Lifetime, the network behind Aaliyah: Princess of R&B, came under fire over the weekend from fans of the late artist as well as rapper/producer Timbaland, who called the film, which premiered Saturday night, “bullsh*t.”
“Hope yall not watching this!!!!!!” Timbaland wrote on his Instagram page, alongside a picture of the film’s poster.
The producer was a friend and collaborator of the late artist, who was just 22-years-old when she died in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001. According to Us Weekly, Timbaland continued to post messages attacking the film on his Instagram and Twitter pages throughout the film’s premiere, at one point calling it “that bullsh*t Aaliyah movie.”
“A lot of people keep asking me, am I watching this bullsh*t?” he asked in a video posted to his page. “Evidently not. No way. Not Timbo.”
Among Timbaland’s other barbs at the film was an Instagram picture of Wendy Williams, the film’s producer, with the line, ‘Wendy Williams, you know you f**ked up right?” Timbaland also posted an image of Will Smith’s character in the film Men in Black, holding up a memory-erasing device: “Everyone that watched the Aaliyah movie, look into the light.”
Timbaland was not the only one with negative things to say about the film’s rollout; according to TheWrap, viewers who tuned in during the film’s Saturday night premiere slammed Lifetime for tweets sent out during the film that allegedly “romanticized” the late singer’s illegal relationship with rapper R. Kelly. Aaliyah secretly married Kelly in 1994, when she was just 15-years-old and he was 25. The marriage was later annulled.
“Are Aaliyah’s parents being unfair? #AaliyahMovie,” Lifetime asked in a tweet after the film portrayed Aaliyah’s parents demanding the singer end her relationship with R. Kelly.
“Is Aaliyah too young to know? #AaliyahMovie,” asked another tweet, along with a picture of the singer telling the R. Kelly character, “I believe we were made for each other.”
Both tweets have since been deleted.
“WHY ARE YOU ROMANTICIZING PEDOPHILIA?!” Miss Anne Dri replied to the network on Twitter.
When the network posted a photo of the R. Kelly character telling Aaliyah, “Girl, you lookin’ DOPE!” and asked fans to retweet if they agreed, a user named Kia replied, “With a molester grooming his victim?”
TheWrap notes that this is not the first controversy the film has dealt with; the late singer’s family reportedly wanted nothing to do with it, and the film’s casting choices have also raised questions about Hollywood’s problems with casting black actors.