What Does ‘Lies of Leaving Neverland’ Mean? Why Is it Trending on Twitter?

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The hashtag #LiesofLeavingNeverland was trending Saturday, in response to a self-proclaimed documentary called “Lies of Leaving Neverland” which was published on August 13 and argues for Michael Jackson’s full innocence, in the wake of HBO’s “Leaving Neverland,” which came out earlier this year.

The thirty-minute long video (which can be seen in full below and is available on YouTube) argues for Jackson’s full innocence in the wake of the allegations made against the late singer by Wade Robson and James Safechuck in Leaving Neverland. Both men allege that Jackson sexually abused them over several years, starting when they were children. Jackson vehemently denied all of the allegations of sexual assault against him throughout his life.

Neither Robson nor Safechuck have responded to the allegations made against them in this video, nor to the allegations made against them by Twitter users across the globe.

Here’s what you need to know:


Lies of Leaving Neverland Includes Apparent 2016 Deposition by Robson


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The latest documentary Lies of Leaving Neverland includes what appears to be a 2016 deposition by Robson. The video was uploaded by an account that was created on the same day of the upload (August 13) and is under the name “Mark Hostetler.” The caption for the video redirects to a site under the same name, titled “Leaving Neverland Lies.”

Many defenders of the documentary argue there to be inconsistencies between Robson’s deposition in 2016 and the story he gave to HBO; it’s worth noting that the HBO documentary directly acknowledges, for both Robson and Safechuck, their inconsistent testimonies in the past. What’s more, both men explain their reasons for lying about their alleged abuse for many years, with each of them acknowledging how many competing psychological factors contributed to their inability to tell their truth until much later.

In their follow-up interview with Oprah, titled After Neverland, the two went into that issue further in depth, with the TV mogul noting that it’s common for survivors of sexual assault to change their story repeatedly before coming out with the truth.

Still, many users believe the new “documentary” to be damning. One fan wrote, “#LiesOfLeavingNeverland Wade said that he was ‘abused’ in New York in 1989 after he preformed st the grammys but the Grammys were in Los Angeles and Michael didn’t perform at the grammy in 1989″

Surgeon Eugene Gu tweeted, “The media needs to stick to facts, evidence, and the truth or it becomes a monster. Destroying people’s lives with lies is completely disgusting and exploits the pain of real victims to get more clicks and views. Horrifying. #LiesOfLeavingNeverland”
Still others argued that the hashtag itself, as well as the documentary that inspired it, are both abhorrent. Mike Wise, a sports commentator and journalist, tweeted,Fact #LiesOfLeavingNeverland is trending shows you what a digital wasteland Twitter truly is. Whether you believe Michael Jackson was a pedophile or not, the possibility that you joined a warped support group of people who shame adult survivors of child sexual abuse is just sick.”

Leaving Neverland inspired a controversy as soon as it was released. Michael Jackson’s family and estate vehemently opposed the documentary, and filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO following the documentary’s release. In January, Michael Jackson’s Estate provided the following statement:

“‘Leaving Neverland’ isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death,” Jackson’s estate said in a statement. “The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers.”

As for HBO, attorneys representing the company provided the following statement in August, arguing that the documentary is protected under the First Amendment:

“HBO’s distribution of this documentary–which recounts the personal stories of two individuals who describe in detail how, as young boys, they were sexually abused for years by Michael Jackson, arguably one of the world’s most famous public figures–constitutes protected activity under the First Amendment and California Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16.”


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