What a strange timing, we are in the middle of a pandemic, all preoccupied with our lives and wondering if we are gonna catch this terrible disease, and BBC2 wants us to still care about Michael Jackson? As if 2019 hadn’t taken care of that with Dan Reed’s 2-part documentary ‘Leaving Neverland.’
BBC2 is airing Jacques Peretti ‘s ‘The Real Michael Jackson’ and I was just able to watch half of it via an unidentified source because the BBC player is not working in the US. However, the first 45 minutes of the documentary are not bringing anything new: as usual, we get the interviews from so-called insiders, but this time, it’s not about the victims, it’s about Jackson himself, his life, his career and a lot of talking by people like Don King, Donny Osmond, and Randy Taraborrelli, who wrote Jackson’s biography, or at least one of them.
Everyone who has expressed the slightest interest in Michael Jackson has already heard the story and has seen this same footage of talented young Michael and angry awful father Joseph. The movie brushes the career of the King of Pop till the 26th Grammy Awards, and we see Michael Jackson at the peak of his career holding hands with Brooke Shields and 12-year-old Emmanuel Lewis. What else can you say about the plastic surgery to escape his father’s resemblance, the suspicious friendship with plenty of kids, the giant Neverland playground and the endless search for a lost childhood, we have heard all of this before. What I was able to see ( about half of the documentary) didn’t bring anything new, didn’t reveal anything I had learned before. The Independent even declares we didn’t need another documentary. ‘Leaving Neverland’ had already said it all, in a much more powerful way.
So why another documentary that doesn’t bring anything new to the debate? The strange thing is that Peretti, contrarily to Dan Reed, has spent a lot of time documenting Michael Jackson’s life, in the past 15 years, he has made three films about the pop icon: ‘Michael Jackson: What Really Happened,’ ‘Michael Jackson’s Last Days: What Really Happened,’ and ‘Michael Jackson’s Secret Hollywood,’ so this new one is his fourth. As a fan, he mentions at the beginning of the movie, he didn’t want to accept that Michael Jackson was a child molester: ‘How did we choose to ignore the truth?’ The movie could be Peretti’s own journey from the fan’s point of view to the man who finally opens his eyes to the truth, but it’s not even convincing at this level, or at least from what I was able to see, there is no new insight except a few allusions at Jackson’s twisted nature: he wanted to be sensational, was leaking stories to the press and then was denying them, constantly muddying the water between truth and lies
The funny thing is that ‘The Real Michael Jackson’ was commissioned by the BBC last year and was supposed to be a ‘reappraisal’ of the King of Pop 10 years after his death. Of course, ‘Leaving Neverland’ changed everything, and ‘The Real Michael Jackson’ falls flat with nothing new to say. What a strange idea to rehash this controversy at this moment! Looking at the reactions is even stranger: Michael Jackson’s fans are once again attacking Peretti on social media and they have even hacked his IMDB page (at least it was pure sabotage when I checked it), while the media which have praised ‘Leaving Neverland’ found this new one unnecessary and mediocre. There’s basically nobody out there saying something positive about the movie and the cortege of die-hard fans is basically the most vocal about it. Where are we a year after Leaving Neverland? Sadly, we haven’t progressed at all, his fans’ mentality seems to be preserved in a 1993-Oprah-interview-era, a naïve stage of mind that still sees Neverland’s numerous bedrooms made up for young guests as a caring gesture. Even biographer Taraborrelli doesn’t appear certain of Jackson’s pedophilia despite going through the numerous accusations of child molestations and the settlement for huge sums of money. A new angle to the story could have explored Michael Jackson’s fate in a Weinstein-Epstein era? But the film is not even close to doing that, and the story has become completely irrelevant right now, except for Michael Jackson’s surgical masks.
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