Oprah Winfrey praised Leaving Neverland in a hourlong after-show that followed the HBO documentary’s premiere, saying that the film — about two men who claim to have been sexually abused by Michael Jackson as children — accurately captures how childhood sexual abuse is “not just abuse” but “also sexual seduction.”
Titled Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland, Winfrey interviewed Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed along with Wade Robson and James Safechuck, whose allegations against the late pop star form the basis of Reed’s film. It was filmed before a studio audience composed of sexual abuse survivors and their loved ones. Before the interview began, Winfrey, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse herself, talked about why the film was important, however difficult it might be to watch.
“For me, this moment transcends Michael Jackson,” she said, per The Washington Post. “It is much bigger than any one person. This is a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption. [Childhood sexual abuse is] a scourge on humanity, and it’s happening right now. It’s happening in families…in churches, and in schools, and sports teams everywhere. So if it gets you, our audience, to see how it happens then some good would have come of it.”
Later in the interview, Winfrey asked her guests a number of difficult questions that her viewers might have been wondering at home — like, why Robson and Safechuck didn’t come forward sooner (“If I was to question Michael…it would mean I would have to question everything in my life”) and why Reed didn’t interview anyone from the Jackson family (“This is a film that’s not about Jackson. It’s about what happened to Wade and James.”) For more on Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland, head on over to The Washington Post.