The creators of The Simpsons have announced they’ll be removing the episode featuring the voice of Michael Jackson from their archives.
The news comes after the accusations made in the recent documentary Leaving Neverland.
The show’s executive producer James L. Brooks confirmed the decision, saying the classic episode from season three – titled Stark Raving Dad – will no longer be in circulation, and will be pulled from syndication and streaming services.
Speaking about the decision, Brooks told the Wall Street Journal:
It feels clearly the only choice to make. The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this.
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.
The episode first aired in 1991, and saw Jackson lend his voice to the character of Leon Kompowsky – a patient at a mental institute where Homer is sent.
The singer’s involvement in the show was initially uncredited, and was only confirmed to be the real Jackson years later.
For some reason, though, Jackson doesn’t actually sing on the episode, instead they used impersonator Kipp Lennon for the ‘Happy Birthday Lisa’ song.
The news comes after a shocking HBO documentary – Leaving Neverland – made claims the singer sexually abused Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck when they were just seven and nine respectively.
Some viewers said they felt sick after watching it, while Louis Theroux – who made his own documentary about Jackson in 2003, said people are being ‘wilfully blind’ if they ‘can’t see Michael Jackson was a paedophile’.
His tweet read:
If you can’t see that Michael Jackson was a paedophile after watching @danreed1000 ‘s film you are being wilfully blind.
And if you are campaigning against it you are actively colluding in the silencing of victims.
If you can’t see that Michael Jackson was a paedophile after watching @danreed1000 ‘s film you are being wilfully blind. And if you are campaigning against it you are actively colluding in the silencing of victims.
— Louis Theroux (@louistheroux) March 7, 2019
Michael Jackson’s estate, however, is suing HBO over the documentary, saying it violates a non-disparagement clause from a 1992 contract. The complaint also describes the documentary as ‘a one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself’, The Guardian reports.
HBO have responded to the lawsuit from Jackson’s estate, saying their plans ‘remain unchanged’ to air the documentary, in order to ‘allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for the themselves’.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.