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Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson abuse documentary leaves viewers 'horrified, disgusted, shocked and physically sick'

The i logo The i 07/03/2019 Laura Martin
a person lying on a bed © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

The first part of Leaving Neverland: Michael Jackson and Me has aired on Channel 4 - and viewers were horrified.

a group of people posing for the camera © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

In the two-hour documentary - the second part of which airs tonight - two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck exposed Michael Jackson as a predatory paedophile, recounting abuse in graphic detail.

a person wearing glasses © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

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'I was abused like Michael Jackson's victims - this is why I didn't speak up until later in life, too'

The disturbing content made it a difficult watch for viewers.

Michael Jackson's estate deny all allegations against the late singer made in the film.

'Physically sick'

One person said she felt "physically sick" and that "some of the descriptions of the alleged abuse will stay with me forever".

Wade Robson met Michael Jackson for the first time in 1987 after winning a dance competition in Australia (Photo: Channel 4)

Another said: "I literally can't sleep because I'm so frustrated at the worlds naivety about Leaving Neverland. Take away the fact he was the world's biggest popstar and you're left with a sick adult who groomed and silenced entire families with millions of dollars".

Others commented: "I don't have words for the horror I'm feeling watching Leaving Neverland. I feel sick" and "I'm sad, disgusted, horrified, confused, shocked. Utterly shocked".

Does anyone still feel physically sick after #leavingneverland Some of the descriptions of the alleged abuse will stay with me forever. More tonight 🤢🤮

— Amanda Humphreys (Hull) (@amandah154) March 7, 2019

I literally can’t sleep because I’m so frustrated at the worlds naivety about #LeavingNeverland - take away the fact he was the worlds biggest pop star and you’re left with a sick adult who groomed and silenced entire families with millions of dollars

— matt ⚰️ (@sparkes__) March 7, 2019

I don’t have words for the horror I’m feeling watching #LeavingNeverLand wow. I feel sick.

— Sarah Murphy (@saz84) March 7, 2019

Finished #LeavingNeverland tonight. I’m Sad. Disgusted. Horrified. Confused. Shocked. Utterly shocked.

— Shawna (@Shawnabeann) March 7, 2019

But Jackson fans - following a small protest at Channel 4 studios on Wednesday to coincide with Leaving Neverland part one airing - have spent their time attacking his alleged victims online, accusing them of being liars, gold-diggers and fake actors.

When people tweeted disgust with Jackson's behaviour, the fans jump on them, with comments like "facts don't lie, people do", which they seem to have adopted as an anti-#metoo movement slogan, where the alleged victims are shamed for daring to eventually speak out.

Abuse survivors have been responding by explaining their own experiences online. One woman said: "I married my abuser. I'd been groomed from a young age. Whilst I was under his spell I would have stood up in court and given him an alibi for murder. That's why I believe them."

I married my abuser. I’d been groomed from a young age. My mother thought he was wonderful. Whilst I was under his spell I would have stood up in Court and given him an Alibi for murder. That’s why I believe them #LeavingNeverland

— MrsP (@MrsP90381578) March 7, 2019

The film has also brought up the question - can we still enjoy Jackson's music, knowing what he did? For many people, it's now impossible to separate the popstar from the allegations.

One person commented: "Deleting all Michael Jackson songs from my library. Bye monster."

deleting all michael jackson songs from my library. bye monster.

— BJ Renales (@bonjovirenales) March 7, 2019

However, some people argue that the music should be accepted at face value and appreciated for what it is. On social media user explained: "Nothing will stop me listening and dancing to his music. Great art stands alone and speaks for itself, regardless of who created it."

I won’ be jumping on the #MichaelJackson bandwagon; haven’t seen the doc, may or may not watch it BUT nothing will stop me listening and dancing to his music. Great art stands alone and speaks for itself, regardless of who created it#thursdaythoughts

— Loves Life (@MajesticWendy) March 7, 2019

Dropped from radio playlists

Overnight, more radio stations have revealed they may no longer play Jackson's music.

Quebec radio network Cogeco Media has stopped playing Jackson’s music on three major Montreal stations and 23 other stations on the network will no longer play songs by him.  The Australian Nova Entertainment Company, including Smooth FM, has pulled it from their playlists.

The two largest radio networks in New Zealand, MediaWorks and NZME, and Radio New Zealand have said they will temporarily pause Jackson.

Jackson in 2006 (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

While the BBC had been reportedly dropped Jackson from its playlist, a spokesperson told Variety that this was not the case.

“The BBC does not ban artists,” they said. “We consider each piece of music on its merits and decisions on what we play on different networks are always made with relevant audiences and context in mind."

Another BBC spokesperson told the publication: “Michael Jackson was just played on one of our stations today.”

The concluding part of the documentary airs tonight, on Channel 4 at 9pm.

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