The Simpsons showrunner Al Jean believes one of the series' episodes was used by Michael Jackson to groom young boys for sexual abuse.
Jackson's past has been pulled into the limelight again thanks to the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which explores the singer's sexual abuse allegations. Jean believes Season 3 premiere episode "Stark Raving Dad" was used as a grooming tool by the singer, which has resulted in the show pulling the episode.
"It wasn't something that makes me happy. It's something I agree with completely," Jean told The Daily Beast. "What saddens me is, if you watch that documentary -- which I did, and several of us here did -- and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we'd intended it."
In the 1991 episode, Jackson secretly played a mental patient that left an institution and befriended the Simpsons, even staying in their home. He also composed "Happy Birthday Lisa" for the episode, which focused on Bart showing his sister love for her birthday. The rest of Springfield became obsessed with the celebrity, not realizing he was an impostor and not the King of Pop. Jackson had contacted creator Matt Groening to be included, as he was a fan of the show during the heights of his popularity.
"It wasn't just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it’s why I think removing it is appropriate. I lose a little bit of money financially, it's not something that's great personally to lose one of the most successful things I ever did, but I totally think it’s the right move," Jean added. "I don't believe in going through and making judgments on every guest star and saying 'this one was bad, that one was bad,' but the episode itself has a false purpose, and that's what I object to about it now."
When pressed about this false purpose, Jean said, "I think it was part of what he used to groom boys. I really don't know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that's what I think. And that makes me very, very sad."
The Simpsons, currently in a record-setting thirtieth season, airs new episodes Sunday nights on Fox.