Barbra Streisand Criticized for Remarks About Michael Jackson’s Accusers

Barbra Streisand Criticized for Remarks About Michael Jackson’s Accusers

Barbra Streisand became the subject of intense criticism over the weekend after sharing her thoughts on “Leaving Neverland,” the new documentary about Michael Jackson, saying that the alleged victims of his sexual abuse were “thrilled” to be with him.

The documentary brought to light the abuse that two children, now men, said they endured at the hands of Mr. Jackson.

“His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has,” Ms. Streisand said in an interview published on Friday in The Times of London. “You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

She added that she believed the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the men who claimed in the documentary that Mr. Jackson abused them when they were children.

On Saturday, Ms. Streisand clarified her comments in a statement.

“To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is O.K. for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone,” she said.

In the Times of London interview, she said she felt sympathy for Mr. Jackson, saying he was “very sweet, very childlike” when she met him.

She added that while she felt bad for the children, she also felt bad for Mr. Jackson and ultimately blamed the children’s parents.

“I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him,” she said. “Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”

In her statement on Saturday, Ms. Streisand reiterated her feelings about the children’s parents.

“The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children,” she said. “It’s clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”

The comments from Ms. Streisand, who is a member of the elite EGOT club (meaning she has won at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award), came under fire on social media. Shortly after the interview was published, the hashtag #CancelBarbraStreisand began trending on Twitter.

Dan Reed, who directed “Leaving Neverland,” asked on Twitter whether pedophilia was a norm of the entertainment industry.

“‘His sexual needs were his sexual needs’ — is pedophilia tolerated in parts of the entertainment industry?” he tweeted.

Mr. Reed, Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck did not immediately respond to messages and emails left with their publicists.

In August 1993, Mr. Jackson was investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department over claims that he had molested a 13-year-old boy. In 1994, Mr. Jackson settled a lawsuit brought by the boy’s parents for $23 million.

In a 2003 documentary, Mr. Jackson discussed sharing his bed with a young cancer survivor. The film sparked a criminal investigation, and Mr. Jackson was charged with child molesting, serving alcohol to a minor, conspiracy and kidnapping; he was found not guilty of all charges in 2005. Several years after Mr. Jackson’s death, Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck separately sued the pop star’s estate. Both cases were dismissed, and both are under appeal.

Social media users criticized Ms. Streisand’s comments as tone deaf and said they were tantamount to telling sexual assault survivors to just get over it.

“Leaving Neverland,” which HBO began showing in two parts this month, features Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck detailing how they met Mr. Jackson, how thrilled they were to work with him and how he ingratiated himself with their families in order to have access to them.

In the documentary, Mr. Safechuck, who was around 9 or 10 when he met Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Robson, who was 7, describe how Mr. Jackson appeared larger than life and how they felt special because he had chosen them as buddies.

The relationships soon turned sour, they explained in the documentary, after they felt Mr. Jackson replaced them with other children.

Mr. Jackson, who died in 2005 at age 50, lived a majority of his life in the spotlight.

At 5, he was the lead singer of the Jackson 5, a music group his father, Joe Jackson, started with his four brothers. Michael Jackson later became a solo act and eventually sold 750 million records. He became popular for groundbreaking music videos in the 1980s.

In the interview with The Times of London, Ms. Streisand said she turned down an opportunity to sing a duet with Mr. Jackson for his 1987 album, “Bad.”

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