Who stands by Michael Jackson? Superstar Jackson had been resting in peace for around a decade before HBO aired the documentary, Leaving Neverland. Suspicion and charges of child molestation had swirled around the singer for years, but he was finally put on trial in 2005 and acquitted of all charges. He eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
Two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, described the sexual assault that they allegedly experienced at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch when they were just boys. The reaction to their claims was fierce. Some radio stations decided to stop playing his hits like “Thriller,” while others stood by the musical icon.
There were his obvious supporters like longtime friend Corey Feldman, his daughter, Paris Jackson and his brother Jermaine Jackson. But then there were the unexpected like Barbra Streisand and Kanye West. Who else stood behind the King of Pop? Read on for the list of stars who defend Michael Jackson.
Feldman and Jackson have been friends since Feldman was a child. Given that his pal has been accused of abusing young boys, his words carried and still do carry a lot of weight. After the documentary aired on Netflix, Feldman’s support did not wane. The Goonies star took to Twitter and said, "Never once swore in my presence, never touched me inappropriately, and never ever suggested we should be lovers in any way!" But Feldman did say, when speaking to Page Six, “If God forbid these things were true, then there is a completely different Michael than I knew. I guess anything in the world of pedophilia is possible. All I can say is my heart goes out to both of them — and if for any reason the things are proven true, I would be in full support of them." After watching Leaving Neverland, Feldman took to Twitter to say, “OK, I watched it all I Know is what I experienced, & yes every experience was the same … right up 2 the sex part! That is where it becomes La La Land, instead of Neverland 4 me. We never spoke about sex other than a few warnings about how sex was scary, and dangerous.” He continued with a second tweet, “However I do take issue with the fact that this whole thing is 1 sided w no chance of a defense from a dead man, and no evidence other than the word of 2 men who as adults defended him in court! But as we will never really know, I only have my memories and thank God 4 me, my memories of MJ were mostly fond, aside from R 1 & only fight because he incorrectly feared I would turn on him and make up lies. I never did. I never would. I pray those boys can sleep w that same clarity of consciousness! Let God b thy judge!”
Macauley Culkin and Jackson became friends when the singer reached out to the Home Alone star due to both of them finding fame at a young age. “I mean, at the end of the day, it’s almost easy to try to say it was like weird or whatever, but it wasn’t, because it made sense,” Culkin was quoted by Us Weekly on his camaraderie with Jackson. “At the end of the day, we were friends.” The Richie Rich star doesn’t like it when people challenge his kinship with Jackson, as he never experienced inappropriate sexual behavior as some have claimed about the singer. “Nobody else in my Catholic school even had this much of an idea of what I was going through, and he was the kind of person who’d been through the exact same frickin’ thing and wanted to make sure I wasn’t alone.” As a witness for Jackson at his child molestation trial, Culkin took to the stand and firmly stated, “I’ve never seen him do anything improper with anybody.”
The controversial Fox News reporter has made his reputation stoking flames over the decades, and James Safechuck and Wade Robson bore the brunt of Geraldo Rivera and his Twitter-based attack. “Since #MeToo, purported victims have been given extraordinary credibility. That’s a good thing. Still, when allegations are made by those -like accusers of #MichaelJackson- who have strongly testified opposite is true -& who've a strong profit motive to lie -- disbelief can't be suspended."
West came to the defense of the music legend and urged the public to maintain their love for Jackson’s iconic hits because accusations are nothing new against Jackson. "They just gon' pull up full documentaries on 'em and then they gon' come with the Michael documentary. We can enjoy all they music all we want. I thought I wasn't gonna go there today but... because if we going to tear down one artist, let's go ahead and take the da Vincis outta the Louvre while we're at it, let's take down all the art," he was quoted in XXL magazine.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon bandleader used Twitter to send people to a Forbes article that broke down all the documentary allegations. Questlove defended MJ by Tweeting, “That’s All.”
Someone who hasn’t seen the documentary and doesn’t plan to is singer Ne-Yo. He believes that it is all a character assassination, and was quoted saying that he beileves that the scandal surrounding Jackson should not influence people’s loving of his music. He started off the tribute concert for Jackson by saying, “It’s not about the controversy,” NeYo said in Us Weekly. “It’s not about the trial. It’s not about his death. It’s about celebrating his life. It’s about celebrating his music.”
Singer Stephanie Mills took to Instagram in the days following the doc’s premiere and stated, “My sweet Michael Jackson was a kind compassionate loving person never said an unkind thing about anyone. Leave him alone! This documentary is about nothing but money. The man is dead let him rest. I love Michael. Ms. Winfrey why, why, would you continue to defame Mr. Jackson’s name.”
Former child star and longtime friend of Jackson, Emmanuel Lewis also took to Twitter to defend his late friend. The Webster star didn’t actually say anything but instead changed his profile pic to one of him being held by Jackson when he was a little boy, with just a few hashtags, “#NewProfilePic #TavernOnTheGreen #TheReal_ELewis #Jackson5#Jacksons #Prankster #GreatTimes #Watergunfights #6Partharmony #Comedians #VictoryTour #TheGreatestShowOnEarth #TheGoat.”
