The headline screamed: ‘BBC Radio 2 stops playing Michael Jackson songs ahead of Leaving Neverland claims about child abuse’.
Take note this decision has been made prior to the broadcast of the documentary. Why and how does one make a decision such as this without seeing the evidence first?
The second headline to grab my attention was this one from the Daily Mail: ‘BBC Radio 2 drops Michael Jackson songs from the airwaves after new string of child sex abuse claims against the one-time King of Pop’. How are these allegations ‘New’? We have been hearing these allegations for over 20 years. Take note that the alleged ‘New’ allegations have come from the same people who made these allegations over 20 years ago and had them thrown out of court in 1993/1994. So the headlines are just so deceiving. There is nothing ‘New’ about them.
Now here is my disclaimer: As a person who was sexually abused as a child and sexually assaulted as a teenager by grown men I understand sexual abuse and how it affects you mentally into your adult life. So I do not hold brief for Michael Jackson nor is it my business to defend him. Sexual abuse of children is wrong no matter who does it and that person must deal with whatever consequences follow.
Now that I have made my position clear on where I stand on paedophilia I will make the following two points about Michael Jackson’s case and the movie ‘Leaving Neverland’.
First the man is dead; he can no longer defend his legacy. I remember lots of sexual abuse came to light when Jimmy Saville died. However in this case we have to note that these same accusers did so when Michael was alive and failed to win their cases. Bringing their stories back up after he has died and unable to defend himself raises far more questions than it provides answers.
Secondly, why would BBC 2 and other radio stations say they would drop Michael Jackson’s music? First of all the man’s music changed the face of pop music forever. There are very few pop songs today that have not in one way or another been influenced by Michael Jackson’s music. What is the hurry to drop Michael Jackson’s music and in some cases even before seeing the documentary? I have my reasons which revolve around racism, erasing black people from history and so on but I will not impose them. I will simply say that for anyone reading this piece you choose to answer it for yourself in good conscience.
Whilst you think about that I would like you to think about John Lasseter, the former Chief Creative officer of Walt Disney Animation Studio who also oversaw lots of Pixar animation projects and is now the head of Sundance Studios. He has directed and produced numerous animated films including Toy Story, Finding Dory and Frozen to name a few. His credits are so many that to say because of his sexual ‘misdeeds’ (as refers to them) the films he produced should be removed from the animated body of films would be absurd because one would be left poorer for it.
If anyone were to decide to do the same with Weinstein produced films such as ‘Shakespeare in Love’, ‘Gangs of New York’, Pulp Fiction, the Crying Game and countless more, one would also be left poorer given the number of films we would have to lose.
Why then most we tolerate or accept or defend the removal of Michael Jackson’s music from the body of music produced. We would be left poorer for it; we would lose an amazing legacy and talent in music.
The man is dead so he cannot speak and I certainly cannot speak for him but one thing I am sure of is that we would have to separate what he allegedly did from his music. We must, whatever we do defend the legacy of the music that Michael Jackson provided us with. To do anything else is to betray ourselves.
By Nana Ofori-Atta Oguntola
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