Because of the previous denials of men, some Jackson fans have dismissed their testimonies as lies, motivated by money. Some even refused to watch the documentary. Yet, after the film started airing, there were occasional fans who felt gutted by revelations, with some saying they could not listen to his music the same way – if at all.
"People have already made the decision in one way or another," Deraney said. "I think when a lot of people think of Michael Jackson they already think" pedophiles "regardless of whether or not there is some evidence."
"I think that what follows," added Deraney, "are the future generations".
Many millennials have only a vague knowledge of Jackson's allegations and are shocked even by facts recognized by both sides.
"I'm young enough not to be aware of the allegations about Michael Jackson as they were happening," commented the 31-year-old New York Times columnist, Jamelle Bouie, as he watched the documentary. "And we WANT someone to think that his behavior around and constant contact with the boys was okay."
Some of Jackson's fellow artists have stated that they will not easily influence him and say they can separate the performer from the person.
Jason Derulo recently released the first music and video from a set of boxed EPs that the singer and dancer paid tribute to Jackson. It is ready to be released in its entirety on June 25, the tenth anniversary of Jackson's death.
"Michael was the only reason why I started singing and dancing, so this was a way for me to reciprocate," said Derulo, who has not seen "Leaving Neverland," he said at the time. Associated Press. "I started this project for my love for the performer Michael Jackson is and for the influence he has had in my life as the best performer that ever existed.This has nothing to do with the personal life of nobody".
India.Arie says it was right to speak against R. Kelly, who faces new sexual abuse charges after the Lifetime documentary "Surviving R. Kelly" aired more than a decade after being cleared of child pornography allegations. But Jackson's situation is different, said the singer.
"I think it's too late for people to say" mute Michael Jackson ", said Arie to the AP.
"With R. Kelly is the video," he said, referring to a sex tape that allegedly shows the singer's abuse. "With Michael Jackson, there's a lot of speculation, I do not know if it will come this far … Not because we love him more, I think it's a different situation."
Jackson's estate, its most avid fans and his family do not have this ambiguity in their points of view. They say that the documentary repeats the accusations discredited by the liars admitted.
Jackson's brothers said they were already at a difficult time managing his memory and inheritance with the death of his father Joseph Jackson last year, when they heard that "Leaving Neverland" was coming.
"This time it's difficult for us because you know Michael, coming on the 10th anniversary of his death and my father died six months ago," Marlon Jackson told AP last week. "So those things are still there, and you will never get rid of them, learn to live with them and now we are dealing with something that is completely different but has no truth.
At least one prominent fan and former devotee says he was forced to reconsider.
"I spent a lifetime loving MJ," wrote the Los Angeles Times music writer Gerrick D. Kennedy after seeing the premiere of the documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.
"About an hour in" Leaving Neverland ", I felt as if my chest had collapsed … It was not long before I accepted that" Leaving Neverland "would have forced me – and probably many others who also feel a deep connection with Jackson's work – to see that none of us really knew him and that maybe we were avoiding the truth. "
The subjects in the documentary do not have strong feelings about people having to give up Jackson's music.
"It's an opportunity to re-evaluate who you want to be your idol," Safechuck told Sundance. "Why can you write a song, does that mean you should be the moral compass of the people? … It's less about breaking down someone and more about the opportunity of those we want to look up."
"There's a lot of other fantastic people to fill that role."
Associated Press Writers Gary Gerard Hamilton and Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.
Follow Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton .