For Michael Jackson’s Legacy, the Fallout Following Leaving Neverland Has Been Huge

His music is being dropped, statues are being removed, a Broadway show is in doubt–all in response to the bombshell documentary
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While his music may be indelible, in the wake of the disturbing allegations featured in the recent documentary Leaving Neverland, people around the world seem motivated to try to have traces of Michael Jackson removed from pop culture where they can. Already, his songs are being dropped from radio around the world, his voice expunged from The Simpsons, and the premiere of a new musical about his life has been put on hold.

James L. Brooks, executive producer of The Simpsons, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that an episode of the show featuring Jackson as a guest voice will be essentially expunged from the series. It will be removed from streaming services and all future DVD or Blu-Ray compilations of the show. The episode, in which Jackson plays a delusional patient at a mental hospital who believes he’s a pop star, originally aired in 1991.

In the U.K., where the documentary has also aired, a statue of Jackson has been displayed at the National Football Museum since 2014. The large, outdoor statue was commissioned in 2009 by Mohammed Al Fayed, who was then the owner of the famous London department store Harrod’s and the chairman of the Fulham Football Club. He originally wanted the statue for Harrod’s, but sold the building before it was completed, so he erected it at Fulham’s stadium instead. Even in 2011, it didn’t go over well with the team’s fans, who found the statue bizarre and laughable, the BBC reported.

Once Al Fayed sold the soccer team to Shahid Khan, the statue was promptly removed and relocated to the museum. A spokesperson for the National Football Museum told the BBC that plans had already been in place to remove the statue permanently before the debut of Leaving Neverland, but they appear to have sped up with the film’s release. It was dismantled on March 6.

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, a new musical about Jackson and featuring his music has canceled its Chicago premiere, which was slated for February 11. Written by Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning dramatic author Lynn Nottage, the musical strings together Jackson hits along with a story of his Dangerous World Tour–a tour that was canceled in 1993 as Jackson struggled with public sexual assault allegations against him, as well as a reported addiction to pain medication that related to the stress caused to him by the revelations. TheaterMania reports that, as of now, despite the cancelation of the Chicago production, a planned 2020 Broadway premiere of the musical is still in the works.

Several international radio stations have already announced that Michael Jackson will be banned from their airwaves, including some of the largest station groups in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, according to CNBC. Stations in the U.S. have been slower to make public announcements, and his music, like that of R. Kelly, XXXTentacion, and other controversial artists, remains available on streaming services like Spotify.

Not everyone has been supportive of moves to extract Jackson. Rapper T.I. has issued statements on social media criticizing the documentary and the public’s response. “Destroy another strong black historical LEGEND?!?!” he wrote on Instagram, according to Complex. “These are assaults against OUR CULTURE!!! Make no mistake of it!!!” read another post.


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