Last January, we shared with you the news that British actor Joseph Fiennes, who is very much a White man, was going to star as Michael Jackson in a new project. The response was a scathing “Hell no!” from most people, and yet, Fiennes seemed confident and comfortable about moving forward with his portrayal of the King of Pop.
“I deal in imagination, so I don’t think imagination should have rules stamped on them,” Fiennes told the Associated Press. “If it promotes stereotyping, then it’s wrong. I made a distinction that the Jackson project doesn’t do that.”
The project went forward and actually ended up being part of an eight-episode British dark comedy called Urban Myths, which probably makes this casting decision a little less offensive. I guess. The whole point of the series is to recreate comical rumored stories about well-known figures. In Fiennes’s episode, a story about Elizabeth Taylor (played by Stockard Channing), Marlon Brando (played by Brian Cox) and Michael Jackson taking a road trip out of New York after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 is recreated. We finally get a first look at the “Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon” episode in a trailer that also gives a glimpse into a few other rumored stories involving Adolf Hitler, Cary Grant, Bob Dylan and more. To say that the makeup is tragic would be an understatement, but I’m guessing that was the whole point: to make Jackson into a caricature.
If we can be honest, at this point, it should be clear that NO ONE can play Michael Jackson, even as a joke. Not a Black man (sorry, Flex), not a White man. Nobody.
Well, I take that back. The guy who played him as an adult in The Jacksons: An American Dream was pretty great — RIP Wylie Draper. But really, if it isn’t a documentary, I think we can all agree that it would be best to not even touch Jackson’s legacy. Every time people do, it’s terrible. And you just can’t unsee terrible. (Again, sorry, Flex.)
What do you think of the trailer and Fiennes’s portrayal of Jackson?
Image via WENN and YouTube