Surviving Propaganda: Michael Jackson and R. Kelly Documentaries

Accusations Alone Can Ruin a Legacy

By: Ubong Ekpo

The two musical icons face backlash, but are documentaries full on convictions now? Photo Credit:

Beginning in January, Lifetime released a six part docuseries entitled “Surviving R. Kelly,” which followed the testimonies of various women that claimed to have been sexually abused by the R&B singer while they were teenagers.

The series addressed his controversial relationship with the late R&B singer, Aaliyah.

“Surviving R. Kelly” also addressed allegations of an alleged sex cult, where women were allegedly held captive by Kelly.

The docuseries brought renewed backlash to the R&B legend, who despite facing these same allegations in prior years, was never truly reprehended.

However, the manner in which the docuseries was produced and presented to the public can be questioned.

One story that was questioned was the case of Lizzette Martinez, who claimed the 1995 Michael Jackson song, “You are Not Alone” which was written by R. Kelly, was written about her in response to her allegedly miscarrying Kelly’s child.

Martinez claimed to have met Kelly in 1995 at the age of 16. However, a piece from the Chicago Tribune that was written in December 1994, stated that Jackson and Kelly were working on this song since November and had completed it, which directly contradicted Martinez’s claim since she said she met him in 1995.

“Surviving R. Kelly” set the precedent for documentaries to be used as fact.

This model was soon intensified by the documentary “ Leaving Neverland,” which debuted on March 3rd and 4th.

Wade Robson and James Safechuck alleged they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson for several years from childhood until their teenage years.

With “Leaving Neverland,” there are severe credibility issues that  need to be addressed.

Director Dan Reed has repeatedly maintained Robson and Safechuck do not seek a financial incentive for the film, they simply want “justice.”

What Reed fails to mention is that  Robson and Safechuck filed a $1.6 Billion lawsuit against the Michael Jackson estate in 2013.

Robson was the sole filer of the lawsuit originally and claimed he was abused.

Despite being cross examined and being asked in detail whether he was sexually assaulted by Michael Jackson several times, including by Jackson’s lawyer in his 2005 trial, Robson claims he didn’t understand he was abused. He maintains throughout the documentary, that he was “in love with Michael Jackson” as a result of Jackson’s grooming.

It should be noted by 2013, the statute of limitations expire on perjury charges one year earlier for Robson, in 2012 and if the accusers claims to not recognize the abuse, it is considered valid.

No one in the media seems to focus on the fact that Robson consistently defended Jackson of any wrongdoing.

Robson’s accusations come coincidentally only after the Michael Jackson Estate declined him as a dance director for the Cirque De Soleil Michael Jackson in Las Vegas.

When Robson’s emails were forced to be shown, which is documented in his own lawsuit, there were several emails which were found to show Robson emailing himself slanderous articles about Michael Jackson. There were also several drafts of his autobiography detailing his alleged abuse, with each draft containing contradicting accounts of abuse.

One of Robson and Safechuck’s many allegations was that Jackson had trained them to hate women. This was immediately challenged by Jackson’s niece Brandi Jackson, who revealed she was in a nine year relationship with Robson, a relationship set up by Jackson himself.

Their relationship was not mentioned at all in the documentary, which directly contradicts Robson’s story.

Several errors were made by Safechuck, that no one is reporting on, such as Safechuck claiming Jackson took him on a vacation to Euro Disney in 1988, when Euro disney was not opened until 1992.

Safechuck also claimed to have been abused in a train station at the Neverland ranch.

The train station as proven by the building permits was not built until 1994, Safechuck claims his alleged abused ended in 1992.

Safechuck also claimed Jackson spent the Thanksgiving of 1987 with his family, when Jackson in fact was on his Bad Tour in Brisbane, Australia the very week of this Thanksgiving.

“Surviving R. Kelly” and “Leaving Neverland” are both dependent on the public to be emotionally outraged enough to want to erase the legacies of Michael Jackson and R. Kelly.

Michael Jackson was exonerated by a court of his peers, along with two FBI investigations within a 17 year span.

R. Kelly may have committed some transgressions, but a docuseries railroading him is simply not enough to warrant him effectively guilty.

In the Me Too era, asking questions is deemed “victim shaming,” yet what we’re supposed to take as “truth” often times is unresolved.

1 reply »

  1. Excellent article-nice to see someone actually stating facts in these cases during the #metoo era. I do believe Me Too was meant to listen to victims, not believe everything without verification.

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