Toria Sheffield
January 13, 2017 7:07 am
Sky Arts

If you’ve been following television news this week, you likely have caught wind of the backlash surrounding an episode of the British show Urban Myths. And we’ve just heard that the Urban Myths episode about Michael Jackson has been pulled from airing.

In case you missed it, Urban Myths is a show that features professional, tongue-in-cheek reenactments of  real-life celebrity folk lore. One episode in particular — based on a road trip rumored to have been taken by Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando when their tour bus broke down — has been the center of much controversy. The clip features Joseph Fiennes, a white actor, portraying Jackson.

In a world where white washing fictional characters of color still happens regularly (ugh), white washing an actual African-American man who really existed is obviously extremely offensive and not okay.

Not to mention, Jackson has living relatives who took major offense to the caricatures created within the episode. His daughter, Paris, tweeted:

In addition to the major cultural insensitivity, Paris Jackson was clearly not okay with the way her loved ones — who were living, breathing people with complex personalities and emotions — were reduced for the sake of the story.

Ultimately, the pressure (rightfully) mounted, and Sky Arts officially has pulled the episode.

We have to say, we honestly think that the creatives behind this should have known better. It’s 2017, and casting a white actor to play a non-white person should 100% be a thing of the past by this point. Not to mention, the people being portrayed all have living relatives who have the real possibility of being hurt by an inaccurate or one-dimensional depiction of their loved ones. So we’re glad that common sense and sensitivity (finally) prevailed.

Hopefully this will make film and television-makers think a little harder before embarking on projects of this nature, and these kind of offensive, insensitive incidents will become obsolete.

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