Streisand apologizes for remarks on Michael Jackson accusers

In this Dec. 14, 1986, file photo, singers Barbra Streisand and Michael Jackson attend the Scopus Awards of the American Friends of the Hebrew University ceremony in Los Angeles. (AP)
Updated 24 March 2019
0

Streisand apologizes for remarks on Michael Jackson accusers

  • Barbra Streisand wrote in that earlier statement: “To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone”

NEW YORK: Barbra Streisand apologized Saturday for her remarks about Michael Jackson and two men who have accused him of sexual abuse, saying that she should have chosen her words more carefully and that she admires the accusers for “speaking their truth.”
Streisand had received bitter criticism online after she was quoted in The Times of London as saying that Jackson’s accusers were “thrilled to be there” during the alleged abuse, which “didn’t kill them.”
After an initial statement Saturday to The Associated Press in which she sought to clarify her remarks, the superstar of song, stage and screen posted an apology online that went further.
“I am profoundly sorry for any pain or misunderstanding I caused by not choosing my words more carefully about Michael Jackson and his victims,” she wrote.
“I didn’t mean to dismiss the trauma these boys experienced in any way,” she wrote. “Like all survivors of sexual assault, they will have to carry this for the rest of their lives. I feel deep remorse and I hope that James and Wade know that I truly respect and admire them for speaking their truth.”
The apology went far beyond the earlier statement to the AP, in which she elaborated on her published remarks, saying she felt “nothing but sympathy” for the men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accuse the late star of molesting them as children.
She wrote in that earlier statement: “To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone.”
The remarks in question came deep into a wide-ranging interview with The Times. Asked about Jackson, Streisand was quoted as saying she “absolutely” believed Robson and Safechuck, who make their allegations in the recent HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
Jackson’s estate has condemned the HBO documentary. Jackson, who died in 2009, was found not guilty in 2005 of charges he molested a 13-year-old boy.
Streisand was asked about the documentary, which she called “too painful.”
She then said that Jackson, when she met him, was “very sweet, very childlike.” Asked how she reconciled that man with the one portrayed in the documentary, she replied: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say ‘molested,’ but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”
Among those firing back on social media was the director of “Leaving Neverland,” Dan Reed, who wrote of that last quote: “Did you really say that?!“
Asked by The Times whether she was angry at Jackson, Streisand said: “It’s a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him.”
Also attracting attention Saturday for remarks about Jackson was his close friend and mentor Diana Ross.
“This is what’s on my heart this morning,” Ross wrote on Twitter. “I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is A magnificent incredible force to me and to many others.”


Asian entertainment industries grappling with #MeToo issues

Updated 17 July 2019
0

Asian entertainment industries grappling with #MeToo issues

  • Asia is having its own #MeToo moment, with its homegrown entertainment industries grappling with many of the issues
  • “Nina Wu,” is the story of an actress who, in pursuit of a role that will lead to stardom, is abused and psychologically scarred by a man in power

