Outrageous Cover Ups

In Rome this week Italian masterpieces, including a life size Venus emerging from a bath and a statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback, were covered up in case the sight of a naked woman or a horse’s genitals offended the visiting Iranian President Rouhani. When in Rome do as you would at home, as the saying now goes. Poor old Rouhani can’t catch a break. He neither gets to enjoy a full-bodied Venus nor demonstrate his piety by averting his eyes. And he didn’t even ask for this (apparently). Of course he could have avoided having his photograph taken near a horse’s penis if that was indeed an issue. He has successfully evaded being captured near any women without headscarves. And they are even more common than rudey nudey masterpieces in the Italian capital. Personally, I think the powers that be are taking the piss. Rouhani looks ridiculous requiring a boarded up Venus and a boxed in horse’s penis. This was clearly the plan.On the subject of cover up Joseph Fiennes won’t need much to play Michael Jackson in an upcoming comedy, as “my skin pigmentation is pretty similar to his at the end” he actually said on Entertainment Tonight. But if anyone can make Michael look black it’s you, Joseph. It’s awkward timing. Following dismay that no black actors were nominated for Oscars again this year, various commentators have argued that the real problem is diversity in casting. But then it’s tricky, some explained, when so many biopics of white people are being made, for black actors to find the best parts. So how do you explain a white guy playing Michael Jackson, a black man? Has someone already run with the diversity in casting memo? Will Lupita Nyong’o play Elizabeth Taylor and Idris Elba tackle Marlon Brando? No. It’s being left to poor old Fiennes to show that race doesn’t matter. Only it does. This isn’t Gandhi circa 1983. When white guys won Oscars for playing non-white guys too. It’s 2016. This kind of casting decision makes all pretence of a level playing field absurd. I appreciate that actors find it hard to imagine anyone else playing a part as well as they can. But if casting directors refuse to show some imagination, they are going to have to.