HBO aired the first half of its two-part, four-hour-long Michael Jackson documentary "Leaving Neverland" Sunday with viewer reaction divided among mortification, denial and rage.
The film, told through the perspective of accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who were young boys when Jackson befriended them, offers never-before-told accounts of their friendship with the singer and the alleged decades-long sexual molestation that followed.
Twitter users quickly began to call Robson's credibility into question, pointing out that Robson initially testified at Jackson's trial that the singer had never abused him before reversing his position in 2013. The online defense of the singer follows a similar response when the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Ardent fans, most of whom had yet to see the film, disparaged it on websites and social media. Much of the criticism reflected the stance of the Jackson estate, which sued HBO in February, alleging that the cable channel violated prior non-disparagement agreements.
While the majority of people tweeting seemed skeptical of the documentary, a handful of stars including Michael Rapaport, Judd Apatow and Amber Tamblyn were among the voices tweeting in disgust of the acts described.
Many Twitter users took to commenting under the hashtag #MJInnocent, disparaging the few sources included and mentioning the more than a decade’s worth of investigations leading to the 2005 trial where Jackson was found not guilty of 14 related charges.