Despite the threat of legal action from the Michael Jackson Estate, HBO went ahead with their plans to premiere Leaving Neverland last weekend. The two-part documentary tells the story of Michael Jackson’s alleged relationships with two underage boys, James Safechuck and Wade Robson.
Although sexual misconduct allegations followed the King of Pop for many decades, the harrowing and graphic accounts detailed in the film make for an especially damning watch, one that stays with viewers on a level the long-running rumors perhaps never did. The fact that Leaving Neverland debuted as R. Kelly’s disturbing past has been brought back into the spotlight only seems to have made the accusations against Jackson that much harder to stomach.
As with Kelly, the late “Thriller” star still has plenty of support in his corner of the ring, however. One of those is veteran rapper T.I., who recently took to Instagram to blast Leaving Neverland. In his criticism, T.I. accused the HBO project of “destroying” black culture. The 38-year-old MC also slammed the racial double standard when it comes to punishing celebrity pedophiles in America.
“Dead men can’t speak. So what was the point again?” T.I. wrote on Instagram on Wednesday. “Destroy another strong black historical LEGEND?!?! It’s several examples of pedophilia in American History… if y’all pulling up all our old shit… we gotta examine ELVIS PRESLEY, HUGH HEPHNER [sic], and a whole slew of others guilty of the same if not more!!!”
“BUT WHY US all the time?”, he continued, “there’s an agenda to destroy OUR CULTURE.” His Instagram post also contained a snippet of a 1999 interview between Jackson and Piers Morgan in which the pop singer fervently denied any and all abuse allegations.
In a second Instagram post, T.I. questioned why Jackson spending time with children automatically raised concern, rather than, say, admiration. He quoted a tweet that read, “People always say ‘why did he spend so much time with children’ as though the idea that he didn’t want to have sex with them is incomprehensible. It’s such a slap in the face to the countless men who work with or for children and child welfare with their well being at heart.” T.I.’s conclusion: “These are assaults against OUR CULTURE!!! Make no mistake of it!!!”
T.I. likely has a point about the double standard, and there’s no debate that the criminal justice system (like many other archaic, long-standing American institutions) is structured in such a way that it works against black communities. Still, it’s difficult to see how the rapper, who has children of his own and has prided himself on his activism, can turn a blind eye to Jackson’s transgressions.
Check out the Instagram posts in question below.
Revisit the trailer for Leaving Neverland below.