Remember when Noah’s screenwriter explained that everyone in his movie was white because it was “mythical,” and because white people are apparently universal stand-ins for the human race?
Yes, it was a pretty weak excuse. But Exodus: Gods and Kings looks a lot worse, since it actually is set during a specific historical time period, and yet still includes an impressive number of white American and British actors playing Egyptian and Israelite characters.
Directed by Ridley Scott, Exodus: Gods and Kings stars Christian Bale as Moses, Joel Edgerton as Rhamses, and Aaron Paul as Joshua. John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver have supporting roles as Seti and Tuya, another king and queen of Egypt.The A.V. Club has already described Exodus as “a whitewashed Prince of Egypt,” and many film fans are pointing out that in 2014, there is really no excuse for this type of casting.
Disclaimer: I fucking love Christian Bale.
But this pisses me off a LOT.
I had not actually seen the trailer for Exodus. All I knew before I saw this post was something about a biblical story, and then I read this, and I just got so angry I had to retort.
Look, you could make an argument that Christian Bale is such an incredible actor that it doesn’t matter that he isn’t a person of color. He really is that good. I mean, did you see The Fighter? He’s phenomenal. There isn’t a role on the planet he couldn’t play because he is just that dedicated to giving an incredible performance.
But I don’t believe for a second that this is okay because there is no way in HELL the director/casting director/producers couldn’t have found an Egyptian man who could act just as powerfully and who would be historically and culturally accurate. This is unacceptable and I agree that for once, we do need to speak up. I tend to think people overreact when it comes to race relations in movies sometimes, but this is the most blatant example of white washing since The Last Airbender.
Hell, even the animated film, The Prince of Egypt, did a better casting job than this. Yes, we did have majority white actors, but the difference here is that they did NOT whitewash the animated characters on the screen. All of them were dark-skinned and dark-haired and their outfits and way of life resembled what we’ve seen on the history channel and in history books, even if it wasn’t 100% accurate. Prince of Egypt made the fucking effort to represent Egyptian culture the way we think it was back then and it followed the Bible story rather well.
Exodus has no excuses. This is just pure laziness topped off with a total disregard for one of the most famous stories in the Bible that revolves around a persecuted people with an unwitting hero. There is no bones about it. Moses was not white. Moses was not even light-skinned. He was brown and so was everyone else in the story, and I cannot believe that it is 2014 and we still have to put up with this shit. I don’t care about star power. I could go on for DAYS about unknown actors who got one lucky break and became household names, so the filmmakers can’t excuse casting Bale as “using his star power” as their reason for not doing the fucking work and finding a man of color to portray Moses.
So yeah. Fuck this movie and fuck what it stands for. I still love Christian Bale as an actor, but I am deeply hurt he even agreed to let this happen, even for a starring role.
Mark your calendars, Hollywood. Once I’m done writing my novels, I am going into filmmaking and I am going to fucking make sure that there is diversity in every genre I care to write a script for or produce or direct. We deserve better than this and by God, we’re going to get better films than this even if I have to do it my fucking self.