Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gods of Egypt? Not Exactly...

Russell Crowe as Noah. Christian Bale as Moses – a man who supposedly married an African woman, and could pass for an Egyptian, i.e. a person of brown hue. We've seen this song & dance before. Remember “Cleopatra”, with Elizabeth Taylor in the title role? Why wasn't a woman of color cast? What continent is Egypt on again?

From “The Ten Commandments”, and other biblical films of the 20th Century, to animated features like “The Prince of Egypt”, the powers that make-believe in hollywood have demonstrated time and again, a dogged determination to portray all revered historical, mythical, and cultural figures as Anglo-Saxon – and as far from “Black” – as possible. When it comes to mainstream cinema, accurate depictions typically take a back seat to stroking the status quo. This has never been more pronounced, than it is with the upcoming 2016 film “Gods of Egypt”.

(Ever notice how both hollywood & "his-story” tend to repeat themselves?)

Like the animated feature “The Prince of Egypt” that preceded it, the lead roles are occupied by Caucasian, or non-African actors. The fact that this has happened so many times before, with little-to-no backlash as a result, indicates how deeply we've been conditioned to accept a universally “white world”. How many of the men and women playing these “gods” could actually live under the intense African Sun, and remain healthy?

(This man was cast to portray “Ra”. Maybe I'm alone here, but when I look at him, I don't think “Sun God”.)

From Ruby Hamad: “Ever since D.W. Griffith's 1915 silent epic Birth of a Nation, non-white characters in films have often been played by white people in blackface (or yellowface or brownface) or left out altogether...

...It seems we have become so accustomed to depictions of biblical figures as white, that such blatant whitewashing barely even registers...

...But whitewashing isn't reserved for historical epics. Real people whose stories are considered extraordinary enough to bring to the big screen are finding their race erased also. Connelly also starred opposite Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, based on real couple John and Alicia Nash. Only the real Alicia Nash was not white but from El Salvador.” (Source)

Consider: what roles were people of color given in “Exodus: Gods and Kings”, releasing later this year? Minor, malevolent ones: thieves, assassins, servants, and peasants. 

(Having “déjà vu” yet?)

This is the power of film and media. As visual propaganda, it has the potential to influence perceptions, and alter an entire group of people's view of reality...and themselves. This is serious. Would a Chinese family watch a film based on the life of Chairman Mao, with him played by Will Ferrell? Would most American women accept a Joan of Arc played by Meagan Good? How about “Goddesses of Greece”, starring Sanaa Lathan, and Angela Bassett?

And yet: when “Passion of the Christ” was released, what was heard? “It doesn't matter what color Christ was.” Apparently it does, since every hollywood rendition of him opposes the physical description given by the very book where one learns of Christ. (This goes for many churches too, as most popular images of Christ today still favor portraits of Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI.)

At the same time, let Warner Bros. try to release a new Batman trilogy starring Don Cheadle as Bruce Wayne, or Morris Chestnut as Superman, and everyone will start screaming. And these are characters from comics! This double standard is by design, not accident. Hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into each major blockbuster; nothing is by accident.

It would be foolish for us to downplay the impact of “entertainment” (North Korea certainly isn't taking it lightly). Those who control imagery, mold thinking. “One-sided” films such as Exodus & Gods of Egypt subliminally suggest that only Europeans made – and make – significant, positive contributions to civilization. When the psychological implications are considered, it seems wise for all people – particularly people of color – to cease giving their time, attention & money to support such films, so long as they refuse to portray real people, places, and events, with validity and integrity.

You can read more by visiting this petition on

(I'm not suggesting signing the petition. No need. Just stop patronizing the lies, by not watching! If money's what runs this industry, let's see what happens when we stop giving it away indiscriminately.)

No comments:

Post a Comment