Oprah Winfrey has publicly thanked director Dan Reed for his documentary Leaving Neverland, saying the director communicated in “just four hours” a message she had been pushing for 25 years.
Winfrey is herself a survivor of childhood abuse and has long advocated for reform and exposure around the issue. In After Neverland – a follow-up special to the documentary – Winfrey says the issue is far bigger than the late pop star, and praises the accuracy of Reed’s depiction of the complexity of abuse.
The host sits down with Reed and accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck in front of an audience made up of over 100 sexual abuse survivors to flesh out the issue, and in the powerful discussion she pulls no punches.
“In 25 years of The Oprah Show, I taped 217 episodes on sexual abuse. I tried and tried to get the message across to people that sexual abuse was not just abuse, it was sexual seduction,” the TV host explained.
She believes Dan Reed has accomplished that. The director was “able to illustrate in these four hours what I tried to explain in 217” the TV host says.
The long-time advocate says the documentary’s portrayal of the extreme deceit and manipulation inflicted upon the boys and their families hits the nail on the head when it comes to the true nature of child abuse.
“Child sexual abuse; even the word ‘abuse’ lacks accuracy. I’ve been saying this for years,” explains Winfrey.
“As young boys, these two men did not feel it was abuse until much later. When you’re a child — this is the message I want every parent to hear — you don’t have the language to explain what is happening to you, because you’ve been seduced and entrapped.”
Robson concurs with the superstar, admitting he had ‘no idea’ that Jackson was abusing him at the time.
Winfrey is adamant that audiences must look beyond Michael Jackson, arguing a cultural reckoning has already begun and it must infiltrate every level of society if it is to work.
“It’s much bigger than any one person,” says Winfrey. “It’s a moment in time that allows us to see this societal corruption, this scourge on humanity. It’s happening right now in families, in churches, in schools and in sports teams everywhere.”
Oprah argues that despite this, the documentary is unarguably a powerful force for change.
“If it gets you to see how it happens, then some good will have come of it,” she says.
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