It’s quite possible that no one would have heard of the show “Urban Myths” if the Sky Arts network’s series hadn’t cast white actor Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson. But once the trailer hit the web — showing Fiennes with some really terrible prosthetics — it went viral, and proved that all publicity isn’t necessarily good publicity.
Social media users were up in arms that a series airing in 2017 would cast a white actor as a black man.The late singer’s relatives were equally horrified. Daughter Paris tweeted that the portrayal made her sick.
Her cousin, Taj Jackson, also weighed in, saying he found the casting disrespectful.
As is the custom these days when something enrages the masses, a petition launched and thousands of people signed, vowing to boycott the series. But there’s no need, it turns out. Sky Arts has decided to pull the episode before it airs. It cited the concerns of Michael Jackson’s immediate family as the reason.
“We set out to take a lighthearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense,” the network said in a statement. “Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”
The episode was supposed to recreate the (maybe) true story of the time Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando and Michael Jackson took a road trip together. As the story goes, just after 9/11 when all air traffic was halted, the trio of stars were stuck on the East Coast with no way to make it home to Los Angeles, so they rented a car and took turns driving across the country. In the episode, Stockard Channing looks like she gives a fairly spot-on impersonation of Elizabeth Taylor, and Brian Cox plays Brando.
Now that the episode is shelved, perhaps social media users can move on to other things, like the fact that another of the episodes appears to take a jaunty approach to a story about Adolf Hitler as a young man.