Dan Reed’s harrowing Michael Jackson sexual abuse documentary has been the talk of Sundance. But to the surprise of many festival-goers, his songs are still being blasted at official parties and other events in Park City, Utah.
Despite the graphic descriptions of accused sexual abuse against boys as young as age 7 in “Leaving Neverland,” there’s been no boycott of Jackson’s many hits.
A lounge sponsored by automaker Acura pumped “Billie Jean” into Park City’s Swede Alley as pedestrians walked past in nervous laughter. On Saturday night, a pop-up of the nightclub Tao played a five-song mashup of Jackson hits including “Rock With You” and “The Way You Make Me Feel,” courtesy of DJ Vice. The crowd ate it up, as Hollywood agents, filmmakers and talent rubbed shoulders.
The awkward pairing of the horrified reception to the film and the celebration of Jackson’s music even made it to social media humor account OverheardLA, in town to eavesdrop on absurd soundbites from industry people.
“Tonight’s deejay def has their work cut out for them,” a festival goer was quoted saying to a friend.
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The friend responded, “I mean I am still gonna request Billie Jean.”
Not only are the filmmakers and the two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, in town to discuss the HBO release, people are taking to social media saying they’re now triggered by Jackson’s iconic song catalog.
“Yesterday, I read about Michael Jackson raping children and today I was in a store when one of his songs started playing,” author Nell Scovell tweeted. “I felt physically ill. Stations shd take him out of rotation. His art is now connected w/his perversions and crimes. #HesBadHesBad.”
Representatives for Tao and Acura had no immediate comment. One nightlife insider noted that clubs do not censor or curate music for deejays. Jackson’s estate has denied the allegations laid out in “Leaving Neverland” and condemned the film as “tabloid sensation.”