Lifetime’s controversial movie, “Aaliyah: Princess of R&B,” caused several related terms to trend on Twitter during its debut on Saturday night.
The trending topics included “#AaliyahMovie”; “Missy and Timbaland,” referring to Aaliyah’s longtime producing partners; “RKelly,” her producer and husband by a marriage that was later annulled; and Wendy Williams, the talk show host who joined the project as an executive producer amid controversy, among other terms.
The huge amount of social activity surrounding the movie is the good news for Lifetime. The bad news is that many of the tweets were harsh. At one point in the evening, “#LifetimeDisrespectsAaliyah” was a trending topic, for example.
The negative fan reviews are just the topper of a controversial journey for the biopic. Not only was Aaliyah’s family opposed to the movie, its first star, Disney Channel actress Zendaya Coleman, dropped out of the project amid controversy over her casting and her own personal issues over the production. That would be followed with further furor from fans when additional castings, particularly the movie’s choice for Aaliyah’s longtime producer Missy Elliott, led to accusations of “Hollywood colorism” and body bias.
Executive produced by Williams, Howard Braunstein and Debra Martin Chase, the two-hour movie is based on Christopher John Farley’s bestselling book “Aaliyah: More Than a Woman.” It charts Aaliyah’s life from the age of 10 when she appeared on “Star Search,” the path to her first album and R. Kelly, her meteoric rise and then to age 22 when she died in a plane crash in 2001.
Here’s a sample of the tweets that filled Twitter timelines while the movie aired:
— ⚢ prettyLADY. (@x_SMILEsoPRETTY) November 16, 2014
— Leezy (@mahalkitaliyah) November 16, 2014
— Gerrick D. Kennedy (@GerrickKennedy) November 16, 2014
Aaliyah movie got me like… pic.twitter.com/jLBsc7PUBB
— Toni Romiti (@__romiti) November 16, 2014
She's a legend , her movie shoulda been introduced in theaters
The only thing recognizable through out the whole movie is her one outfit in this scene. Smh #aaliyahmovie
— Paige Morton (@BrownSuga468) November 16, 2014
That poor wig & hat on Missy Elliot #AaliyahMovie
— The Root (@TheRoot) November 16, 2014
— Lisa Bolekaja (@LisaBolekaja) November 16, 2014
— ♥Kayonce♥ (@KaylaaaMariiee) November 16, 2014
The "we don't have rights to Aaliyah's music" struggle is entirely too real. SMH #AaliyahMovie
— VibeMagazine (@VibeMagazine) November 16, 2014
What are we watching? What are we watching? #AaliyahMovie
— Elon James White (@elonjames) November 16, 2014
— ♕'Lissa Jay♕ (@LissaJay_) November 16, 2014
I see why Zendaya didn't want to play this role #LifetimeDisrespectsAaliyah these type of roles can ruin a career.
— im my own category (@umaPARRR_taye) November 16, 2014
This Aaliyah movie need to dust itself off & try again
I'm about to write a 4 Page Letter to @WendyWilliams about this Aaliyah movie.
— N. Gerald (@NateTheFuture) November 16, 2014
— Shai (@BombshellShai_) November 16, 2014
Aaliyah looking down at is movie like
— Angie E. Morris (@TheMBAMoms) November 16, 2014
I mean this w/ no disrespect intended this is just my personal opinion, but that #AaliyahMovie was just a complete waste of 2hrs
— Father Potent (@JAE_MILLZ) November 16, 2014