British cable TV channel Sky Arts has cancelled an episode in its upcoming comedy series Urban Myths in response to public outrage over white actor Joseph Fiennes’ portrayal of pop legend Michael Jackson.
“We have taken the decision not to broadcast ‘Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon,’ a half-hour episode from the Sky Arts ‘Urban Myths’ series, in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”
The decision to cast Fiennes in the role of Michael Jackson was announced in January 2016, causing some outrage, but the public outcry intensified on Wednesday with the release of the Urban Myths trailer, which allowed viewers to catch a glimpse of Fiennes as Jackson. It has since been removed from YouTube.
— Fusion (@Fusion) January 13, 2017
The hashtag #whitewash exploded on social media, and many outraged users recalled the late Michael Jackson’s interview with Oprah in which he said the thought of a white actor portraying him on screen was “horrifying.”
The pop star’s daughter, Paris Jackson, spoke out in response to the recent backlash, calling the portrayal “shameful” after watching the Urban Myths trailer. “I’m so incredibly offended by it, as i’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit,” she wrote on Twitter.
Paris reacted positively to the news that the episode would be cancelled. “I’m surprised the family’s feelings were actually taken into consideration for once, we all really do appreciate it more than y’all know,” she tweeted.
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