From the film “Ten Commandments” to “Cleopatra” Hollywood has a tendency to cast white actors to play ancient Africans in Egypt. Apparently that type of casting continues in the year 2014.
The casting of Ridley Scott’s new film Exodus: Gods and Kings has left thousands outraged over what they see as racist casting. The film tells the story of the Biblical Moses, yet all the Egyptian main characters are played by white actors, and nearly all of the film’s Egyptian villains and servants are played by black actors. A Care2 petition urges Scott to be accurate and racially sensitive when casting for future films; it has over 15,000 signatures.
The Care2 petition argues Exodus: Gods and Kings, which will be released this December, is neglectful of the race of biblical African and Middle Eastern characters. It portrays a false message that these figures were in fact Caucasian, while black actors are reserved for more minor roles.
“In his new version of Moses’ battle to save his people from slavery, Scott has played into the worst, most outdated assumptions that the heroes of Judaism and Christianity were Caucasian,” the Care2 petition reads.
The IMBD cast list shows a stark contrast between the main and supporting actors. It includes Christian Bale as Moses, Aaron Paul as Joshua, and Sigourney Weaver as Tuya. By contrast, it features Adrian Palmer as “Egyptian thief,” David Olawale Ayinde as an uncredited “Egyptian Civilian Lower Class,” and Emeka Sesay as “Rhamses Royal Servant.”
Activists say casting black male actors as villains shamelessly reinforces racial stereotypes and sends a harmful message to viewers.
The Care2 petition echoes past efforts by Care2 members to raise awareness of racial inconsistencies in Hollywood casting. In March, after it was announced Rooney Mara would play Tiger Lily (a Native American character) in an adaptation of Peter Pan, a Care2 petition demanding warner bros. stop casting white actors to play people of color gathered more than 22,000 signatures.