What is the Monday Morning Moan? Just a compilation of the week’s most groan-worthy moments. Have you had your cup of coffee yet? You’re going to need it. This week we talk about Hollywood whitewashing in the film Exodus, and the new possible war with North Korea.
Whitewashing: The Old Hollywood Tradition
We’ve all seen it before. One of our favorite characters in history or books gets turned into a film. While you have some exciting choices for casting in your head (based on their description), Hollywood will always find a way to let you down, especially when it comes to race. We see every race represented on screen, but through a white person. Not so much white people playing a character anymore, since blackface is incredibly offensive, and hasn’t been done seriously in a film for decades. Even though blackface isn’t around anymore, a more insidious and equally troubling practice is still around: Whitewashing. That is when historically non-white characters are played by nothing but white actors (sometimes with a lot of make-up or tanning). It happens much more often than you realize. Hell, even Katniss from the Hunger Games was supposed to be olive skinned, the skin color usually associated with Middle Eastern or Latin American people. It’s still done all the time, but the filmmakers rarely talk about it, much less defend it. Enter Ridley Scott.
The above picture shows you the casting for Ridley Scott’s upcoming film, Exodus: Gods and Kings. It’s the story of Moses freeing his people from the tyrant Rhamses. Aside from the ethnically ambiguous John Turturro and Ben Kingsley, all of the major roles are played by big named white actors. On the other side you see all of the black actors with less than desirable roles. Ridley Scott was asked to confront the allegations of whitewashing, and this is what he had to say: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.” Sorry, Ridley, but the question did come up.
It’s one thing to do it, but say nothing about it, but defending it is like a slap in the face. It’s almost as bad as perpetuating black face. Christian Bale comes to his defense saying, “Ridley’s point, which I think is a good one, is what does an Egyptian look like? Especially at that time when this was the empire, so it would be a crossroads of Europe and the Middle East and Africa, and he cast accordingly.” I’m pretty sure white people weren’t all that common in Egypt at that time. Less common would be an Egyptian that white AND pale. It’s not like the Egyptians left any paintings or portraits depicting their citizens or anything, right? At this point, their best move would be not to talk about it anymore, but even then the dye (or lack thereof) has already been cast with the trending hashtag #BoycottExodusMovie. Also, when you get Rupert Murdoch defending your decisions, maybe it’s time to re-assess your stance.
The Drums of War: Sony VS North Korea
Recently, hackers attacked Sony’s systems and released 5 films on torrent websites. Out of the five films, only one had already had a theatrical release: Fury. The other four weren’t set to come out for a few weeks, with one of them set to be released next spring. The most devastating for the company is easily the release of Annie. So the weird part is that all of Sony’s releases for the month of December were leaked online. Well, all except one: The Interview. Aside from rumors that North Korea was hiring hackers, it’s also a coincidence that after persistent threats from Kim Jong-Un over the film, that this film is the only one not leaked.
If this ends up being true, it could possibly be one of the stupidest things North Korea has ever done, and that is an already impressive list. It would be considered a terrorist cyber attack, and could easily spark a war. The history books will look back after the war has ended and state that it was caused by the release of a satirical movie. That is one of the most ridiculous grounds for war. In the meantime, we’ll have to wait and see what comes out of the investigations. Also, we have to see what Sony does in response to the leaks, and how bad Annie does in the box office because of it. Also, how terrible would it be if Seth Rogen and James Franco were the cause of a war? I guess it was bound to happen because of them sooner or later.