Certain elements about his personal life and seclusion aside, it doesn’t take some genius to figure out how the world at large was in awe of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson; which is why the internet outrage was utterly palpable as far back as January of 2016, when British actor Joseph Fiennes was somehow cast as playing the celebrated artist from late in his life in a made-for-TV movie. A year has passed since that announcement and now a trailer of the TV film, repurposed into an installment of a British anthology drama series, has made its appearance online.

Needless to say, Jackson fans, friends, and family are absolutely livid.

Bad press for Fiennes’s MJ

In its original conception, the TV movie was called “Michael, Elizabeth, and Marlon”. It chronicles an apocryphal event which relates that Jackson and longtime friends Elizabeth Taylor (Stockard Channing) and Marlon Brando (Brian Cox) decided to go on a cross-country road trip from New York City. This was in the wake of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, due to the subsequent shutdown of airports across America for security reasons. The standalone film is rebranded as a part of the new Sky Arts anthology series “Urban Myths: A Brand New Collection of Comedies” with episodes of made-for-TV features dramatizing certain urban legends revolving around famous personalities.

Again, many people haven’t taken kindly to the casting choice of Fiennes as the King of Pop. Twitter posts on the “Urban Myths” have almost always been dripping pure acid regarding that, ranging from “heinous” to “disrespectful” and even wishes for the film to bomb in TV ratings. The Jackson family has joined in on the harsh criticism, with Michael’s daughter Paris Jackson tweeting that she was “offended” by Fiennes’ portrayal according to the trailer, and how it “made her want to vomit”.

His nephew Taj Jackson of the R&B/pop trio 3T remarked how their family has been “dealing” with a lot of “disrespect”.

Defending his ‘urban myth’ casting

Amid accusations of “whitewashing” Michael Jackson, Joseph Fiennes has noted on the role being a really sensitive subject and decided to approach it from a particular viewpoint in his acting.

He remarks that “Urban Myths” is not a historical biopic but a light-hearted comedy, and therefore his portrayal of Jackson shouldn’t be taken as serious factual material. Critics were not impressed, and counter-arguments about minority actors being praised for playing white characters (Hermione Granger being played on stage by a black British actress in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”) are pointedly ignored.

Other ‘urban myths

The Jackson/Taylor/Brando road trip is but one of many popular urban legends being given a treatment in “Urban Myths”. Later entries will look on vignettes about Bob Dylan, Samuel Beckett, and even Adolf Hitler. It will air January 19 on Sky Arts from British Sky Broadcasting.