An episode of The Simpsons featuring the voice of pop singer Michael Jackson is being pulled from circulation amid the fallout from HBO’s shocking Leaving Neverland documentary.
“I’m against book burning of any kind,” producer Jim Brooks told the The Wall Street Journal. “But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”
The 1991 Season 3 episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” has Homer sent to a mental institution after being mistaken for an anarchist. While confined, he befriends a hulking, gentle-voiced man who believes he’s Michael Jackson, before the fellow inmate finally admits he’s Leon Kompowsky, a bricklayer from Paterson, NJ.
After years of fan speculation, series creator Matt Groenig revealed that Jackson actually voiced Kompowsky. The voice credits went to a pseudonym, John Jay Smith. Even though Kompowsky sang a few Jackson numbers in the episode, Jackson was contractually bound not to sing, so a soundalike, Kipp Lennon of the band Venice, was used. Jackson did write the song “Happy Birthday Lisa” for the episode.
But that was a different time for Jackson. The airing of Leaving Neverland this week has sharply shifted perceptions of the pop singer, who survived a trial and years of innuendo and rumor surrounding his affinity for young children before dying in 2009 at age 50.
The HBO documentary shows two men who allege they were sexually abused by Jackson, convincing many who were on the fence surrounding whether the eccentric Jackson had committed the abuse. Some radio stations since have pulled his music, and a dramatic reassessment of his life is underway by many who knew and worked with him.