Toxic Fan Culture: Michael Jackson Fans
I have a post prior to this one about toxic fan culture, but after seeing the intense amount of insanity and denial among hordes of online Michael Jackson fans in the build up to the release of the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” and their backlash against the Oprah-Winfrey hosted program “After Neverland,” I wanted to make a post devoted entirely to this particular fandom, rather than amend my previous post on the subject of insane, irrational, unhinged fans.
Some of the Michael Jackson stans are in denial of facts and of how child sexual abuse victims deal with the abuse as they grow older – all this in spite of the fact the MJ stans run about the internet screaming about ‘facts not lying but people do.’
Below are some links about the Toxic Michael Jackson Fan culture – all of this hideous behavior from Michael Jackson fans is so odd, considering Michael Jackson curated and cultivated a public persona of being sweet, decent, innocent, polite, and lovable – but his fans sure do not follow his lead on any of that.
Many of the defenders of Michael Jackson do not understand abuse recovery dynamics – defenders of Brett Kavanaugh, R. Kelly, and many of the other accused, also display a lot of ignorance of how abuse victims react to abuse, so I’ll link to an article or two about that below as well.
I will amend this post in the future as I come across more articles about the obnoxious behavior of Michael Jackson stans.
by Jack Shepherd
February 2, 2019
“I’m getting horrible email messages from Michael Jackson fans,” Reed said. “Several thousand emails in the past three weeks. Absolutely as disgusting as you could possibly invent.
“And why do people react that way? Why when two men have come forward saying they were sexually abused as a child, why do we want to shame them? Why do we want to shut them down? Why do we want to silence them? Why do we want to threaten them? I don’t understand.”
Reed also said he’s received death threats since the film was announced and believes he’s the target of a coordinated harassment campaign. “Over a week I had about a thousand emails from China and then they stopped about as suddenly as they’d begun, saying vile things to me, making threats,” Reed said. “I know that there’s a level of organization. Some of the email writing is cut and paste because we found a web page that explains to people what to do [to protest].”
The following is absolutely true – how religious groups and fans of celebrities deal with those accused of sexual abuse (church staff, preachers, or celebrities) are disappointingly similar (instead of granting a possibility that the individual perhaps was indeed abused, the supporters rally the troops around the accused singer, actor, priest, or preacher):
by Jessica Heslam
When the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal broke, the pressing question was “how did this happen?”
There were so many signs missed. I got a similar feeling watching the latest, disturbing Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which aired on HBO Sunday and Monday nights.
When the late King of Pop was parading around the world, always with a young boy by his side, it’s shocking to me why no one questioned what was going on. Looking back, and after watching this haunting footage, it’s even more shocking.
Just as the Catholic Church protected pedophile priests, it’s pretty clear that Jackson had a system in place to facilitate his relationships with young boys.
His handlers made sure that Jackson had hotel suites to sexually abuse these young boys that were located far away from their families. There were protocols in place that made sure Jackson had a lot of time alone with these young boys at hotels and Neverland, his ranch north of Los Angeles.
…One of the hardest parts of the documentary is watching the mothers of these boys and how enamored they were by all the attention the mega-star was giving their sons, even allowing their boys to sleep in the same bed as Jackson, a grown man at the top of his career. They were starstruck and in hindsight far too trusting.
Sound familiar? Many survivors of clergy sexual abuse have recalled how happy their parents were that a priest — a star in their eyes — was giving their child so much attention.
Dan Reed is the director of “Leaving Neverland,” and I absolutely agree with his assessment of Michael Jackson fandom – they are cultic (see quotes below).
I think some of the fans treat Jackson as though he’s a deity – Jackson was not a deity, he was a fallible human, like the rest of us – and they should not be wrapping up their identity or purpose in life in a celebrity.
If your life, identity or purpose is that tied up in the memory of a celebrity, your priorities are very much out of kilter.
Few fan armies hold a candle to Michael Jackson devotees — fans who have spent decades defending the star.
Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed described them as “the Islamic State of fandom”.
“One can only compare them to religious fanatics really,” Reed told the New York Times.
Within 20 minutes of the film being announced in January, Reed said his company received endless emails, describing them as a “deluge of hatred”.
Social media posts from fans dismissing the film as a “mockumentary” are liked thousands of times, while other Twitter accounts are actively encouraging and planning attacks on allegations aired in the film.
By Josiah Hesse
Feb 19 2019
Michael Jackson fandom breeds a particular kind of intensity. What has the backlash to the film been like from them?
So let me be clear about one thing: There are tens of millions of Michael Jackson fans out there in the world. People who love Michael’s music and have great memories of dancing to his music at their weddings or bar mitzvah or the last time they saw their mom.
His music is interwoven into the fabric of people’s lives around the world. And a majority of MJ fans are just people who just really like his music.
But there is also this league of fans who are almost like a cult, and they say very nasty things [about the film] on social media.
And their words echo the two-decade long rhetoric of the Jackson family and legal team, which is shaming the victims. It happens often in these cases. It’s what they do very aggressively and relentlessly, and I don’t think you can get away with that in 2019 like you could in the past.
“The cult of celebrity is pernicious and it leads people to go blind and parents to do stupid things,” says Dan Reed, director of a new Michael Jackson documentary.
His film, Leaving Neverland, first made headlines in January, when it was considered so graphic that mental health professionals had to be on hand at a screening.
Showing at Sundance Festival, the four-hour film featured the testimonies of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say they were sexually abused by the singer as young boys in the 1990s.
…But Reed tells the BBC he hopes his film will “make parents think twice about trusting strangers and will make people think twice about idolising a celebrity”.
…The Cult of Celebrity
In light of this film being released, comparisons have been made with the allegations that have faced singer R Kelly.
The singer has been accused of sexually abusing a number of women, with some underage. But for the large part his music has remained popular despite such allegations, which he has denied.
Reed says that the reason people like Jackson and Kelly have not been scrutinised is because “people are dazzled by talent and status, wealth, reputation”.
He adds: “Especially when you’re very young and your idol is an incredible dancer or singer, you translate their talent into goodness, you translate their talent into the type of human being they are.
“You assume that they’re a nice person and unfortunately that is not the case.
“We have to be more sceptical and we have to challenge fame, celebrity and power more than we have in the past.”
by Kevin Fallon
Ahead of a new doc detailing alleged child sex abuse, fans are targeting the filmmakers—and journalists—with conspiracy theories, while showing blind faith in Jackson’s innocence.
A new documentary detailing allegations of sexual abuse has the pop star’s most activist supporters ready to jump on Twitter and YouTube to defend his name.
…But then journalists and critics started to publish their pieces on the documentary and were awakened to the reality that, when it comes to Michael Jackson truthers, maybe there isn’t such a thing as overreacting to this hive.
The first part of Leaving Neverland premieres Sunday night on HBO. The film features two accusers: Wade Robson, known to many as the famous choreographer for Britney Spears and NSYNC and who got his start as a child Michael Jackson impersonator, and James Safechuck, who starred in one of Jackson’s famous Pepsi commercials in the ‘80s.
Robson and Safechuck recount in disturbing detail alleged incidents of masturbation, kissing, oral sex, being forced to caress Jackson’s nipples, bending over for him while he pleasured himself, and being coaxed into painful anal sex. Robson says he was 7 when it started; Safechuck was 10.
More, they chronicle the ways in which Jackson’s celebrity and global adoration allowed the singer to brainwash the boys into keeping it a secret, their families into trusting him alone with their sons, and his reputation to outlast decades of pedophilia rumors.
That there are a large number of Jackson fans who maintain his innocence and have showed up for decades in support of their hero—and continue to do so after his death—is not a surprise. Most of us know that, and maybe even understand it, to a point: Jackson was never found guilty of child sexual abuse. When accusations were brought against him in 1993, he settled out of court. In a 2005 trial stemming from separate charges, he was acquitted.
