Michael Jackson’s estate issued a statement Monday in support of the late pop star on the 10th anniversary of his death amid an ongoing battle over his reputation and legacy.
The statement described Jackson as a “gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian” whose continued influence in dance, fashion, music and art has made him “more important than ever.” It encouraged fans to perform a charitable deed in honor of Jackson, who died at his home in Los Angeles on June 25, 2009.
The statement on “the void left by the loss of a father, son and brother” made no reference to the current controversy surrounding Jackson. But other public tributes to the singer timed to the anniversary of his death have been abandoned in the wake of “Leaving Neverland,” the explosive documentary that revived and elaborated on allegations against Jackson of child molestation. A possible unscripted series on his life was dropped, as were plans for a re-creation of “This Is It,” the concert Jackson was planning before he died, sources have told Variety.
The late superstar’s estate has denounced the documentary as slanderous. Its statement Monday retailed his musical achievements and philanthropic activities and reasserted his status as a global icon. “When mastery of a craft is the measure, Michael Jackson’s divine abilities remain the yardstick by which others are measured and against which today’s masters still measure themselves,” the statement said.
But the damage done by “Leaving Neverland” to Jackson’s reputation is undeniable. Some radio stations have reportedly taken his songs off the air, Drake dropped a song featuring Jackson from his concert set list in Britain, and a show this past Sunday at London’s O2 Arena quit advertising itself as “Quincy Jones Presents ‘Off the Wall,’ ‘Thriller,’ ‘Bad’” and changed it to “Quincy Jones Presents Soundtrack of the 80s: Iconic Sounds & Defining Albums.”