John Oliver Torpedoes Hollywood Whitewashing on Last Week Tonight

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John Oliver Torpedoes Hollywood Whitewashing on Last Week Tonight

Oliver pulls no punches in his latest "How Is This Still a Thing?" segment.

The story of this year's Oscar boycott has been well documented, the number of frivilous think pieces devoted to it in the thousands, the list of actual celebrities participating in it somewhat less than that. In some critic's eyes, the #OscarsSoWhite campaign has been a long overdue comeuppance for an industry that likes to pride itself as being more progressive and forward-thinking than the rest of the world with little evidence to support its claims.

Now just a week out from the 88th annual Academy Awards, John Oliver put his spin on the diversity problem plaguing Hollywood in one of his "Why Is This Still a Thing?" segments, taking specific aim at the claim that there simply aren't enough good roles available for actors of color.

In typical Oliver fashion, what followed was an uncompromising, scathing takedown of this notion, citing Hollywood's long tradition of casting white actors in roles specifically meant for minorities. Whether it's seeing American John Wayne cast as Genghis Khan or seeing white as paper Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton portraying Egyptian prophets Moses and Ramesses, respectively, the film industry has a long history of whitewashing history in order to suit the needs of its financial backers, as Oliver explains.

At the center of Last Week Tonight's segment is a rather telling quote that was given by Exodus: Gods and Kings director Ridley Scott, who while attempting to defend the movie's whitewashed cast, said the following:

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.

Yowza.

Of course, the discrepancy be wouldn't be as noticeable, Oliver argues, if half the country didn't erupt in outrage every time a non-white actor was cast in a role originally portrayed by a white person -- look no further than the backlash Michael B. Jordan received after being cast as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four remake.

Check out the video above, then give us your take on the issue in the comments section.

Source: Last Week Tonight

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The first time I saw a trailer for Gods of Egypt I cried laughing. Not only does the movie just look plain pants-on-head-retarded, but every fucker is white! Like, seriously??!?! It's 2016, guys! We can cast people who at least look Egyptian, can't we?

Christ's sake.

The Last Samurai part of the segment was amazing, and the quote from Ridley Scott was... disheartening.

So he just points out that people only get outraged when characters of "color" are represented by "whites"? thats far from the truth, people get mad when this happens to any race and any character, just remember everyone complaining about the cast in the last air bender. The problem is people dont care when the characters portrayed dont interest them, no one cares if moses is played by a white dude because there is no moses fan club.

Also the name of the actor does sell tickets, and that gets reflected on the funding studios give.

Oh Escapist. You folks know your audience.

The Tom Cruise as the last samurai bit was hilarious. Although I always thought that movie was supposed to be about a white guy in Japan. I've never seen it.

gact:
... because there is no moses fan club.

Sure there is. In fact, it has millions of members.

I believe they call themselves "the Jews".

...

I'm here all week folks!

Isn't a huge part of it China specifically? I remember listening to several Hollywood producers saying basically that movies with black leads don't do well 'internationally'. Which means in China.

Not excusing Hollywood, just saying in a capitalist society, whatever gets you the most money is the answer. Its bullshit, but do I blame them for pandering? No, not really.

Still bullshit.

We must stop doing everything the way we did it, because it's the current year! /sarcasm

I understand the irritation people might have when a actor is cast in a role that doesn't align with their skin colour, either way around. However just pointing towards Hollywood or the financiers and telling them to fix everything doesn't work, cause they're not a single entity and they're still making a lot of money the way they're doing things.
Vote with your wallet, start your own movie studio, be the change you want to see.

A little tantrum on a late night show might be cathartic, but it only serves to entrench people further in their own ideologies.

Maybe it's just me but I personally remember there being plenty of angry people when those whitewashing actors were announced to play these roles.

But it's [current year]!!!!!!

Absolutely [current year]!

The last time I saw someone say that another person 'torpedoed' an issue in relation to a news article, it was on every news network ever the moment anyone said anything about [Hot Button Political/Societal Mess.] A bit clickbait-y, man!

That being said, I have to say this pretty much resembles the average non-top-10 Buzzfeed article. Hell, the article even includes the classic 'Oh, I'm white, so my opinions don't matter but I totally agree that something is wrong you guys!' Disclaimer.

I'll say this. Yes, there is an issue of lots of white folks getting non-white roles, but it seems rather silly to dismiss all explanations given with a wave of the hand and 'IT'S THE CURRENT YEAR!' as if that actually presents a well thought out counterargument. If you don't like the way the Oscars currently work, maybe just try ignoring the Oscars as many have already done with the boycotts. Just don't put it in your head that boycotting will actually be very effective. The Oscars aren't a bus route, they're an award show that will already have all the money they need to continue just by virtue of being a part of Hollywood's traditions.