….Jackson supporters seize on those points and other evidence [e.g., Robson had previously testified that Jackson had not abused him] to argue that not only are Safechuck and Robson lying and only out for money, but that all accusations are false. They have flooded social media, aggressively spamming anyone who writes or tweets about Leaving Neverland with hundreds of angry, often hysterical messages.
…These fans are always in firing mode, armed and ready with their artillery of rebuttals to any allegation. His close friendship with young boys is excused as the eccentricities of a real-life Peter Pan, whose lost childhood found him more comfortable in the company of those much younger.
Any accusers must be motivated by money, a notion emboldened by the fact that the family of the first Jackson accuser, Jordan Chandler, settled out of court for an amount reported to be over $20 million.
And besides, Jackson was abused himself as a child, and then prematurely sexualized. (It’s here, perhaps, that empathy conflates with excuse.)
Like those who say that no accuser could be believed, these defenses operate under the same blind assumption that Jackson could never molest or rape. They dismiss the reality that the parents of a victim of sexual abuse may have settled out of court once the reality of facing off against the most famous and influential person in the world presented itself.
They fail to rationalize why anyone would subject themselves to the onslaught of attacks and threats to their safety that Safechuck and Robson have weathered after coming forward.
But none of that matters when it comes to their vociferous defense of Michael Jackson.
…The truthers weaponize these lyrics often. I know because I’ve been hit by it, machine gun-style, by thousands of fans unhappy that I, like many other journalists, have been reporting on Leaving Neverland.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd seemed particularly struck by the sheer volume with which Jackson fans would pummel a journalist’s Twitter mentions—commenting on or replying to a tweet—after writing about the documentary, or Robson and Safechuck’s accusations.
“MJ truthers are blowing up my mentions for pointing out the obvious: Michael Jackson sexually abused kids for years. Dan Reed, who directed the docu, is also awash in fan outrage. He told me MJ’s victims became numb to this sort of thing long ago,” she wrote, posting screenshots of the most histrionic examples.
…Writers from The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, and several other media organizations also confirmed that their social media accounts were swarmed by truthers after publishing articles about the documentary. Members of The Daily Beast staff who shared our initial Leaving Neverland report also were flooded with messages.
Jackson fans have always been impressive in their ability and willingness to mobilize, but the rise of social media has only made it easier to spread their message.
…There are pieces—long, exhaustive pieces—that read like manifestos all over the internet, many of them curated on leavingneverlandfacts .com, which seems to be a bit of a hub for the truthers.
…The idea behind both of these pieces, and so many other fan-made YouTube videos and Twitter threads like them, is that there is a trove of evidence connecting every Jackson accuser and their stories to money-grubbing motives, all enabled by complicit, racist journalists eager to take down Jackson and paint him as a monster.
…Of course, none of this information—nor any of these theories, pieces of evidence, or attacks of character—is new to Reed, Safechuck, Robson, or HBO, which is standing behind the documentary in the face of a massive $100 million lawsuit, targeted fan campaign, and outspoken displeasure from the Jackson family. (Though just to be sure, these truthers have been meticulous in tagging their social media handles on every tweet and attack they send.)
On the topic of “facts,” the word that seems to come up most often in all of this, the fact is that the documentary premieres on Sunday night and not one of these people have seen it.
Robson and Safechuck address many of the criticisms in the documentary. Not the wild theories and conspiracies, but why they kept their accusations secret for so long, why they decided to come forward now, and what they hope to get from doing it. (Money is not the answer.)
And as for why he didn’t include a statement from the Jackson estate in the documentary, Reed’s answer, which is certainly open for debate, was given to Oprah Winfrey: “What is the journalistic value of interviewing someone saying, ‘Michael was a really nice guy. He never did anything to a child.’ And that person has a gigantic vested interest, a financial interest, in smearing these two young men?”
These truthers, of course, have no financial interest. So what is it, then?
