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“I wholeheartedly apologise to everyone”: Producer Joey McFarland Explains Bringing Photo of Enslaved Man to ‘Emancipation’ Premiere, Issues Apology While Movie Struggles to Overcome Will Smith’s Oscar Controversy

Will Smith’s latest project Emancipation was under scrutiny for fair reasons. It is his first film since the Chris Rock slapgate row and quite a lot of people suspected that choosing a sensitive topic like slavery could possibly be Oscar ‘bait’ to redeem himself. However, he is not the only person involved in the film who is now facing the public’s ire. The producer of the film, Joey McFarland garnered quite a bit of backlash for bringing the original photo of the enslaved man, Gordon, whom the film is about. And the hate got so out of hand that McFarland had to issue a public apology.

Joey McFarland brought an original photo of ‘Whipped Peter’ during Emancipation premiere

Joey McFarland showcasing the picture of enslaved man in the premiere of Emancipation starring Will Smith
Joey McFarland showcasing the picture of ‘Whipped Peter’ at the premiere of Emancipation

Set in the American Civil War era, Emancipation is a film about Gordon, who came to be known as ‘Whipped Peter’ played by Will Smith, who tries to escape through the swamps of Louisiana to save his life from the plantation owner that nearly killed him.

While walking the red carpet for the film at the Regency Village Theatre, Joey McFarland, the producer was quite glad to display an original photo of ‘Whipped Peter’ that he had brought with him to the premiere. The picture itself was that of Gordon being fitted for the Union Army uniform. The scars visible on his back was a testament to how brutish slavery was.

McFarland told Variety while on the Red Carpet,

“I have the photo. This is the original photograph from 1863. I wanted it to be here tonight. I wanted a piece of Peter to be here tonight. 

Sadly to say, so many artifacts and photographs have not been preserved or curated or respected. And I took it upon myself to curate and build a collection for future generations.”

However, this didn’t sit right with a lot of people who took to social media to express their disappointment and rage.

Also Read: After Chris Rock Oscars Slap, Will Smith May Bid Goodbye to Hollywood Career as His Only Movie ‘Emancipation’ Faces Fan Outrage for Showing Enslaved Man at Premiere Night

Joey McFarland issues public apology after being schooled by Twitter

Will Smith in Emancipation
Will Smith in Emancipation

Twitter decided to school McFarland about the nuances of ‘owning’ slave memorabilia that ought to be public property for everyone to access.

The collective rage on social media had McFarland down on his knees, he took to Instagram to formally apologize and rest his case.

The beginning of his Instagram message read,

“I wholeheartedly apologize to everyone I have offended by bringing a photograph of Peter to the Emancipation premiere. My intent was to honor this remarkable man and to remind the general public that his image not only brought about change in 1863 but still resonates and promotes change today.”

The 50-year-old expressed that he was hopeful that this debacle did not distract the audiences from the film’s intended message, “Peter’s story and just how much impact he had on the world.”

Joey McFarland's Instagram apology
Joey McFarland’s Instagram apology

Also Read: “Getting called the N-word 100 times a day by really good actors”: Will Smith Claims Filming Emancipation Was Really Tough as Actor Desperately Tries to Make Amends to Get Back into the Academy

He further wrote addressing the accusations of hoarding slave memorabilia, instead of donating them.

“Throughout the research and development of Emancipation, I discovered photographs of overlooked and historically important individuals whose stories also needed to be told. One photograph, of Martin Delaney, is on loan to the National Portrait Gallery and currently on exhibit.”

He continued in his message by claiming that his original goal was always to donate the artifacts and that is what he is going to do henceforth.

“My plan was always to donate the photographs to the appropriate institution, in consultation with the community, and I there is no better time to begin that process than now.”

It remains to be seen how well Twitterati shall accept this apology. Most of it would depend on how soon the producer starts the donation process.

Emancipation has been released in select theatres and will start streaming on Apple TV+ on December 9.

Also Read: “She could not get over the look of the film and how it felt”: Will Smith Claims Rihanna Loved His Movie ‘Emancipation’ Amidst Fan Backlash of ‘Oscar-Bait’ Slavery Movie to Win Back Academy Favors

Source: Daily Mail

Smriti Sneh
Smriti Sneh

Smriti Sneh is a Content Writer at Animated Times specializing in celebrities and everything pop-culture. Being a literature graduate from the University of Lucknow, she is cashing in on her writing skills by working in the entertainment news sector - studying literary theories by day, and navigating celebrity net worths through the night. Although you can find her writing poems at any and all hours.

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