Ahhhh, the internet. Where sane people go to debate. However, not all people out there in the digital Wild West are as sane and level-headed as your average Outposter. It sometimes only takes the tiniest spark to turn the internet into a charnel house of craziness. Like an AI image purporting to be from an upcoming Netflix movie about MLK.

Some internet prankster whipped up an AI image of Tom Hanks as Martin Luther King Jr, complete with a backstory that he was seemingly portraying the role of the civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. in an upcoming Netflix biopic. The Internet, predictably, had some kind of seizure.


It was on the platform formerly known as Twitter, where the most well-balanced commentators are to be found, that the image started to circulate and the feedback became somewhat excitable. The claims were made that Steven Spielberg was behind the movie and it was a passion project and that after Saving Private Ryan and Catch Me If You Can there was only one man he would cast.

Objections to blackface, and a white actor portraying one of the most influential black personalities in history, were as you would expect.


One of the most notable elements of this whole hoax and reaction is simply how ready to believe this many online observers were. After all, the push for colorblind casting, and all the associated shenanigans around that have been long and noisy. Ed Skrein was forced to leave the Hellboy reboot after an outcry over his casting in a role that was Asian in the comics, but the cries for Idris Elba as James Bond never cease. Would Eric Stoltz be cast as the new Shaft without comment?

Online fact-checkers were deployed:

And still, the hits kept on coming:



However, Shaft, James Bond, and comic book characters… these are just fictional characters. If this wasn’t a hoax then surely race-swapping historical figures like this would be simply a step too far, right?




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