While Us has been a massively successful film, some have noted that it includes Michael Jackson references despite the sexual assault allegations against the singer that were detailed in the recent Leaving Neverland documentary.
Please Note: Possible Spoilers for Us Ahead
The most prominent reference to the singer is in the opening of the film when a young girl — Lupita Nyong’o's character as a child — is wearing a Thriller t-shirt that she chooses as a prize at a carnival.
There are also some fans who think that the doppelganger character's outfits, which feature red jumpsuits with one glove, are also references to the controversial pop music icon.
Peele, however has explained that the use of Jackson imagery is more about "tone" than anything.
While speaking to Variety, the writer/director was asked if the references to Jackson caused any issues between him and the studio, to which he replied, “No, we start in the eighties and it’s an image of well documented duality and the film is about duality,” later adding that this reference is, “a tone-setter, and I think it sets a chilling tone, but one of much duality.”
“This movie is about the fact that we are our own worst enemy,” he continued.
It is notable as well, that while sexual assault allegations against Jackson have been prevalent for many years, Us was written and in production long before the Leaving Neverland documentary ever screened for audiences.
Additionally, the Jackson references in the film take place in a time that is designated as the mid-80s, which was an era wherein Jackson was dubbed the King of Pop. This was many years prior to the sexual assault allegations that surfaced against the "Man in the Mirror" singer.
Leaving Neverland premiered at the Sundance film festival in January, and then aired in two parts on HBO earlier this month.
Following the film's first screening, Jackson's estate came out to blast the film as "a tabloid character assassination" of the late singer.
In response, the film's director — Dan Reed — responded by saying, "It is a four-hour documentary by an experienced documentarian with a long track record in investigation and telling complex stories and this is a complex story. So I'd say it's beyond doubt a documentary. Anyone with any knowledge of that form would recognize a documentary."
"A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid? I didn't characterize Jackson at all in the film — I think if you watch it you'll have noticed that it's a story about these two families and Jackson is an element of that story. But I don't seek to characterize him at all. I don't comment on Jackson. It's not a film about Michael. ... The film itself is an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life," Reed added.
Us is currently playing in theaters, and Leaving Neverland is available on HBO's streaming services for users to view.