'It Was a Complete Money Grab' - Michael Jackson's Nephew on Leaving Neverland

© AP Photo / Jeff WidernerAmerican pop star Michael Jackson performs during his "Dangerous" tour in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 1993.
American pop star Michael Jackson performs during his Dangerous tour in Bangkok, Aug. 25, 1993. - Sputnik International
The recent documentary Leaving Neverland certainly made waves in the entertainment industry, with many claiming that it could cast a shadow over pop music idol Michael Jackson's legacy. But did the programme offer a balanced view of the entertainer? Sputnik spoke with Michael Jackson's nephew, Taj Jackson, to get his views on the issue.

Sputnik: What was your reaction when you first watched Leaving Neverland?

Taj Jackson: It was weird because I was on the way to the UK on a plane when it aired in the States, so I actually got the aftermath before I even got to see it myself; but from my American friends and some of the clips they were playing for me, kind of over the phone, it didn't ring true to me at all.

I was like "that's a lie, that's a lie"; and it was more frustrating than anything going through and watching clips, because I had interviews in the UK, so they would show me clips from Leaving Neverland and it was a weird feeling, not only of betrayal, but a feeling of how are they getting away with this?

That's honestly how I felt. Dan Reed never even bothered to get the other side, he didn't want the other side; he didn't want the other story and I think that's very irresponsible when you claim something happened and you don't even see it from another perspective, especially when there are credibility issues from court cases and deposition, that both Wade and James had in 2014 and 2016.

It was just very irresponsible, but also it kind of made me angry. Befriending my uncle throughout the years; that was something that didn't happen for a lot of people, and I felt like they took his niceness, they took his caring, and they twisted it and they perverted it, and that was something that really frustrated me as a family member, and the people closest to him, because we know what it's like to have been around him in that environment, and he took care of you, he cared about you and the way that they make it seem in that documentary, was not Michael Jackson, it was anything but Michael Jackson.

READ MORE: Jackson's Bodyguard Opens Up on Singer's Sexuality Amid Leaving Neverland Uproar

Sputnik: How do you think Michael Jackson would have responded to the documentary?

Taj Jackson: I've said this before in an interview; this documentary wouldn't have existed if my uncle was alive. They would have been sued and he would have won, and Wade and James both, I definitely know for sure that Wade would still be doing tributes for my uncle right now, he'd still have wheeled his way into my uncle's life somehow. So there would have been no documentary, I can tell you that right now.

The only reason there is a documentary is because my uncle is no longer here, and he doesn't feel like there is any connection anymore to Michael Jackson, because there is no spiritual connection anymore, that's the honest truth.

Wade was doing tribute shows all the way up to 2012, so I feel like once the opportunity stopped, once the Jackson estate stopped him from doing the Cirque du Soleil thing, that's when everything changed, and James has said in an interview that basically he discovered he was abused after seeing Wade, to talk about it and to have the same lawyers; for me it's a complete money grab.

Sputnik: Do you think Michael was largely misunderstood by the general public?

Taj Jackson: I think the fans knew him very well and he was known to spend time with the fans, like quality time with the fans, so I feel that the general public was misinformed and I hate to say it, by the American media and partly the UK media, the tabloids and stuff like that.

They've led the charge in the Wacko Jacko, this that and whatever. Granted, my uncle was very eccentric and I don't think he helped himself in certain scenarios, but at the same time they ran with it, and it was almost like a free reign to make up any story they wanted to about Michael Jackson, and I think that's where the misunderstanding comes from. Also, it was in an era when the more mysterious you were, the bigger you were, the Princes, the Madonnas — they were mysterious, we didn't know a lot about them. The more we didn't know about them, the bigger they were, the bigger the legend they were.

It's only because of social media now that it's the complete opposite, and you have to know what they are eating for breakfast and all that stuff; it's completely different and I don't know if my uncle would have existed in this world.

I always say: before you saw a magic trick and said "wow that's amazing!" Now it's like you show the magic trick and you are shown how to do it, the angles of how to do it, you are shown everything, you are shown the behind the scenes of everything; so there is no wonder anymore.

I think that's the difference, that my uncle was like a mystery, and so the people closest to him, that's why the people closest to him have come to his defence, because they know him. But I don't feel that the general public do know him, I really don't. I think the fans know him, because they've done their research, they've looked into his life and stuff like that; but the general public, they don't know him, and that might be some fault of the family, my uncle and the media. But it was just a different time period; it was the more mysterious the better.




*Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Taj Jackson and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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