Fans had mixed reactions to the news that “The Simpsons” is pulling the Season 3 episode titled “Stark Raving Dad” due to the fact it features Michael Jackson. Now, longtime series showrunner Al Jean is sharing his thoughts on the matter as well as the nefarious way he believes Jackson used the guest role.
For those unfamiliar, the episode featured the voice of Jackson for a large bald man Homer meets in a mental institution with delusions of being the King of Pop. However, the episode has been pulled from syndication after the popular HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland” renewed public interest in the late singer’s various sexual misconduct and pedophilia allegations.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Jean noted that he’s personally unhappy about the loss of one of the more popular and well-known episodes, but noted that he agrees it’s the right move. He revealed he believes Jackson’s intentions for doing the episode seem suspicious in light of the documentary.
“It wasn’t something that makes me happy. It’s something I agree with completely. 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. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it’s why I think removing it is appropriate,” Jean told the outlet.
“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. 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 asked to elaborate, Jean pulled no punches. He explained that he feels Jackson may have used the episode to appeal to young boys, whom the show has notoriously been popular with.
“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,” Jean concluded.
His remarks echo those of James L. Brooks, an executive producer on “The Simpsons,” who announced that the episode would be pulled.
“The documentary gave evidence of monstrous behavior,” Brooks told the Wall Street Journal. “The guys I work with – where we spend our lives arguing over jokes – were of one mind on this. It feels clearly the only choice to make.”
This isn’t the first time that an episode of “The Simpsons” has been pulled due to its content becoming sensitive after the fact. The Season 9 episode “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” was yanked from syndication for several years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as a majority of the episode dealt with Homer’s car being stuck between the World Trade Center Twin Towers.