The Sky Arts channels screening of one-off TV show “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon,” centres around a road trip which Jackson and friends Elizabeth Taylor (played by Stockard Channing), and Marlon Brando (by Brian Cox) in a trip allegedly took from New York to Ohio in the wake of 9/11 in 2001. The show features a part of a series on unlikely stories from the history of arts and culture and may have the ability to shed light on a new dimension of the iconic artist unseen before.
However, the controversy surrounding the casting of Michael Jackson may have dominated the shows public perception, with the choice of casting white British actor Joseph Fiennes. At the wake of a current dialogue surrounding diversity that was generated by the nominees of the 2016 Oscars, this casting may have had the ability to raise awareness on the ethical nature of racial representation and may have contributed to an exploration of this topic further.
The nature of representing an artist, particularly a public figure such as Michael Jackson who may be considered at the end of his life as racially ambiguous, may engage audiences to looking into the complex identity of the star as well as his life behind the camera as an elusive and often intriguing character. The ability for Michael Jackson to have been represented as a successful black artist by a black actor may have been considered a pivotal step in inspiring and demonstrating ethnic diversity and equal representation on screen.
However, the comedic nature of the show may also be apparent as ‘Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon’ which is written by Neil Forsyth is directed by Ben Palmer. Palmer’s credits include ‘The Inbetweeners Movie’ and ‘Man Up.’ which may suggest the comedic approach the casting may have taken with the director having produced many tongue-in-cheek films thus far. However, the way in which representation and comedy may play hand in hand to capture alternative dimensions of the singer may be a constructive and expansive experience of an alternative perception of the star, with the ability to find light and entertainment in his public persona.
Due to the genre of comedy the show is presenting, controversy may be rooted in the nature in which the artist is presented as a white man, thus may contribute to a dialogue regarding the representation of ethnic minorities in film. This may have the ability to open up debates surrounding representation in film and art and the ways in which ethical dimensions may play a role in this. In turn, this dialogue explore the extent to which creative license is acceptable when representing a racial minority as well as also drawing to attention the social responsibility of art to its audiences. Michael Jackson’s representation may have created a sense of far from total understanding for audiences who identify with him as African American thus, feel he is falsely represented. However, it may also re-engage audiences to look into Michael Jackson’s racial ambiguity and further explore his desires behind often controversial cosmetic decisions.
The show may also have presented Michael Jackson as a national figure amidst a mark of strong national unity which took place post-9/11, presenting a new dimension of the artist as a figure of hope and strength amidst a time of solidarity and expresses Michael Jackson’s sense of charity, honour and integrity at a moving time in American history. Therefore perhaps the audience and general public may experience a rounder understanding of his actions away from the spotlight and the stage.
How may representing an artistic figure such as Michael Jackson in a new dimension engage audiences?