What do you get when you take Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, and Michael Jackson and put them in a car headed toward Ohio? Did you answer “A strange 9/11 movie that’s going to upset a lot of black people?” Because if you did, you are right. And you have a very strange sense of humor.
In a complete back step to the discussion in Hollywood lately about creating black roles for black actors, black actors have been stripped of the opportunity to portray one of the most icon black musicians in the history of pop. White actor Joseph Fiennes has been cast to play Michael Jackson in a quirky road trip story that supposedly is a true story.
So, not only has the most iconic black musician been utterly white washed, he has been entirely discredited for who he is and what he accomplished in his lifetime. The issue many are seeing with this casting and with this movie being greenlit, is that although it’s “a true story”, it’s not Michael Jackson’s legacy. It is yet another story of black excellence that could be told by hundreds of actors of color, and it is untold by Hollywood. And now, before Michael’s fans and his global impact get the privilege of seeing his life in an inspirational, entertaining biopic, they have to settle for seeing him in a road trip comedy. And in this comedy, he is being. Played. By. A. White guy.
American Horror Story actor Joseph Fiennes said the role is a “challenge” and described the story as, “a story, possibly urban legend, whereby Michael, Marlon Brando, and Liz Taylor were all together the day before 9/11 doing a concert. Airspace was shut down and they couldn’t get out and Michael had the bright idea to go to hire a car and drive.”
Joseph, the role shouldn’t be a challenge because it’s a crazy story that could definitely wait to be told until after Michael is properly honored. The role should be difficult because you’re basically doing reverse black face. It’s no secret that Michael Jackson suffered an illness that destroys the pigmentation of his skin. Yes, while he was alive he was parodied by many white actors and comedians. But we should honor his memory by honoring his true heritage and not ignoring what so many people looked up to him for.
Look, if we can remove an entire nose from Ralph Fiennes’s face to play Voldemort, or do whatever the hell they did to Lupita Nyong’o in Star Wars, Hollywood can let a black guy play Michael Jackson.