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Has 'Leaving Neverland' Tainted Michael Jackson’s Legacy? Will We Listen To Him The Same Way After Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

Has 'Leaving Neverland' Tainted Michael Jackson’s Legacy? Will We Listen To Him The Same Way After Child Sexual Abuse Allegations

Many of his fans still argue that the documentary only portrayed one side of the story and there was no counternarrative -- with Michael Jackson no more to defend himself.

'Remember the time' when 'Beat It', 'Black Or White' and many other Michael Jackson songs were played on radio stations and people couldn't fathom how incredibly talented he was. Back in the day, Michael Jackson was a phenomenon. A rage across the globe for his immense musical talent and the way he performed could make grown men cry. Sure, the world had witnessed its own Elvis Priestly, Beatles and Freddie Mercury, but what Michael Jackson was able to do was unimaginable to many. 

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As an 80s kid or even 90s for that matter, Michael Jackson was a name that we can always relate to beautiful music, touching lyrics and even unfathomable dance moves. However, is that how he will be remembered in the future? The kids, who are growing up now, will they look up to him as an icon? Or will he be known to the future generations as a pedophile or someone who allegedly abused children?

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With HBO documentary 'Leaving Neverland' completely shifting the narrative around MJ's legacy, one question that will always persist is whether did he do or not. Many of his fans still argue that the documentary only portrayed one side of the story and there was no counternarrative -- with Michael Jackson no more to defend himself. In the documentary, two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, have claimed they were abused by the singer when they were children.

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Although MJ's family has clearly denied all allegations levelled against him, the claims have surely cast a huge cloud over his name. However, the question over the music icon being innocent has clearly divided the internet -- with some suggesting that the victims have every right to come forward if they were abused. While others suggest that the victims came forward, years after his death, just so that they could get their 15 minutes of fame! The truth is something, we will never know!

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Many famous celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Molly Ringwald and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan voiced their support for the Leaving Neverland accusers. Even musicians Sia and Amanda Palmer have supported the two men, although neither mentioned Jackson by name and instead shared messages about believing survivors.

While on the other side, T.I., Juice WRLD, Jason DeRulo and IndiaArie have all issued statements on social media, defending Jackson.

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“Don’t just listen to one side and expect to find truth,” T.I. wrote on Instagram. “Oh that’s right…Dead men can’t speak. So what was the point again? Destroy another strong black historical LEGEND?!?!” The two-part HBO documentary comes on the heels of 'Surviving R. Kelly,' a docuseries that detailed years of allegations of abuse against R. Kelly. 

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Jackson was previously acquitted on child molestation charges in 2005, and with his death in 2009, obviously, he cannot face criminal charges. However, his estate remains a massive business. And the impact of the documentary has also affected his music with Jackson’s posthumous career showing signs of major distress.

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Many radio stations across the world - including in Australia, New Zealand and Canada - have stopped playing Michael Jackson's music. With a career spanning over four decades, MJ sold over 750 million albums worldwide, scored 13 number one singles and won 13 Grammy Awards. However, stats alone cannot enough to establish a legacy. Michael Jackson's influence will surely live on, however, it will be difficult to commemorate his work.

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But should the celebrity status of a person overpower the mistakes they might have committed? Does it protect abusers? Are celebrities 'untouchable'? Well, in Michael Jackson's case, his legacy has quite clearly been tarnished but his influence and contributions to music will forever be cherished by millions of his fans. 

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