Bleats

Simpsons Showrunner Shares Twisted Theory About The Axed Michael Jackson Episode

"It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool."

Last week the producers of The Simpsons announced that they will be pulling the 1991 episode, ‘Stark Raving Dad’, which features the voice of Michael Jackson, from all streaming services, as well as future broadcasts.

The decision to axe the episode came in the wake of Leaving Neverland, the recently-released four-hour documentary that details accounts of two men who allege that Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them over several years from when they were young boys. Jackson’s estate has publicly denied these claims.

The accusations are extremely confronting and have prompted an international conversation about how we handle the Michael Jackson content that exists in the world.

For the team behind The Simpsons, axing the episode that features a character voiced by Jackson developing a friendship with the young Bart Simpson, was a decision with a theory behind it.

Showrunner Al Jean explained,

“It wasn’t something that makes me happy.” he said. “It’s something I agree with completely. What saddens me is, if you watch that documentary—which I did, and several of us here did—and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we’d intended it. It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that.

‘I think it was part of what he used to groom boys. I really don’t know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that’s what I think. And that makes me very, very sad.”

While Jean’s theory is speculation and based on allegations, the logic does check out. Bart Simpson was, and continues to be, an icon – one who appeals especially to young boys. So the things that Bart does, and the people he chooses to trust, have an impact.

Bart’s friendship with a character who is impersonating Michael Jackson, and voiced by the man himself, was like a stamp of approval. It makes sense why The Simpsons showrunner and team feel that the episode served to make Jackson seem trustworthy to a young audience.

The question remains whether axing a 28-year-old episode actually helps the situation, but if this is how the showrunner was personally affected by the documentary then it’s fair to act on that concern. Publicly condemning the kind of sexually abusive behaviour that Michael Jackson is accused of committing in the documentary is better than no action at all.

Pete Davidson Did Not Hold Back In His Take On R. Kelly And Michael Jackson

He almost gets it right. Almost.

Pete Davidson was met with some boos and a few gasps from the studio audience during his Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update”, when he tackled the controversial topic of famous artists being accused of sexual misconduct.

Specifically, Davidson brought up R. Kelly and Michael Jackson, who have both been recently accused of sexual misconduct in high profile documentaries. Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly resurfaced abuse and misconduct claims against Kelly, while allegations of child sex abuse against Jackson resurfaced in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland. Kelly and Jackson’s estate both deny all allegations against them.

“Before I continue like this, [R. Kelly] is a monster and he should go to jail forever.” Pete Davidson said. “But if you support the Catholic Church, isn’t that like the same thing as being an R. Kelly fan?” Davidson asked, as some audience members booed.

Pete Davidson accused people of only being upset about the allegations against Jackson and Kelly because they admire them as musicians.

“If I found out Macklemore did some stuff, I’d be happy to free up the space on my iPhone,” he joked.

He then pitched an argument that essentially calls for the critical consumption of artists who are accused or found guilty of sexual misconduct and/or other prejudiced behaviour. 

“The rule should be that you can appreciate their work, but only if you admit what they did.” He said. “You can buy a Mustang, but you have to say, ‘Henry Ford hated the Jews’ as you buckle in. The full sentence should be ‘Mark Wahlberg beat up an old Asian dude, and I would like one ticket to Daddy’s Home 3 please.’ Because if it’s that important to you, at least own it. I don’t need to ever see a Kevin Spacey movie again but if the CEO of Swisher Sweets turns out to be a cannibal, I can’t just change my whole life.” 

Davidson then added that people should donate a dollar to charity every time you listen to the music of an accused person, and joked that he had already donated $142 for listening to R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition’.

The problem with that ‘solution’ is that it’s an easy (and cheap) way for us to sidestep holding people accountable. But at least Davidson definitely has the right approach with the call for people to not let their admiration for artists motivate them to outright reject any unsavoury narratives simply because it makes it uncomfortable to be a fan.

Macaulay Culkin Wants You To Stop Making Gross Jokes About His Friendship With Michael Jackson

Fair.

About 28 years ago, when Macaulay Culkin was a 10-year-old star off the back of his Home Alone fame, he famously struck up a friendship with music legend Michael Jackson. At the time there was a 22-year age gap between the pair and so their relationship was a major topic of interest and speculation for fans and pretty much, the whole world.

The scrutiny was only intensified after Jackson, who died at 50 in 2009 from an overdose of propofol, stood trial in 2005 on charges tied to allegations he molested a 13-year-old boy he had befriended. The music legend was found not guilty, but the rumours lingered and eventually became a big part of Michael Jackson’s legacy.

But Macaulay Culkin does not want that story to be a part of his own legacy, which is especially understandable considering how regularly the controversy is referenced in jest, usurped inappropriately for comedy and entertainment.

On an episode of the “Inside of You With Michael Rosenbaum” podcast released Tuesday, Culkin insisted their friendship was innocent, “so normal and mundane”.

Macaulay Culkin  appeared in Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ music video and was made godfather to all three of the popstar’s children.

He admitted their friendship may have seemed weird on the outside due to the significant age difference and Jackson being “the most famous person in the world”, but it felt totally normal to them.

“He reached out to me because a lot of things were happening, big and fast with me and I think he identified with that,’” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s almost easy to say it was weird or whatever, but it wasn’t because it made sense. At the end of the day, we were friends.”

Culkin then explained that he had more in common with Jackson, who would have been in his thirties, than children at his school as they had both found fame really young, with the music icon joining family group The Jackson 5 when he was only five years old.

“I was a peerless person. Nobody else in my Catholic school had even this much idea of what I was going through and he was the kind of person who’d been through the exact same frickin’ thing and wanted to make sure I wasn’t alone,” he said. “For me, it’s so normal and mundane… I know it’s a big deal to everyone else, but to me, it was a normal friendship.”

The iconic child star also recalled how he would prank call people with the ‘Beat It’ singer, who he described as “hilarious,” “sweet,” and “funny”.

Let’s consider this a request from Macaulay Culkin that people stop publicly dissecting his childhood with assumptions and aspersions, and absolutely cut the gross jokes. He shouldn’t have to ask for that, because it should really never be a joke.

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