Michael Jackson once cited that he would be horrified at the idea of a white actor playing him on screen. Well, Jackson will be turning in his grave by now then, after news came out this month that a white 45-year-old British film and stage actor – Joseph Fiennes – has been cast to play the late ‘King of Pop’.
Jackson’s comments have been top of the talking points recently following outrage over Shakespeare in Love star Fiennes will be playing the American in the film for Sky Arts.
Back in 1993, Oprah Winfrey asked Jackson, who had a skin pigmentation disorder, about rumours that he wanted a white kid to play him in a Pepsi advert.
“That is so stupid”, he responded. “That’s the most ridiculous, horrifying story I’ve ever heard. It’s crazy. Why would I want a white child to play me? I’m a black American. I’m proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race”, he concluded.
There has obviously been social media war against and support for the chosen cast member. Wiltshire-born Fiennes has responded to it all saying, “I’m a white, middle-class guy from London. I’m as shocked as you may be. [Michael Jackson] definitely had an issue – a pigmentation issue. He was probably closer to my colour than his original colour”.
Other commentators have waded into the controversial argument, with Callie from Doncaster saying, “I don’t understand the problem. In 2001, when the show is set, Jackson was white-skinned. Wouldn’t having an African-American play him, be more confusing?”
Whilst Lara from London disagreed by saying, “I find it appalling that a white man would be hired to play Michael Jackson, one of the most influential black artists of all time. This constant whitewashing needs to end now. Black people need representation; white people don’t”.
Hatin from Bristol threw a new spanner in the works by citing whether the same people outraged by the idea of Fiennes playing Jackson, “were also outraged by the suggestion that Idris Elba should play James Bond?”
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