In the illustrious words of Amy Winehouse, "What kind of fuckery is this?"
Early last year, news broke that white actor Joseph Fiennes would be portraying Michael Jackson in a British television dramedy called Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, about three celebrities escaping from New York City during 9/11. Needless to say, people were quite confused, and rightfully so. Even with the outrage that was expressed, Fiennes, of course, felt there shouldn't be any objection to his portraying Jackson.
“[Jackson] definitely had an issue—a pigmentation issue—and that’s something I do believe,” Fiennes said in January 2016. “He was probably closer to my color than his original color.”
The crazy thing about the series is not only that it involves an urban legend about Elizabeth Taylor, Jackson and Marlon Brando escaping New York City during 9/11, but that Fiennes didn't see anything wrong with the role.
“It’s important because all actors bring something fresh and new. We’re looking for imagination and interpretation, and it doesn’t steal anything away from the true identity of that person. It might offer something new and fresh and funny, as long as it doesn’t become disenfranchising, racial, or rude or stereotypical,” he said.
But when you take a good look at Fiennes as Jackson, there's a lot wrong:
Fiennes is a white man, born to a white man and woman.
Michael Jackson was a black man, born to a black man and woman.
Colorblind casting doesn't work when it comes to real-life people. One has to wonder why a black woman wasn't cast as Elizabeth Taylor if the creators of the show wanted to be so original about it.
Jackson, a person who went through a lot of aesthetic changes, also asserted that he was a black person and would never want a white person playing him. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey from 1993, Jackson spoke about the topic when rumors surfaced that a white child would play him in a commercial.
“It’s my face as a child in the commercial,” Jackson said. “Me when I was little. Why would I want a white child to play me? I’m a black American. I’m a black American. I’m proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. That’s like you [Oprah] wanting an Oriental person to play you as a child. Does that make sense?”
In any event, thank your lucky stars this isn't on American television.