The decision follows the controversy of ‘Leaving Neverland’
The episode Stark Raving Dad featuring Jackson as the voice of Leon Kompowsky – a psychiatric hospital patient who ends up sharing a room with Homer Simpson. The white, overweight Kompowsky tries to convince Homer that he is the late King of Pop, and is even seen singing ‘Billie Jean’ and showing off his legendary moonwalk dance moves. The episode ends with Kompowsky helping Bart compose a song as a birthday present to Lisa, before admitting that he knows he isn’t really Michael Jackson.
In the wake of the increased controversy surrounding the allegations of sexual abuse levelled against Jackson following the divisive documentary Leaving Neverland, it was announced earlier this year that the 1991 episode would be taken off the off and pulled from broadcast rotation – with showrunner Al Jean going as far to say that the late singer used his cameo “to groom young boys”.
Now, the opening episode of season three is not available with the rest of The Simpsons episodes on Disney’s new streaming service.
A number of fans have taken to Twitter to react to the news of the episode not being available:
“The guys I work with– where we all spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this,” said Simpsons producer James L Brooks of the decision to pull the episode from screens back in March.
“It feels clearly the only choice to make. The documentary gave evidence of monstrous behaviour. I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”
Brooks added: “This was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain.”
This comes after Simpsons fans took to social media to voice their anger over episodes appearing in a different aspect ratio on screens. Disney+ has stretched episodes from the first 20 seasons into the widescreen 16:9 ratio, which means that details on the edges of shot – and a large number of visual gags – in the originals are often being cropped out.
Leaving Neverland focuses on testimony by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who both claim that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. Michael Jackson denied any wrongdoing before his death in 2009, and his estate continue to defend him against allegations of sexual abuse.