Michael Jackson’s name seems to be permanently stained following the disturbing HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, where two alleged victims of the King of Pop detail the story of how they were sexually abused while they were younger. The film has led to plenty of reactions and sympathy for the alleged subjects, and now one of the most monumental TV shows in history, The Simpsons, is making the decision to pull an episode that featured Michael Jackson’s voice because of the disgusting material in the documentary.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, a longtime executive producer of The Simpsons, James L. Brooks, says that a 1991 episode entitled “Stark Raving Dad” will be pulled from all platforms and outlets that carry the show — which include streaming services, TV stations and Blu-ray/DVD box sets — citing the Leaving Neverland documentary as the reason why the show wants to disassociate itself with Michael Jackson in any form. Here’s what Brooks had to tell WSJ‘s Joe Flint about the decision.
“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” Mr. Brooks said of the 1991 episode in which Mr. Jackson voiced the character of a patient in a mental hospital who believes he is the pop star.
“The guys I work with—where we spend our lives arguing over jokes—were of one mind on this,” Mr. Brooks said in an interview, speaking on behalf of the production team behind “The Simpsons.”
“The documentary gave evidence of monstrous behavior, he said, adding that he went into it wanting to “believe the thing that we believe,” which was that Mr. Jackson was falsely accused.
The Simpsons episode with Michael Jackson’s voice had Homer Simpson in a mental institution, where he befriends a man who claims to be Jackson named Leon Kompowsky. Brooks had mentioned that the decision to pull the episode was a difficult one, adding that it was one of his all-time favorites. Here’s a quick clip from the soon-to-be floored episode.
Brooks and longtime executives and producers of the show, including The Simpsons’ creators, Matt Groening and Al Jean, were in agreement that it was necessary to pull the Michael Jackson episode following the details in Leaving Neverland.
“This was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain.”
“I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”
Although the process of pulling the episode is going to be grueling, it has already begun, with the focus being on showing compassion for the alleged victims. Brooks did add that he expects some criticism from the decision, but stands by the move, with WSJ saying that, in his mind, Leaving Neverland “made the case beyond argument” for maintaining any association with Michael Jackson.