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black or white

This white man is set to play Michael Jackson in a movie...

And the internet is not one bit happy. English actor Joseph Fiennes, of Shakespeare in Love fame, is set to play the King of Pop in a one-off Sky Arts drama.

2015 Sundance Film Festival - Strangerland Premiere AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images


Of course you do. He made a name for himself in the early late 1990s/early 2000s starring in films like Elizabeth, Enemy at the Gates and, most famously, Shakespeare in Love.

He’s been relatively quiet over the past few years save for notable roles in American Horror Story: Asylum and Hercules. His latest film role, however, is the talk of the internet.

The actor is set to star as none other than Michael Jackson in a one-off drama for Sky Arts.

Yes, this guy…

PBS 2015 Winter TCA AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Will play this guy.

Obit Michael Jackson AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images


The Guardian reports that the project follows a bizarre road trip undertaken by Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando following the 9/11 attacks. Stockard Channing and Brian Cox will play Taylor and Brando, respectively.

Fiennes’ casting has caused consternation on the internet.

For one thing, Joseph Fiennes is white.

And while Michael Jackson’s appearance did change over the years, he was still very much a black artist.

As Slate writes:

Nope, you don’t cast a white actor to play Michael Jackson—you get a black guy to play him, because MJ was black even when he was “white”. Just because our relationship and understanding of him evolved as his persona became more feminine and his skin tone more pale, that doesn’t mean he was a fundamentally different person…
But casting a white actor in the role is uninspired, an easy way to ignore just how complicated he really was. And if there’s anything Jackson taught us, it’s that nothing is so simple as black or white.

People were quick to point out how preposterous the whole thing is.

And, yes, people made Black Or White jokes.

Ha, ha, ha.

The whole thing looks especially bad when you place it in the context of #OscarsSoWhite.

(Earlier this week, it was announced that Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam will play Mexican-American drug lord Edgar Valdez Villareal in a forthcoming movie, prompting Vanity Fair to ask, “Have We Finally Reached a Breaking Point on Hollywood Whitewashing?)

Now people are calling for Hollywood to level the playing field.

Forest Whitaker to play Bob Dylan! Michael B. Jordan to play Kurt Cobain!

The internet’s advice? Don’t do it, Joseph.

Moonwalk away.

Written by Amy O’Connor and posted on

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