The daughter of Michael Jackson has said she is “incredibly offended” by the portrayal of her father in a new Sky Arts drama after a white actor was cast to play him.
Paris Jackson, 18, said images of Joseph Fiennes depicting the late music superstar and Stockard Channing as her godmother, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, made her want to “vomit”.
A petition has been signed by more than 20,000 people to boycott the upcoming TV movie, which is part of a series called Urban Myths that starts on January 19.
After images were published online showing Shakespeare In Love star Joseph as the King of Pop, Paris wrote on Twitter: “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.
“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.
“Where is the respect? They worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. Shameful portrayal.”
She added: “He made a point of it plenty of times to express his pride in his roots. He would never have wanted this.”
Urban Myths tells a collection of fabled tales including one about Jackson – who died in 2009 aged 50 – taking a road trip from New York to Los Angeles with Dame Elizabeth and Marlon Brando following the September 11 terror attacks.
The petition against the movie, which also stars Brian Cox as The Godfather star Marlon, was set up on the website Care 2.
It reads: “It’s easy to see why the story would make a compelling film – but it’s harder to understand why the actor best known for his role in Shakespeare In Love was the first choice to play one of the world’s most iconic black musicians.”
The petition describes how Michael suffered with skin condition vitiligo throughout his life, thereby causing the lightening of his skin.
The author of the petition, Julie Rodriguez, wrote: “This casting is an insult to the very real professional struggles and health issues Jackson dealt with during his lifetime.
“It’s bad enough when actors of colour are denied opportunities to play fictional characters of their own ethnicity due to the preferential treatment of white actors.
“But it’s absolutely inexcusable for a film to whitewash a movie based on an actual human being, whether his appearance was typical of what we expect a black man to look like or not.”
Ben Palmer, who directed four episodes of Urban Myths, has previously defended the casting of Joseph as Michael.
He told the Guardian: “We were casting Michael Jackson in 2001 and that obviously is a challenge in terms of the physical resemblance.
“We were really looking for the performance that could unlock the spirit, and we really think Joe Fiennes has done that. He’s given a really sweet, nuanced, characterful performance.”