On another note, the comic books industry has been seeing a somewhat inverse phenomena recently where superheroes are needlessly diversified and given overly progressive ideals, yet the outrage over that is considered 'whining' by 'neckbeards.' What's even worse is that the issue in the comic books side of things is only exacerbated by how aggressive and mean-spirited the writers have become. Remember Female Thor? How she had an opponent who laid out a well-written argument on how she could have Thor's hammer, do her own thing, but maybe try doing something to differentiate herself from the original Thor? What about Squirrel Girl, who turned into a poorly drawn mass of blobs that argued with Galactus over pronouns? What about Wonder Woman deciding to let somebody beat up a guy because, and I quote, 'The lasso compels truth, but it can't stop Mansplaining'? These examples only serve to devalue actually well thought out examples of diversity in writing, such as Steve Rogers' long time friend Sam Wilson taking up the mantle of Captain America.

Maybe just acknowledge that not getting a small gold man to put on your hat (what do most people do with Oscars, anyway? I want one on my hat.) doesn't mean that your prowess is going unrecognized. All award shows are just circlejerks for whoever is popular at the moment anyway, so why even care if you don't get to join in that mass of sweaty, most likely naked actors and directors?

Amaror:
Maybe it's just me but I personally remember there being plenty of angry people when those whitewashing actors were announced to play these roles.

Yeah there was. Sadly I think there were just as many people saying "Shut up SJWs/White Knights/Keyboard warriors" whatever the term of the day was.

Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of the most cringe-worthy, racist performances I have ever seen. Seriously, what the HELL was that??? I love how they also skewer the idea that we need white guys to play solely for money even if that guy has no star power, and how everyone freaks out with races other than white getting white parts. Now to see if the John Oliver Effect happens

DemomanHusband:
/

on comic part, what your talking about is not whitewashing, whitewashing is when change a character race to a different race mostly in adaptations or historical people. what your talking is legacy characters.

tf2godz:

DemomanHusband:
/

on comic part, what your talking about is not whitewashing, whitewashing is when change a character race to a different race mostly in adaptations or historical people. what your talking is legacy characters.

I realize that, I suppose 'inverse' issue wasn't really the proper word there. I don't really have a problem with 'blackwashing' (colorwashing? I hate how it's all about white vs color these day, sheesh.) of characters within other media because I'm not a thin-skinned, small-gold-man worshiping socialite, so 'similar in nature but not within the same type of media' might be a better way of putting what I was talking about, albeit a long-winded name for it. The issue I take is really just the handling of legacy characters. Although I'm pretty certain Squirrel Girl and Wonder Woman have remained the same, and while there's been a bit of man-hating from Wonder Woman from time to time, it never stuck with her once she actually started working with other heroes in earnest, and she never would have used the hilariously misandry-laden term 'Mansplaining' before letting another woman punch a subdued man in the face.

Zhukov:
Oh Escapist. You folks know your audience.

The Tom Cruise as the last samurai bit was hilarious. Although I always thought that movie was supposed to be about a white guy in Japan. I've never seen it.

Yes, Tom Cruise was a white American officer in the movie, so Tonight Show people didn't see that movie either? They were wrong about that and they used that as final punchline, I was with them to that point, but that kinda ruined the entire thing for me.

erttheking:

Amaror:
Maybe it's just me but I personally remember there being plenty of angry people when those whitewashing actors were announced to play these roles.

Yeah there was. Sadly I think there were just as many people saying "Shut up SJWs/White Knights/Keyboard warriors" whatever the term of the day was.

And there were people saying "Shut up racist" when people were angry when minorities were cast for originally white characters. What's your point?

Here's the issue.

If people don't talk about it, nothing will change. It will still be the same old guard with the same old guard sensibilities. People are ok with the status quo, and people are really not ok with being forced to think about other people.

If we talk about it and something changes, everything will be suspect and hated. Boycott this Oscar because they are catering to the whiny minorities. Oddly enough, boycotting something because of whiny minorities is a valid and just think when you're a whiny majority. In fact, I've NEVER seen anyone whine so hard as the Current Majority. Did you see the hate about Finn being cast a leading role in the latest Star Wars?

If you haven't, it looks like this.

I just want certain people to admit that they outright don't like other people instead of acting like they just don't want to see pandering. That's at least a conversation to have because it's something of honesty and substance. Not claptrap that really doesn't hold water.

L3D:

Zhukov:
Oh Escapist. You folks know your audience.

