despite the disturbing revelations in Leaving Neverland, the music industry apparently just isn’t quite ready to let go of Michael Jackson and his music. As a wide-ranging informal survey of over three dozen professionals and artists reveals, many aren’t planning to speak out -- and plenty aren’t even willing to watch the documentary.
“It used to be about surviving a few news cycles,” says Jeff Biederman, partner/music group co-chair at law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips, who hasn’t seen the film. “Now with social media, everyone is a newspaper, and the potential effect on an artist is exponentially greater. Hardcore fans won’t care. With the undecideds, it’s always going to be on your mind. But as a parent, it’s very hard to crank Thriller and not think about those children being abused.”
Thus far, the overwhelming reaction from the industry is “a mix of skepticism, disbelief and outright anger,” in the words of one partner in an urban culture-focused communications firm who watched both parts of the film and found Jackson’s now-adult accusers, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, believable. “Most are refusing to watch the film,” the partner continues, “because, I suspect, they’re afraid to face the possibility that Jackson was a pedophile. But judging from the public outcry against the accusers, I can’t see a massive movement to cancel Jackson taking place anytime soon.”