Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings Controversy
A great deal of controversy has been brewing over the casting choice inRidley Scott’s latest film, Exodus: Gods and Kings.
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Obtained via Vox:
Wire Image/Cleopatra/Exodus: Gods and Kings/The Ten CommandmentsVarious actors and actresses who depict Egyptian royalty, ancient Egypt, or Moses
Hollywood is a sucker for a story about ancient Egypt. Movies like The Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, and even The Mummy prove it. Upcoming movies like Exodus and Gods of Egypt all but confirm it. Unfortunately though, those films have something in common aside from being about ancient Egypt — they show that Hollywood, tends to envision ancient Egyptians and ancient Egyptian royalty as white men and women (sometimes with copious amounts of bronzer splashed on).
The latest movie in Hollywood’s ongoing love affair with ancient Egypt is Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. Scott’s interpretation consists of Caucasian actors like Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Sigourney Weaver playing Moses and Egyptian royalty respectively. Black and non-white actors portray roles like “Egyptian lower class citizen” or “Egyptian thief.” And Aaron Paul plays Joshua, an Israelite who becomes Moses’s right-hand man.
The cast of Exodus is similar to another upcoming movie about ancient Egypt called Gods of Egypt. In that film, the likes of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones), Gerard Butler, and Geoffrey Rush play Egyptian gods, which sets up a weird dynamic of white actors representing ideals of and being worshipped by non-white people.
While these two films aren’t the only movies that have white-washed ancient Egypt, they’re maybe the most frustrating. We can chalk up things like Elizabeth Taylor playing a fair-skinned Cleopatra in the film of the same name to the year the movie was made in (1963). There’s no rule that says we have to follow the template and tendencies of casting directors 50 years ago. We should know better, yet it still happened and is still happening.