For me, one of the most uncomfortable moments in Leaving Neverland—a documentary full of uncomfortable moments—comes early in Part 2, when Michael Jackson, trying to reingratiate himself with the Robsons so they will testify on his behalf, calls and leaves a voicemail in a fake Australian accent. It would be “noice” to see a “mewvie” “tamorroh noight,” he suggests. As an Australian living in the U.S., the chummy familiarity of this moment made my skin crawl. Jackson uses the same terrible, almost-Cockney accent in his message for the Australian Robsons that many of my American friends use on me. It’s a gentle and intimate ribbing, and it’s jarring to my ears to hear it coming from Jackson, both the weirdest and the most normal he has ever sounded. As phony accents go, it’s also just bad. Really, really bad.
Jackson’s fake accent aside, the documentary is full of real, rich Aussie accents, and there are many ways that being Australian plays into Wade Robson’s story.