“The flames give a quiet command,” Post pop music critic Chris Richards writes of the bonfire consuming Michael Jackson memorabilia at the end of “Leaving Neverland,” a shattering HBO documentary about the years the superstar allegedly spent abusing choreographer Wade Robson and former child star James Safechuck starting when they were children. “Go gather up whatever you have and throw it in. You certainly have something. He’s Michael Jackson. Now let’s be done with him. And if you give ‘Leaving Neverland’ your full attention, you’ll want to be done with him.” Hank Stuever, The Post’s television critic, concluded that“with Robson and Safechuck’s words and descriptions still rattling around in my head, I can easily envision a world with 95 percent less ‘Smooth Criminal’ in it. I’ve heard enough Michael Jackson to last the rest of my years. Maybe you have, too.”
Are you going to still listen to Michael Jackson’s music now? Happily (I guess), this is not a question that I’ll have to answer, as I was never a Jackson fan. We’ve talked many times in the past about the importance of separating the art from the artist, but also the difficulty of doing the same. Woody Allen made it easy to quit watching his movies after his creepy Soon-Yi affair became public. Why? He stopped making good movies. Still, even when I go back and watch his old good ones, I can’t get out of my head what he did. It took all the joy out of Manhattan for me. This wasn’t so much a moral decision as it was one of involuntary disgust.
About Jackson, what are the rest of you going to do? Keep listening to him? Swear off of him? Not sure? Whatever your choice, please explain your reasoning.
Here’s the trailer for the HBO documentary, by the way. I don’t have cable, so I haven’t yet seen it: