The 1991 episode featuring the voice of Jackson recently was pulled from The Simpsons' archives following the allegations of child sexual abuse in HBO's Leaving Neverland
Following the explosive allegations of child sexual abuse surfaced in the bombshell HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, Jean, creator Matt Groening, and executive producer James L. Brooks collectively agreed to remove the episode from re-runs, streaming platforms, and upcoming DVD/Blu-ray box sets last week.
The episode was the first that Jean served as showrunner for so had held a special place in his heart but he explained that the decision was “the right move,” despite it being a personal milestone for him and losing out financially.
“It wasn’t something that makes me happy. It’s something I agree with completely,” Jean, 58, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “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.”
“It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool,” he explained, adding that, “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.”
Jackson’s episode of The Simpsons, called “Stark Raving Dad,” features him voicing character Leon Kompowsky who believes he is the singer. In it, Jackson’s character and Bart Simpson sing a birthday song to Lisa Simpson — which was penned by the singer — and features the lyrics, “I wish you better than your heart desires, and your first kiss from a boy.”
Though the episode aired two years before Jackson was publicly accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, Jean said watching it now brings on an entirely different meaning.
“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,” he said. “The episode itself has a false purpose, and that’s what I object to about it now.”
Leaving Neverland chronicles allegations from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who both claim Jackson befriended them when they were children and that their relationships quickly turned sexual.
Safechuck, who met Jackson when he was cast in the star’s 1986 Pepsi commercial, claims Jackson taught him how to masturbate, while Robson, who met Jackson when he was just 5 years old, says the star performed oral sex on him and kissed him.
“You and I were brought together by God. We were meant to be together,” Robson claims Jackson told him. “This is how we show love.”
Both men allege they were instructed by the star to cover their tracks, with Robson claiming Jackson told him they would “go to jail for the rest of our lives” if anyone found out about their alleged sexual encounters.
Jackson’s family has repeatedly denied all allegations put forth in Leaving Neverland, and said in a January statement the film was “another rehash of dated and discredited allegations,” calling it “yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
Two co-executors of the singer’s estate and Optimum Productions also sued HBO and its parent company, Time Warner, for $100 million in February, claiming that the network’s decision to air Leaving Neverland violated a non-disparagement clause, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, HBO responded: “Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland. … This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”
Meanwhile, since the two-part documentary film made its television premiere earlier this month on HBO, other Jackson boycotts have begun, including a decision by Canadian radio stations to delete Jackson’s songs from their rotation.
His music also saw a major decline with its sales and streaming in the week following the HBO documentary’s premiere, while Neverland Ranch, the 2,700-acre property where the pop star lived for 15 years has struggled to sell on the market.
Jackson purchased the home in 1987 for $19.5 million. It’s now co-owned by the singer’s estate and fund management company Colony Capital. It was listed for sale six years after his death for $100 million in 2015.
The price has since been lowered by 70 percent (or about $70 million) to $31 million. The most recent reduction comes amid the legal battle with the HBO filmmakers.
Jackson was 50 years old when he was found dead on June 25, 2009, in his L.A. mansion.