*Lionsgate and Alex Proyas, the director of the forthcoming “The Gods of Egypt,” have issued an apology for casting all white, European males in the lead roles of the film, set for release February 26. Of course, the apology comes after the studio received criticism about the filmmakers choosing to ignore the contributions of melanated people in the ancient world.
We understand that it’s Hollywood tradition to present the white male as the one true hero of mankind, and the one true representation of the God that all cultures should worship. Thing about that archaic method of storytelling is, many people are over it.
Chadwick Boseman provides the dash of color in “The Gods of Egypt,” playing Thoth The God of Wisdom. You can catch a glimpse of him the in trailer below, but blink and you’ll miss him.
Perhaps the filmmakers anticipated the backlash, considering director Ridley Scott faced similar for the white-washing of his disastrous, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” While the film only banked $65 million in U.S. box office, it grossed $200 million intentionally, although some Arab countries opted to ban the film because of its white lies.
As Shadow and Act notes, ”The Gods of Egypt” stars Gerard Butler, “as well as a couple of Brits, a few Aussies and a Dane, all playing Egyptians.” It’s pretty clear that “the idea of casting actors more appropriate and believable as Egyptians never really crossed their minds until the controversy hit them in the face.”
Hollywood continues to subscribe to the racist ideal that actors of color don’t always lead to big box office openers, but we can’t help to wonder… Is Gerard Butler still a big box office draw?
This kind of apology never happens – for something that happens all the time. An unusual occurrence worth noting. https://t.co/xRTEy7woWs
— Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) November 28, 2015
GODS OF EGYPT makes me value Abrams’ STAR WARS choices more. Makes me cheer more for Coogler’s CREED. We all deserve icons in our own image. — Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) November 28, 2015
Both the studio and Alex Proyas have acknowledged that they pretty much failed to take advantage of an opportunity to alter the course of Hollywood by casting people who actually reflect the culture of that time. Whether it’s fact or fictionalized, Hollywood continue to take issue with people of color being represented in prominent, non-demeaning roles – and heaven forbid we be cast to play Egyptian Gods!
Lionsgate, for its part, said: ”We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”
Proyas also released a statement saying: “The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”
Many speculate that the studio fears the backlash could hurt where it counts the most – at the box office.
What do you think?
Meanwhile, “Selma” director Ava Duvernay took to Twitter on Friday to respond to the unprecedented apology, calling it, “An unusual occurrence worth noting.”
“We all deserve icons in our own image,” she wrote as she praised J.J. Abrams’ diverse casting in the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Check out her tweets below.
Check out the trailer for “The Gods of Egypt” below.