Dan Reed, the director behind HBO’s Leaving Neverland, has finally addressed Dave Chappelle's new Netflix special, Sticks & Stones, and the material targeting Michael Jackson’s alleged abuse victims.
The four-hour film focused on the testimonies of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who claimed to have suffered childhood abuse from Michael Jackson.
During the 2019 Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, Leaving Neverland won best documentary or nonfiction special, according to The Hollywood Reporter, beating out Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, Jane Fonda in Five Acts, Love, Gilda, Minding the Gap, and The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.
Backstage, Reed spoke about the project, saying he didn’t have an opinion on whether Jackson was "guilty or innocent." He also believed Robson and Safechuck’s claims because they were describing what he considered to be a romantic relationship.
"I thought the two guys would never speak out in front of camera," he said.
In regards to Chappelle's new Netflix special, which references Leaving Neverland, he called his jokes "revolting" and "a calculated attack" against Robson and Safechuck.
"I think that mocking the victims of child sexual assault isn’t a particularly clever thing to do," Reed said. "It got some laughs because it was part of his bit about cancel culture …. I never said to cancel Michael, there’s nothing in the documentary that says people need to stop listening to his music."
He added, "You can make jokes about so many things, why not do something brave?"
In the special, Chappelle doesn’t bite his tongue about the Michael Jackson accusers.
“I don’t believe those motherfuckers,” he says.
“Don’t watch it … it’s fucking gross … really nasty shit,” Chappelle added.
“I don’t think he did it, but you know what? Even if he did do it … you know what I mean? I mean, it’s Michael Jackson. I know more than half the people in this room have been molested in their lives, but it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it?” For the entire special, you can stream it on Netflix now.
The Creative Arts Emmys is a two-day event, handing out awards Saturday and Sunday night.