In a comedy that will soon appear on the British channel Sky Arts titled, "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon,” a white British actor, Joseph Fiennes, will play the part of Michael Jackson. The comedy has at its theme a road trip in which Jackson, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor took as they tried to get home after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from New York to Los Angeles. Although the Jackson family has denied that such a trip happened, Vanity Fair however reported that one of Jackson's former employees did affirmed that the said trip actually took place. The source confirmed that the trio did head out driving cross-country, but got as far as Ohio.  They had to complete the rest of the journey to Los Angeles using airplane after they have ditched the car.

But whether the said trip happened or not is not the main debate, the issue is why should a white actor be casted as Michael Jackson? Does it mean that black actors are not there or is it that Michael Jackson was not a black American enough?

Jackson knew that one day, the authenticity of him being a true black American would be called to question.  And so in 1993 when the rumour that he had wanted a white child to play his younger self in a Pepsi advert came up, Jackson refuted it in an interview he granted to Oprah Winfrey by saying, "That is so stupid. That's the most ridiculous, horrifying story I've ever heard. It's crazy."

He went on to explain that he forever longed to be true to his black identity when he said, “It's my face as a child in the commercial, me when I was little. Why would I want a white child to play me? I'm a black American. I'm a black American. I'm proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.  That's like you [Oprah] wanting an oriental person to play you as a child. Does that make sense? Please people stop believing these horrifying stories."

But was this Jackson’s wish a reason enough for him to be seen as a true black American? I doubt that. For the mere fact that the authenticity of his blackness was even questioned raised a concern.

 Joseph Fiennes, the white actor popular known for his role in Shakespeare in Love, who had been set to cast as Jackson in the comedy, "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon,” affirmed this fact that Jackson was more whitish instead of the blackness of his origin when he said in a response to his feeling playing Michael Jackson, ‘I’ m a white, middle class guy from London. I’m as shock as you may be.   But he was probably closer to my colour than his original colour’.

One could argue that Jackson’s body transformation wasn’t his fault because he was known to suffer from Vitiligo, a skin condition that manifested in one losing one’s portions of the skin pigment. But it is still a debate whether or not the bleaching cream which Jackson was accused of using was the thing that led to his skin condition. Dr. Halford Fairchild argued that Jackson and other African American celebrities would try "to look more like white people in order to get in films and on television". An evidence to this fact was the surgery Jackson had on his nose and lips to be thin like the white.

At the end of the day, the cast of  "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon,” may inwardly be fulfilling the innermost desire of Michael Jackson whose action showed that he wanted to be white more than being a black man.

Published by Ezeiyoke Peter