Presented without comment. Because I got nothin’
In any serious film involving a depiction of Jackson spanning several decades (or just covering his late-’80s period from Bad on), the question of whether you cast a black or white actor (or both) to play the part seems like a legitimate thing to ponder. After all, Jackson himself embraced his ever-morphing physical appearance both in life and in his music videos, and so taking creative liberties for a movie about him shouldn’t seem totally out of line, right?
The answer to that question, dear casting director, should be obvious: Nope, you don’t cast a white actor to play Michael Jackson—you get a black guy to play him, because MJ was black even when he was “white.” Just because our relationship and understanding of him evolved as his persona became more feminine and his skin tone more pale, that doesn’t mean he was a fundamentally different person—he was still the same guy who donned a wildly amazing ’fro on the cover of Off the Wall, the same dynamic superstar who had to fight to get his music videos played on MTV in the early ’80s because they were reluctant to play black artists at the time. Even long after he had made his physical transformation and black people accused him of racial self-hatred, he was still a guy who spoke unabashedly about how poorly the music industry has treated black artists in comparison to white ones. And even more obviously, you don’t cast a white actor to play Michael Jackson, because you’ve learned from the years of Hollywood whitewashing leading all the way up to last year, when Emma Stone was cast as an Asian character in Aloha.