After director Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland debuted on HBO earlier this month, in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck reveal their alleged childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson, reactions were heated and mixed. While many found the documentary and its two accusers both convincing and heartbreaking, others rejected even the possibility the King of Pop had molested multiple children. In a new interview with The Times, however, Barbra Streisand comes out with a very different perspective on Leaving Neverland. In a nutshell, her take seems to be: Hey, was it really all that bad?
“Oh absolutely,” Streisand said when asked if she believed the allegations of sexual abuse made in the film. “That was too painful.” That being said, the singer also seems extremely sympathetic to Michael Jackson, to the point that she suggests the alleged child abuse is in some way mitigated by the fact “it didn’t kill them.” Explained Streisand: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard say [the grown-up Robson and Safechuck], they were thrilled to be there.” Said Streisand: “They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
No matter her level of empathy for Michael Jackson, however, Streisand, like many viewers, laid most of the blame at the feet of Safechuck and Robson’s parents. “It’s a combination of feelings,” said the singer. “I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him. Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”
Update, March 23: After receiving widespread criticism on social media for her comments, Streisand has issued a statement of clarification. “To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is okay for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone,” the statement says. “The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them. The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children. It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”