The director of Leaving Neverland, the documentary that chronicled two accusers’ sexual abuse claims against Michael Jackson, is criticizing a planned biopic about the late singer.
In a guest column for The Guardian published Sunday (Feb. 5), Dan Reed criticized the decision to release a biopic about the music icon, questioning why “no one is talking about ‘canceling’ this movie, which will glorify a man who raped children.”
“It seems that the press, his fans and the vast older demographic who grew up loving Jackson are willing to set aside his unhealthy relationship with children and just go along with the music,” Reed wrote.
He went on to directly address the filmmaking team, which includes director Antoine Fuqua, writer John Logan, as well as producers Graham King, John Branca and John McClain, the latter of whom are co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate. Reed challenged whether the film would be able to represent alleged moments of abuse.
“How will you represent the moment when Jackson, a grown man in his 30s, takes a child by the hand and leads him into that bedroom?” the Emmy-winning Leaving Neverland helmer asked. “How will you depict what happens next?”
He adds that the film “sidestepping the question of Jackson’s predilection for sleeping with young boys” is broadcasting a specific message to survivors of child sexual abuse. “That message is: if a [pedophile] is rich and popular enough, society will forgive him,” he said.
The biopic about the Grammy-winning, record-setting artist was announced last week and will address all aspects of Jackson’s life, according to Lionsgate, though it remains unclear how the film will tackle the various controversies around the late musician.
“For me, there is no artist with the power, the charisma, and the sheer musical genius of Michael Jackson,” Fuqua said in a statement. “I was influenced to make music videos by watching his work — the first Black artist to play in heavy rotation on MTV. His music and those images are part of my worldview, and the chance to tell his story on the screen alongside his music was irresistible.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to the Jackson estate and Fuqua for comment.
Reed said making Leaving Neverland, which features Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, “was not just the opportunity to expose Jackson by having his victims speak on camera for the first time. Here was an opportunity to bring to the widest possible audience an insight into how children fall victim to any sexual abuser, the psychology of the predator and, above all, the grooming process.”
This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.