Yesterday we got the first trailer for Urban Myths, a British TV comedy that takes “a slightly tongue in cheek, mischievous — and deliberately ambiguous — look at what might have happened” in the context of various pop-culture folk yarns. It’s otherwise known as the thing that Joseph Fiennes was cast in to play Michael Jackson. The first look at the intentionally strange anthology program from Sky Arts hit its most discomfiting note when Fiennes pops up onscreen as Jackson, outfitted with an extra-grotesque facial prosthesis that seems to intentionally caricature how the pop icon actually looked. As was inevitable, Jackson family members have since seen the clip, and his daughter, Paris, and nephew, Taj, have both voiced their strong displeasure with it via Twitter.
@TheMJCast 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.— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) January 11, 2017
@TheMJCast it angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother liz as well— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) January 11, 2017
@TheMJCast where is the respect? they worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. shameful portrayal— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) January 11, 2017
Fiennes has directly addressed questions regarding his decision to play Jackson, telling The Hollywood Reporter in February of last year that Urban Myths is “not a biopic,” that he “wrangled” with whether or not to take the part, and that we need a “fair playing field” for performers of all races and have to “entertain colorblind casting at all levels." To the Jackson family, he also wanted to express that he “fell in love” with the performer all over again during the course of playing the part, but based on the reactions of Paris and Taj, it seems Fiennes’s comments fell short of comforting.