A classic episode of The Simpsons is being removed from circulation in the wake of allegations of child sexual abuse made against Michael Jackson in the documentary Leaving Neverland.
Jackson voiced a character and wrote a song for the 1991 season three premiere, entitled Stark Raving Dad, and now the show’s executive producer James L Brooks has said “it feels clearly the only choice to make” to withdraw the episode.
Brooks added that his fellow executive producers Matt Groening and Al Jean agreed with the decision. “The guys I work with – where we spend our lives arguing over jokes – were of one mind on this,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
In the episode, Jackson voiced a character called Leon Kompowsky who meets Homer Simpson in a mental institution and claims to be the King of Pop. Leon helps Bart celebrate his sister’s birthday by singing one of the show’s most famous songs, Happy Birthday Lisa, written by the pop star.
However Jackson didn’t actually sing on the episode – soundalike Kipp Lennon mimicked his voice for the song.
“This was a treasured episode,” said Brooks. “There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain.”
He added: “I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”
Since the broadcast of Leaving Neverland – a documentary in which Wade Robson and James Safechuck accuse the singer of sexually abusing them as children – a number of radio stations around the world have stopped playing his music.
Documentary maker Louis Theroux also tweeted his support for the two 90-minute films, saying: “If you can’t see that Michael Jackson was a paedophile after watching @danreed1000’s film you are being wilfully blind.”
Leaving Neverland, a Channel 4 and HBO co-production, has been denounced by The Michael Jackson Estate, which denies the allegations and is also suing HBO for $100 million over their alleged violation of a non-disparagement clause in a 1992 contract.