When Wu Ke-xi was looking for a frightening plotline for her latest film, she didn’t need to look further than her own industry.
The Taiwanese actress and screenwriter’s latest movie, “Nina Wu,” is the story of an actress who, in pursuit of a role that will lead to stardom, is abused and psychologically scarred by a man in power.
Wu found herself closely following the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, and decided to write something for women affected by sexual assaults in the entertainment industry. Directed by Midi Z, it was selected to show at the Cannes Film Festival.
“After 2017, after the year the Harvey Weinstein stuff occurred, I read a lot of documents and interviews. I was so purely curious about what happened,” said Wu. She said she has been threatened in her career, but never sexually assaulted. “It’s still a humiliating experience,” she said.
“So I felt really connected to those women.”
Asia is having its own #MeToo moment, with its homegrown entertainment industries grappling with many of the issues that have upended entertainment careers in the United States and beyond.
Earlier this year, the K-pop scene was shaken when two male stars were accused of sexual misconduct in South Korea. Solo singer Jung Joon-young faced allegations he secretly filmed himself having sex with women and shared the footage on a mobile messenger app; he apologized to the victims. And Seungri, the youngest member of the quintet Big Bang, was accused of trying to steer sex services to business investors. He denied the charges and retired from the group.
Last year, in India, Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta came forward with details of a 2008 complaint she filed against actor Nana Parekar for alleged sexual harassment, which he denied. A flood of stories of sexual harassment and assault followed on social media from Indian actresses and writers.
Indian actor, singer and filmmaker Farhan Akhtar, a United Nations “He For She” ambassador with his own “Men Against Rape and Discrimination” initiative, says there is unease in the industry.
“Fear runs down the spine of everyone, thinking that, ‘Oh my God, maybe I’ve done something in the past that might come back to bite me,’” he said.
He encourages other women to come forward and speak out.
“Nobody can do it for her. Nobody can out her story and put her in a position that maybe she doesn’t want to be in,” he said. “But when she does, then it’s important that people rally around her so that she feels she’s done the right thing. And through her, through that conversation, and through her words she will hopefully inspire, motivate many more people to come out. And that’s the way the system will be cleaned.”
Screenwriter Zhou Xiaoxuan did speak out. She became a central figure in China’s #MeToo movement after an essay she wrote privately, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a TV star, went public on the social media platform Sina Weibo last summer. A prominent television host, Zhu Jun, sued her for defamation and Zhou followed with her own suit, for infringing on her personal rights. Women’s rights advocates in China are following the case.
Zhou says the movement has only reached so far in China, affecting mostly a group of high-profile, well-connected men.
“They were frightened by the #MeToo trend and they stopped. But most people in this society, they’ve never heard of #MeToo,” she said.
“I’ve actually been lucky because Zhu Jun is well-known,” Zhou said. “It’s extremely difficult for women who have been assaulted by their friends, colleagues or partners to seek legal recourse.”
Japanese TV journalist Shiori Ito said she experienced months of trolling and shaming after she revealed in May 2017 that she had been raped. That was before the #MeToo movement got under way in the United States.
“I’m very grateful to all the other women that have spoken up because I felt very lonely,” she said. She said she has felt a change in Japan and in her own family “who were really against me speaking up, and then they started saying, ‘You know what, maybe she’s right.’“
An emotional television interview with South Korean prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun in January 2018, in which she said she had been assaulted eight years earlier, is credited with starting the #MeToo movement there. Seo has since won a court case for abuse of power against her alleged assaulter. She said that watching women reveal their stories in Hollywood helped give her the courage to speak publicly. Supporters marched in the streets with candles and #WithYou banners.
“I told myself that, ‘Yes, this was not my fault and that I should not be ashamed at all,’” she said.
In Pakistan, dancer, theater director and activist Sheema Kermani is campaigning against sexual abuse, trying to make the movement there more than a moment.
“When actresses, big actresses, started calling out big names of actors for sexual harassment, I think it gave Pakistani women and women in media . the courage to speak out,” she said.
In Thailand, model and TV personality Cindy Sirinya Bishop launched the “Don’t Tell Me How To Dress” campaign after receiving a wave of support for a “social media rant” — her response to an article advising women not to wear sexy clothes for the Thai New Year in order to avoid sexual assault.
“It all started when that clip that I posted went viral overnight with the support of many, many women all over Thailand, chiming in, commenting, sharing and saying ‘Yes, this is exactly what we feel.’ Why are we always the ones that have to cover up, or why, when we are harassed or assaulted, is it somehow our fault?” she said.
Bishop also created an exhibition displaying clothing worn by sexual-assault victims. “We have university student outfits to toddler’s clothing to sweatpants and T-shirts,” she said.
She says her movement would have happened regardless of the stories arriving from America. But she adds: “In some way, the #MeToo movement has collectively empowered women without our knowing it, all over the world.”