The allegations of child molestation highlighted in HBO's Leaving Neverland documentary might make Michael Jackson the new face of "cancel culture."
On Monday, Mar. 4, three Montreal radio stations pulled Jackson's music following the Sunday premiere of Leaving Neverland. According to a spokesperson for the station's parent company Cogeco Media, this decision was made to oblige the requests of their audience.
"We are attentive to listeners’ comments, and last night’s documentary created reactions," Cogeco Media's director of marketing and communications Christine Dicaire told the local news.
Media companies in New Zealand followed suit Wednesday, when two of New Zealand's biggest radio networks announced that they will no longer support the King of Pop by pulling his music. Like Montreal's Cogeco Media, this move came at the urging of their audience. According to the New York Times, Leon Wratt, the content director of New Zealand's MediaWorks explained that this decision is not an indictment, but rather something to sooth the minds of its listeners.
"We aren’t deciding whether Michael Jackson is guilty of pedophilia or not," Wratt said. "We’re just merely trying to make sure that our radio stations are going to play the music that people want to hear."
Despite the swirling controversy surrounding the documentary, its premiere generated historic numbers for the network. From the two-night event, Sunday's 'Part One' carried the bulk of the interest averaging 1.29 million viewers. This gave Leaving Neverland the third-largest audience for an HBO documentary in a decade. That popularity and the ensuing "cancelation" it's causing are things the Jackson family tried to prevent.
Prior to Leaving Neverland's release, Jackson's estate filed a lawsuit against HBO and the documentary's creators, claiming that the doc violates a non-disparagement clause from a previous contract. Also, the lawsuit points to Jackson's 2005 criminal case for which the singer was found not guilty of the same accusations raised by the documentary.