Read the rest of that Daily Beast article here.
by Alex Stedman
“Leaving Neverland,” a new documentary focused on the child sexual abuse allegations againstMichael Jackson, has already stirred some controversy at the Sundance Film Festival, and now that backlash has hit its IMDb page.
On Friday afternoon at about 1:20 p.m. PT, the IMDb page for the documentary read “Liar, Liar 2: The Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck Story.” Robson and Safechuck are two Jackson accusers who appear in the documentary. It was fixed by about 2:05 p.m. PT.
It would appear that angry Jackson fans vandalized the page. Those with a registered IMDb account are able to make edits on films’ pages, similar to Wikipedia. IMDb did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
At Sundance, the documentary had been generating controversy and even spawned a small protest by Jackson fans outside the Egyptian Theatre, where it had its world premiere on Friday. The police ended up outnumbering the protesters, however.
Jackson’s fans who are critical of the documentary have been targeting IMDb, as well as other companies, for sponsoring Sundance.
by El Hunt
Taking their name from the Eminem song, stans mostly indulge in harmless fun, turning their love of an artist into something tribal and communal, like supporting a football team. But when super-fans turn nasty, especially when armed with the anonymity of a keyboard, things can quickly turn toxic. El Hunt investigates.
…And most of the time, stanning is harmless. It’s old-fashioned fandom for the internet age.
But often, stanning manifests as a kind of blind, unquestioning devotion – the kind of thing that leads the BTS Army to talk about their idols like they’re gods on earth who can’t be criticised.
Ask Capital FM’s Roman Kemp, who was reported to OFCOM for race discrimination for calling the South Korean sensations’s music ‘noise’. Few journalists here at NME or elsewhere have escaped a stan pile-on; these days, it’s an occupational hazard.
At its worst, it can lead to threatening behaviour, mob-handed bullying and it can even turn on the object of affection.
…In some circumstances, stans go to extreme lengths to defend their favourite artists from any form of criticism whatsoever, even when they face incredibly serious allegations.
In response to Leaving Neverland, a new documentary about Michael Jackson which outlines disturbing allegations of child sex abuse, and which airs on Channel 4 tonight, the backlash from superfans is deafeningly loud.
Some stans argue that the whole conversation is a disgrace since Jackson is dead and unable to defend himself, ignoring his alleged victims’ right to justice, along with the plain fact that Jackson defended himself plenty during his lifetime.
Others are taking shots at the documentary’s director Dan Reed, accusing him of profiting off somebody they say is an innocent man and questioning his motives.
Many are also attempting to smear the two men who have accused Jackson. Bizarrely, many of them are doing this by referencing the case of Jussie Smollett (who was arrested for staging his own assault) as if the actions of one person can invalidate the words and experiences of genuine survivors.
Defending an artist from all criticism, at whatever cost isn’t fandom. It’s a dangerous path to go down.
While it is true that people are innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, it is also an unavoidable fact that systematic failures in the justice system can make securing a conviction against violent and abusive men incredibly difficult, and that it is important to believe and support survivors when they are brave enough to speak out against powerful figures in music.
This particular logic also fails to stand up when you consider the stans still protesting the innocence of Chris Brown and 6ix9ine, who have been found guilty of various crimes by a court.
by Jordan Basset
…Two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, claim Michael Jackson sexually abused them over a number of years. A new documentary, Leaving Neverland, from veteran filmmaker Dan Reed, explores those claims over four hours…
Have you received threats from Michael Jackson fans?
[Director Dan Reed replies]: “I’ve received all sorts of very unpleasant emails and threats, which I don’t take seriously. There are people who feel entitled to write utter filth to a complete stranger who is examining claims of child sexual abuse – and very credible ones at that.
I wonder what sort of people they are. They’re in a very special sub-group, I think, of the Michael Jackson fandom. It’s certainly not the whole fandom. Many of them are good, honest, decent people who would never think of sending [a message] like that.
What would you say to someone who’s watching this, poised at their laptop to send you an abusive message?
