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Stop whitewashing Michael Jackson

Joseph+Fiennes+portrays+Michael+Jackson+in+a+now+cancelled+episode+of+Sky+Art%E2%80%99s+produced+TV+series%2C+%E2%80%98Urban+Myths.%E2%80%99+Photo+courtesy+of+Sky+Arts.
Joseph Fiennes portrays Michael Jackson in a now cancelled episode of Sky Art’s produced TV series, ‘Urban Myths.’ Photo courtesy of Sky Arts.

Joseph Fiennes portrays Michael Jackson in a now cancelled episode of Sky Art’s produced TV series, ‘Urban Myths.’ Photo courtesy of Sky Arts.

Joseph Fiennes portrays Michael Jackson in a now cancelled episode of Sky Art’s produced TV series, ‘Urban Myths.’ Photo courtesy of Sky Arts.

Maddison Poteet, Contributing Writer

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Stop whitewashing Michael Jackson.

Okay, but you say, “didn’t he literally whitewash himself?” And I hear you, with the whole skin bleaching, he-sculpted-his-face-to-have-white-features thing. But that does not give you, me, or some producer the authority to disregard his race.

If you have been out of the Twitter-verse for a while, you may not know that the world is raging over white actor Joseph Fiennes being cast to play Michael Jackson in a now-cancelled short film. The TV movie was set to depict an urban legend portraying Jackson, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor fleeing New York in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Coming right off the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Sky Art’s decision to cast the British lad Fiennes to play Jackson has caused mass uproar, and for good reason.

The King of Pop was a black man. His skin condition, vitiligo, caused him to lose pigmentation in his skin resulting in blotchy white patches. The details of his visual evolution are and will remain cryptic to us.

Race, heritage, and culture transcend the pigmentation in one’s skin. The entertainment industry lacks diversity and opportunity for minorities as it is. Let’s not take one of the most prominent and loved black cultural icons and whitewash him.

Fiennes defended his casting saying in an interview with AFPTV saying, “I was shocked that they would come to me…” He later told Entertainment Tonight, “(Jackson) definitely had an issue – a pigmentation issue – and that’s something I do believe.”

Paris Jackson, 18-year old daughter of Michael Jackson, tweeted that she was “so incredibly offended by it” saying “it honestly makes me want to vomit.”

In the end, the only true authority is the man himself. While we can only speculate on his feelings as of late, an interview with Oprah from 1993 addresses the issue. Winfrey pressed the King of Pop on rumors that he wanted a white child to play a younger version of himself in a commercial.

“That is so stupid,” he commented, “That’s the most ridiculous, horrifying story I’ve ever heard.” He continued, “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.”

You can watch the interview in its entirety here: https://youtu.be/BbItFJJPPmA

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Stop whitewashing Michael Jackson