Pity Ridley Scott. The celebrated director at the helm of Exodus: Gods and Kings has, by dint of semi-glowing early reviews, created a magisterial swords and sandals epic based on the biblical story of the great prophet Moses, who helps deliver the Hebrews from the Egyptian pharaoh’s clutches.
In the event you haven’t already heard, and as one might already suspect, the cast is almost all Anglo-American. That development has all but overshadowed the merits of the $140 million vehicle, a decision which Scott himself has defended by telling his critics (and this is a direct quote), to “get a life.”
The director isn’t alone. None other than the boss of 21st Century Fox himself and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson –using some rather colorful language in the process – took pains to dismiss the controversy. Of course Rupert Murdoch does what you’d expect a mogul would do in this instance — namely, defending a potentially lucrative movie. However, in some respects, 50 Cent’s broadside to an Instagram follower is more surprising. Does he have a point?
Yes — and no. As Variety recently underscored in a review, Gods and Kings is a continuation of Hollywood’s “dubious tradition” of using Caucasian actors in movies that take place in North Africa and the Middle East. In that regard, as one of the other books in The Old Testament would say, there’s nothing new under the sun. Depending on how seriously you take historical accuracy, moviegoers like Fitty are eminently free to vote with their wallets.
Still, Hollywood is rarely if ever shy about putting their brand of politics on display. Tinseltown loves to play up its coolness in the service of causes near and dear to the hearts of its denizens.
Except, of course, when filmmakers and actors pointedly refuse to make a statement when it really matters. For that reason, Exodus at least partly deserves the borderline savage reception that has preceded its December 12 opening.
The entertainment industry never misses an opportunity to revel in how hip it is, wallow in its political correctness, and accost those they believe aren’t as highly evolved as they are.
The casting of Exodus encapsulates this perfectly: director Ridley Scott shamelessly punted on the chance to cast characters directly correlated to a book’s source material. In this case, the book in question just happens to be The Bible.
Historically accurate casting wouldn’t be that hard to do, and it really isn’t that much to ask. Then again, perhaps it is, given that the new trend in movies is to use black actors as token replacementsfor well-established characters. In this way, movies bypass the time and effort required to develop an impressive stable of black characters that already exist in comics and books.
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