The former CNN host and current UK host for Good Morning Britain wasn’t having it when it came to Leaving Neverland. Piers Morgan took to Twitter to state, “Interesting to see so many journalists on here accept everything in #LeavingNeverland is true, without applying any questioning eye. The 2 accusers have changed their story multiple times & are suing Jackson’s estate for 100s of millions. At least be challenging, surely?”
Jackson’s daughter, Paris Jackson, didn’t exactly defend her father. She simply wanted everyone to calm down after Leaving Neverland aired. She started by tweeting, "Y'all take my life more seriously than I do. Calm yo titties." Jackson’s daughter tweeted again, “I didn’t mean to offend by expressing that titties should be calm, I know injustices are frustrating and it’s easy to get worked up. But reacting with a calm mind usually is more logical than acting out of rage and also.... it feels better to mellow out.”
‘90s singer and Backstreet Boy brother Aaron Carter added his two cents on Twitter as well. “If you talk bad to me about Michael Jackson, I’ll literally punch you in your face. I’m just letting Wade and this other kid talk I do have something to say though. Why not do it when he was alive?” said Carter in reference to Wade Robson and James Safechuck’s testimony. “Why not do it when he was being accused of all of these molestation charges. Why not do it then and actually indict a perpetrator?” He then collected his thoughts about the documentary and once again took to the public stage to comment, appearing to change his tune. On the show Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars Family Edition he stated (as quoted in NME), “Michael was a really good guy, as far as I know, a really good guy. He never did anything that was inappropriate … except for one time. There was one thing that he did that was a little bit inappropriate. My own personal experience with him was gentle and beautiful and loving and embracing.”
Lionel Richie’s daughter Nicole Richie grew up around Jackson. Her father, Lionel, and the late superstar were pals. She told Access Hollywood after the doc premiered that “a group of us would all sleep in the same room. It was like, absolutely nothing more than just an adult kind of wanting to be a kid again. Absolutely nothing went on."
Jackson’s brother and fellow member of the Jackson 5 Jermaine also defended his sibling on Twitter. “So many in media ... blindly taking #LeavingNeverland at face value, shaping a narrative uninterested in facts, proof, credibility. We faced similar "graphic" claims + trial-by-media in '05. Jury saw through it all. Trial-by-law proved Michael's innocence long ago. Fact.” He also spoke to Good Morning Britain and begged the public, “Just leave us alone. Leave him alone. Let him rest.”
The icon stated that his accusers were “thrilled to be there” (Neverland) as seen in the doc, and that, in her opinion, meant that there was probably no inappropriate behavior from the “Billie Jean” singer. She even went so far as to say in the UK Times interview, “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.” After backlash came in fast and furious, Streisand apologized for her remarks but didn’t say she didn’t believe them. “I blame, I guess, the parents who would allow their children to sleep with him,” she said.
Black Eyed Peas leader will.i.am did not hesitate after the doc aired to defend an idol of his. He spoke to The Evening Standard and said that the sudden backlash from the doc is a “smear campaign.” “We live in a very, very, very, very hypocritical, double-standard, fake society,” he said to the UK publication. “I can name a thousand other products that we still buy, still use, that are owned by folks that have done the most horrendous things to people, millions of them, and we don’t take their products from the market.”
T.I. posted his thoughts on the doc on Instagram. He was seriously upset by the inappropriate timing of the doc with Jackson deceased. “Let this man speak for himself to defend his legacy. Don’t just listen to one side and expect to find truth. Oh that’s right...Dead men can’t speak. So what was the point again? Destroy another strong black historical legend?!?! It’s several examples of pedophilia in American History... if y’all pulling up all our old (expletive)... we gotta examine Elvis Presley, Hugh Hefner and a whole slew of others guilty of the same if not more!!! But why us all the time? There’s an agenda to destroy our culture.”
Diana Ross took to Twitter on March 23 to lend her support to her old Motown pal. “This is what's on my heart this morning. I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is a magnificent incredible force to me and to many others. Stop in the name of love."
The next three celebs are longtime supporters of Jackson, and their support for him has been turned to silence in that they haven’t spoken about the issue since the release of Leaving Neverland.
LL Cool J
One of the more successful rappers in the history of the genre, LL Cool J didn’t mince words when the topic of MJ’s child abuse charges came up. As quoted in Entertainment Weekly, he stated, "I'm a fan. I support him a hundred zillion percent. Until I see evidence, I'm not going to be convinced. I'm not going to be brainwashed.” Since the release of the doc, he has been silent about Jackson post-Leaving Neverland.
Like LL Cool J, Keys was not happy with how MJ was being portrayed in those early 2000 legal issues. She told MTV News back in the day, "I'm upset at the way he's being treated in the media. I think they're really trying to slander his name, and I really think that's unfair for the way that he's contributed to the American culture since the day he was born. I think he deserves much more than that. This is someone's life, and I don't think he should be reduced to a joke. He's far more than that." Since Leaving Neverland …she has been quiet.
The View host Whoopi Goldberg isn’t having it when it comes to the continual flames fired towards the “Thriller” singer. Back in 2009, before Leaving Neverland, she said on Page Six, “This guy... sex is not part of his world, this is my opinion. I never believed that sex was a part of Michael's world. To him, hurting a child... he would rather hurt an adult if he was going to hurt somebody, he would never hurt a child." Since the Netflix doc premiered, she has been silent on the subject. However, one of her quotes from back in the day is fascinating, given all that was exposed in the flick. “I left my child with Michael Jackson."