Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest “Michael Jackson” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland.

Michael Jackson in <i>Leaving Neverland.</i>
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Thinkstock and Sundance.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 545 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

On Slate Plus, the hosts continue their conversation about Leaving Neverland.

Go to to learn more about Slate Plus and join today.

This week, Steve, Dana, and Julia discuss Leaving Neverland, a new documentary from HBO that centers on Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson beginning when they were 7 and 10 years old, respectively. The hosts start by discussing their initial responses to the participants and framing of the four-hour doc, including director Dan Reed’s decision to keep Jackson himself at arm’s length. Next, they talk to Christina Cauterucci about the way the documentary handles the accusers’ stories—and opens them up to criticism. Finally, they’re joined by music critic Carl Wilson to discuss Jackson’s legacy and what, if anything, can or should be done to disentangle his art from our lives and culture.


Links to some of the things we discussed this week:

Leaving Neverland
• “What Kind of Mother” by Lili Loofbourow in Slate
Abducted in Plain Sight
• “How Leaving Neverland Does a Disservice to Michael Jackson’s Accusers” by Christina Cauterucci in Slate
• “Leaving Neverland Could Transform Our Ideas of What Sexual Assault Victims Look Like” by Inkoo Kang in Slate
• “It’s Too Late to Cancel Michael Jackson” by Carl Wilson in Slate
• “Trove of Letters Reveals Charles Dickens Tried to Lock His Wife Away in an Asylum” by Lila Thulin in Smithsonian Magazine

Outro: “Departing” by Luwaks

This podcast was produced by Benjamin Frisch. Our production assistant is Alex Barasch.

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