“I’d say watch the film, and if you really feel like sending me some filth afterwards – go ahead.”
March 5, 2019
by Nick Reilly
“I know I will be on the right side of history and I’d rather fight to be on this side of history to secure Michael’s legacy,” one superfan tells Nick Reilly
Some of Michael Jackson‘s biggest supporters have led a protest outside Channel 4’s London HQ, ahead of Leaving Neverland‘s premiere this evening.
The documentary will air over two consecutive nights and features extensive testimonies from James Safechuck and Wade Robson – who both allege that they were abused by the late pop icon as children.
…Here, some of his biggest supporters tell NME why – in spite of overwhelming evidence and compelling stories from alleged victims – they believe that the documentary is a unfair portrayal of Jackson’s personal life.
…Thomas Avery – a Michael Jackson fan of 30 years who saw him on the Bad, Dangerous and History world tours.
What’s your main criticism of Leaving Neverland?
“I just don’t think it’s fair and it’s not justified. It’s a one sided story. I’m trying really hard to not call it a documentary, because it’s not an evidence based programme that looks at all sides and research.”
What about the claims of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say that Jackson threatened them into testifying in his defence?
“In terms of threatening Wade and James, I don’t know – we’re looking at what two people have said. But look at fans, look at research. Go online and look at what these two men have said. One is an actor and one has changed his story four times.”
Opening up about what he really thinks of Michael in an interview with Lad Bible,Louis said: “Jimmy Savile was never found guilty of anything in a court of law, but I think it’s widely accepted – I certainly accept – that he was a serial predator and a sex offender.
“I believe that Michael Jackson was a paedophile.
“He was never found guilty in a court of law, so someone would come back to me and say ‘Well he’s innocent until proven guilty’ – to which I would say ‘Well, look, do some research and I think you’ll find that the evidence is compelling’.”
Results Of The Leaving Neverland Documentary, Documentary Ratings
The extreme Michael Jackson fans are delusional and impervious to facts, which is strange, considering they run about yelling about facts quite a bit.
Some of the Michael Jackson fans I’ve come across online are insisting that the HBO documentary was a “flop,” even though many news reports have said it was a ratings smash and was HBO’s third highest rated documentary ever.
by Denise Petski
March 6, 2019
HBO’s controversial Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland has proved to be a solid ratings draw for the premium cable network.
The docu, which tells the story of two boys, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, now in their 30s, who say they were sexually abused by Jackson when they were children, drew a 0.4 rating and 1.3 million viewers for Part 1, which aired Sunday night, according to Live+ same day Nielsen.
That made it the third most-watched documentary in the last decade for HBO, excluding music concert films, behind Going Clear and the Prison of Belief, and Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
Not only that, but the “Leaving Neverland” documentary prompted radio stations in Canada and New Zealand to banning Michael Jackson songs from their playlists:
March 6, 2019
By Brittany Vonow
Michael Jackson’s songs canned by radio stations around the world after Leaving Neverland documentary child sex abuse claims
…Broadcasters are now moving to act amid pressure from listeners who have watched the documentary that has torn apart the pop icon’s already questionable legacy.
In New Zealand, two radio stations that broadcast to over half of the population have now removed his music.
…Canadian radio stations have also followed suit.
Media company Cogeco stripped his songs from the playlists of all 23 of its Quebec stations, including its three major Montreal broadcasters CKOI, Rythme and The Beat.
Amsterdam-based Dutch radio station NHRadio and Norway’s NRK have also dropped his music.
The BBC was reported by the Times to have quietly dropped his tunes from its Radio 2 playlists, though a spokesperson denied there was an outright “ban” on his music.
It comes after the release of the controversial two-part film, made by British filmmaker Dan Reed, that contains interviews with two former childhood fans of the Thriller singer who claim they were abused by him when they were children in his enormous Nevada mansion dubbed Neverland.
by Charlotte Krol
March 6, 2019
A number of radio stations across the world have dropped Michael Jacksonsongs from their playlists.
