I was convinced that the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings was going to be the most offensive Egyptian based story interpretation to come out of Hollywood for the rest of my lifetime. I felt secure in knowing that it couldn’t possibly get worse.
In 2016, Lionsgate Entertainment will be releasing a new film, Gods of Egypt. It just got worse.
The premise of the movie is not as grand as it’s title. Essentially it’s a fantasy film wherein the ancient Egyptian gods lives amongst the mortals. After an epic and very shiny battle which can be seen in the trailer, Horus loses his eye and Set decides to go all rogue and mess with the mortals because bored god, why not? Shenanigans ensue, mortals try to save the day, love interest, theft, epic god battle. That’s the whole movie in a nutshell.
What the hell is this?
I’ll take total whitewashing for $200, Alex.
It’s one thing to make historical figures like Moses and Rameses white, but now we’ve crossed an entirely new line when the most powerful gods of ancient Egypt, Set and Horus, are played by Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, respectively.
Let me make that as clear as possible for you in case you’re not getting this. This is a fantasy film and the fantasy that we are seeing is a world in which two attractive white men are LITERALLY gods. This isn’t some sort of artistic ‘God as metaphor’ situation they are playing actual Egyptian gods with actual immense power.
The fact that this movie is coming to theaters in 2016 also needs to be reiterated.
You would think that by 2016, after countless criticized “historically-based” movies such as Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans, and Immortals — Hollywood would have finally felt the need for diversity in casts, especially when representing entire cultures and histories.
Yes we get it, the white men are put in play because they attract the audiences. You know who else attracts audiences? Idris Elba. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Javier Bardem. Djimon Hounsou. Morgan Freeman. Denzel Washington. Michael B. Jordan. Will Smith.
Were all those people busy? (Will Smith actually was busy.)
The horrible parallels between Exodus and Gods of Egypt continue on when you notice that the only people of color shown in the trailer are slaves and palace servants. They’re not even speaking, they’re just screaming and running as they get terrorized by giant shiny gods. Didn’t we suffer enough with the first movie?
The trailer also proves that the film will be irreverent to the actual myth it follows — in which gods Set and Horus battle after Set murders his brother Osiris to usurp the throne of Egypt. The film feels the need to now also include mortal thieves and fantastical creatures (CGI desert snakes? Really?).
While many Egyptians and those of Middle Eastern descent are accustomed to the appropriation and exaggeration of their prided ancestry and history, the damage of this movie plays a further role in the lessening need to understand minorities and their backgrounds.
Now, some might argue that there’s no way of knowing what skin color the ancient gods were but let’s apply some logic here. Ancient Egyptian gods were essentially an invention of the ancient Egyptian people to explain how the world works. If the inventors of the myth were dark skinned would it not then make sense that their gods resembled them?
This and many movies of its kind distance the actual cultural truth of ancient Egyptian times — a time of great power and pride for Egyptians to this day; a time so great that we’re all still talking about it.
While the use of white actors and actresses is anything but new in Hollywood, this movie is just the newest in a long line of films calling for non-white and accurate representation of the characters being played.
With that, I will leave you with one of my favorite comments found on Facebook and implore you to research and educate yourself on historical-based films and media:
“Had the ‘white gene’ even mutated into existence when ancient Egypt was around?”
Edited by Shanzay