The Tom Cruise as the last samurai bit was hilarious. Although I always thought that movie was supposed to be about a white guy in Japan. I've never seen it.

Yes, Tom Cruise was a white American officer in the movie, so Tonight Show people didn't see that movie either? They were wrong about that and they used that as final punchline, I was with them to that point, but that kinda ruined the entire thing for me.

Tom Cruise was a white American, yes. However he was the Last Samurai. All the other Samurai in the movie actually were killed off. He's the last one. In a movie with Asians out the ass the whitest guy ever is the last member of a very culturally Japanese group.

Fuck that.

The point of that was the Last Samurai was a movie set in Japan, steeped in Japanese culture and the conflict between Japans past and its future. In all that the story focused entirely on the white guy and after everything is said and done, the white guy is the one who saves Japan's soul.

Again. Fuck. That.

People losing their shit over the inverse is also the most infuriating thing ever. How many people lost their collective shit (the bad way) over Heimdall in Thor being a black guy instead of yet another white guy? Or for a really recent thing, look at the shit the people who made Hamilton have been dealing with. They cast every character (except King George) as a poc and they've been getting shat on for "distorting history" despite the fact that they never seem to bat an eye when Hollywood casts a white person as a Native American.

shintakie10:
People losing their shit over the inverse is also the most infuriating thing ever. How many people lost their collective shit (the bad way) over Heimdall in Thor being a black guy instead of yet another white guy?

I mean I get the "historical context", but those people are clearly wrong and for one very obvious reason. Idris Elba should pretty much play every roll ever.

Well... Not Loki. Tom Hiddleston has that character pretty much perfect.

Dreph:

shintakie10:
People losing their shit over the inverse is also the most infuriating thing ever. How many people lost their collective shit (the bad way) over Heimdall in Thor being a black guy instead of yet another white guy?

I mean I get the "historical context", but those people are clearly wrong and for one very obvious reason. Idris Elba should pretty much play every roll ever.

Well... Not Loki. Tom Hiddleston has that character pretty much perfect.

Phew, I get that this post isn't entirely serious, but the fact that I've had more than a few friends legitimately make similar arguments to me just exasperates me.

I'd say dramatic irony is a lost art, but that's mostly because we live in it so often that apparently nobody notices.

Long overdue comeuppance? You mean like since 2013 when a bunch of people who aren't white got nominated and won Oscars for 12 Years a Slave. Voted for, by the way, by the same people who are suddenly racist this year as the Academy voters don't change all that much.

Zhukov:
Oh Escapist. You folks know your audience.

The Tom Cruise as the last samurai bit was hilarious. Although I always thought that movie was supposed to be about a white guy in Japan. I've never seen it.

Eh, it was, but it's a little bit silly that a random white guy from America travels to Japan, and becomes the best samurai in about three months. Then there's a battle, and he's the only survivor.

Fappy:

The Last Samurai part of the segment was amazing, and the quote from Ridley Scott was... disheartening.

Ridley Scott's a hack. He hasn't made a good movie since Alien. He could have ended his career there, and I'd be happy. If you want strange, outlandish views, he's your guy. Kind of like the racist uncle you tolerate around christmas, who still thinks he's a big deal because of that touchdown he scored in highschool.

I've proudly boycotted the Oscars for the last 23 years, though, so I don't see any reason to stop now.

Last Samurai, love or hate it, was not white washing. It was an "American goes to an exotic culture" movie. Can't help it if some white guy stole a joke from Chappelle and applied it in a situation that didn't apply. The character wasn't a Japanese Samurai, it was a white civil war soldier. Ergo you aren't "whitewashing" over a minority character by casting a white character.

To the topic at hand, you mean in massively white America they've been casting the most common-to-find race in most roles including roles depicting other races who weren't nearly as common or trained in acting?

That's OK, I'm sure in places like India they hire real white actors to play white characters and in other nations of low racial diversity I'm sure they also go out of their way to diversify their cast with character specific races...

Hint: They do not. They hire whoever is near at hand that can act.

What's offensive is when the actor then tries to act like the race they're portraying but not a part of. It's okay to race or gender swap. Just not cast a person of another race or gender as a different race or gender (Louie Anderson is doing fine in Baskets as the mother though, strangely believable).

Even that sometimes works... I think the hilarious Chappelle made this point best:

image

I don't recall exactly what it was he said... but it sure looks like he don't give no fucks.

Fappy:
The first time I saw a trailer for Gods of Egypt I cried laughing. Not only does the movie just look plain pants-on-head-retarded, but every fucker is white! Like, seriously??!?! It's 2016, guys! We can cast people who at least look Egyptian, can't we?