The news comes in the wake of the US broadcast of Leaving Neverland, in which revived sexual abuse allegations are made against the late singer.
According to CNN, multiple major radio stations in New Zealand have stopped airing Jackson’s music including commercial broadcaster MediaWorks. Meanwhile, CBC reports that in Canada three major Montreal-based radio stations have pulled Jackson off air.
One raged: ‘To think I was a big fan. He was a crafty manipulative paedophile’
A STRING of Michael Jackson fans have said they now believe the singer WAS a paedophile after watching Channel 4’s hard-hitting documentary Leaving Neverland.
One tweeted: “Just watched. I’m sick to my stomach ! To think I was a big Michael Jackson fan. He was a crafty manipulative paedophile ROT IN HELL .”
Another said: “I watched part 1 of Leaving Neverland and it was so terribly hard to watch.
“I was a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s for years but after that I just can’t anymore. I feel so empty and sad after watching. So so hard to watch and listen to.”
A third wrote: “OMG I was a Michael Jackson fan until now listen to that 2 men my god my heart go out to them boy having gone though that hell I am so sorry.”
Viewers reported feeling “literally sick” as James Safechuck and Wade Robson made a string of gruesome claims about the late King of Pop in the film.
March 1, 2019
By Jamie Lee Curtis Taete
…But now, he [Anthony King, one time Michael Jackson super fan] says, he’s finished [with being a Michael Jackson fan or promoting Michael Jackson]. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s over,” he told me in a phone interview. “I’ve removed Michael Jackson’s name [from] my Twitter bios, my Instagram, and I’m working on literally doing a Pharaoh Akhenaten—they removed the guy’s name from ancient Egypt, every statue, and I’m doing it.”
The change came about as the result of Leaving Neverland, the upcoming HBO/Channel 4 documentary focusing on accusations of sexual misconduct against Jackson by Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who knew the singer when they were children. Jackson’s estate denies the allegations and issuing HBO for $100 million.
The film’s impending release prompted King to post a series of tweets in which he said that, regardless of whether or not Jackson ever molested any children, everyone should be able to agree that it’s unacceptable for an adult to share a bed with a child in the way the singer allegedly did. He also wrote that it’s wrong to attack “victims and alleged victims of child abuse.”
The tweets were not well received.
In the days since posting, King has been sent thousands of messages from Jackson fans. Most just tweeted the reasons they believe Jackson is innocent. But some went further. Several people implied that King was projecting his own pedophilic sexual fantasies on to Jackson.
Others called him “inhuman” and “scum” and “a dumbass bitch.”
One guy commented on his Facebook, telling him that he’d just burned his book. Some told him they hoped he would one day be falsely accusedof child abuse, or have his own children be sexually abused. “U are so effin lucky u don’t live closer to me,” wrote one fan in a Facebook message. “I swear to almighty God up above I wud tear you from limb to limb” (sic).
This backlash, coupled with the new attention on the accusations against Jackson, made King decide to completely sever ties with the singer and his music.
He said he’ll be canceling all of his upcoming Michael Jackson dance classes, and doesn’t plan to start any new Jackson-related projects. “This is my whole life and income,” he said. “I just feel like it is the right thing… When the dust settles, I wanna be on the right side.”
..It began to feel like, in spite of all of their talk about evidence, the fans were acting more out of loyalty to Jackson than an interest in the truth.
I asked O’Kane [who is a Michael Jackson fan] if there’s anything that could change his mind about the allegations against Jackson. “What if, similar to the Bill Cosby and R. Kelly stories, this starts a tidal wave of accusations, and more and more people come out and accuse Michael of similar things?” I said. “Can you see any scenario in which you might change your mind?”
“There’s no scenario that would make me change my mind,” he replied. “I would be very surprised if anyone does come forward with legitimate claims, but I think it would be very, very difficult for me to be convinced at this stage.”
This post may be edited in the future as I come across any new, related material