The upcoming Michael Jackson biopic has been met with mixed reactions, but one voice is particularly adamant in its opposition. Dan Reed, the director of the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland, which accused the King of Pop of child sexual abuse, has penned an op-ed in the Guardian condemning the movie. In it, Reed argues that the film “will glorify a man who raped children” and that the public’s willingness to “set aside his unhealthy relationship with children” is indicative of a society that is willing to overlook the allegations.
The biopic, entitled Michael, will be directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Graham King, who previously brought Bohemian Rhapsody to the big screen. Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan will pen the script, which is likely to avoid the allegations of child sexual abuse due to the film’s authorized nature. Reed’s op-ed is a reminder of the allegations, however, and he questions how the film can ignore them. He writes, “Even if you do not believe a word of what his many accusers have said; even if you are not concerned by the police investigations and the massive payouts to halt legal proceedings, how do you explain the completely uncontested fact that for years Jackson spent innumerable nights alone in bed with young boys? What was he doing with them, alone in his Neverland bedroom, with alarm bells in the corridor? That cannot be acceptable by any measure.”
Reed’s documentary, Leaving Neverland, focused on Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two former child performers who described in detail the way Jackson allegedly groomed and sexually abused them while they were children. He expresses his concern that by avoiding these allegations, the biopic is sending a message to millions of survivors of child sexual abuse.
The biopic is set to star Jackson’s nephew and Jermaine’s son Jaafar Jackson, and is scheduled for release in 2021. Whether or not the film will address the allegations of child sexual abuse remains to be seen, but Dan Reed’s op-ed is a reminder of the seriousness of the accusations and the importance of considering them in the context of the biopic.