Christ's sake.

The director of Gods of Egypt, Alex Proyas, had this to say on the subject. Make of it what you will.

A FEW POINTS REGARDING CASTING GODS OF EGYPT

1 My movie is not intended to be "history". It is inspired by myth, a fantasy film - a work of the imagination. Therefore under the rules of creative license and artistic freedom of expression, I cast the actors I considered right for the roles. It is also of course everyone's right to disagree with me. That's art.

2. It is common for actors to play a character of a different nationality to their own. Sean Connery a Scot played a Russian. Omar Sharif an Egyptian also played a Russian. Meryl Streep played an Australian. Anthony Quinn a Mexican played almost anybody "ethnic"! And every Australian actor puts on an American accent now and then and pretends to be a yank. There was an outcry when Chinese actors played Japanese characters in a fairly recent film but generally this isn't a focus of concern. But of course there is a justified concern (as there should be) if casting against race is an example of "white-washing" i.e. casting a white actor to represent a person of colour for the specific reason to appeal to a perceived predominantly white audience - though ironically I doubt there really is such an audience any more in most parts of the world.

3. Of course it is unlikely Ancient Egyptians were pre-dominantly or entirely caucasian, just as they are not today, though their art shows a mixture of skin colour during most dynasties. Is this recording of actuality, or symbolic or artistic representation therefore not meant literally? Perhaps modern Egypt's mix of peoples is an indication of the ancients' racial mix? Or perhaps not. I will not attempt to make any such argument either way - I just do not believe we know all the answers, and therefore any generalised statements will probably be erroneous. And as I have stated the movie is not trying to depict historic accuracy in any way.

4. As a modern day Egyptian (of Greek ancestry which goes back to the time of Alexander the Great) I was born into a colour blind culture - and Egypt, like the countries immediately surrounding it, has been for at least the last two thousand years, a mixing pot of peoples - Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African, a true cross-roads of civilisation, culturally and racially. Was this the case during the time of the pyramids? Perhaps not, but we do not know for certain. And of course Ancient Egypt spanned thousands of years - and was ruled by many different peoples.

5. I cast the best actors for the roles. I stand by these decisions. The casting is an attempt to include ALL people - partly suggestive of the Egypt I know based on my own cultural heritage, but clearly and most importantly a work of the "imagination" - to exclude any one race in service of a hypothetical theory of historical accuracy, particularly in a film that is not attempting to be "history", rather a fantasy film, would have been biased.

6. Of course in a perfect world there would be a greater pool of english speaking Egyptian actors to draw upon for this movie, but the practicalities of production, the "names" which are required by studios to finance a movie of this scale, the fact the movie was entirely made in Australia with specific guidelines about how many "imported" actors we could include (due to financing Australian content "quota" requirements), all these aspects had a part to play in the casting of the movie.

7. Finally, I do believe this movie is not the best one to soap-box issues of diversity with. Yes, in the wider argument, I do believe we need more people of colour and a greater cultural diversity in movies - after all Hollywood has spent a century or more making 95% of it's content based in American culture, it is time for a change. And, as one example, I do agree that often great performances by black actors in Hollywood movies are over-looked. And Asian Americans hardly get a single story told about them these days. But in the instance of this movie, I attempted to show racial diversity, black, white, Asian, as far as I was allowed, as far as I could, given the limitations I was given. It is obviously clear that for things to change, for casting in movies to become more diverse many forces must align. Not just the creative. To those who are offended by the decisions which were made I have already apologised. I respect their opinion, but I hope the context of the decisions is a little clearer based on my statements here.

Thanks for reading.

- Alex Proyas

Fox12:
Ridley Scott's a hack. He hasn't made a good movie since Alien.

I thought Kingdom of Heaven was pretty good.

Dialogue was a bit cheesy and unnatural and the cinematic cut butchered it, but the director's cut was legit.

Haha, it's ridiculous. You can't complain about white washing while simultaneously defending traditionally white characters cast as people of color. Either you have faithful representation of characters or you do not. Either you have accuracy or you have artistic interpretation, holy shit.

Also, that last Samurai joke was lifted DIRECTLY from Chappelle's Show, in a segment called Mooney on Movies, with famous comedian and writer Paul Mooney. How are you gonna have a story complaining about racism, then not acknowledge that a joke was lifted by a white guy from a black guy.

Furthermore; Gods of Egypt is not represented as historically accurate, you dumbasses. I really like John Oliver and his show, but sometimes the guy and his writers are just wrong about things.

erttheking:

Amaror:
Maybe it's just me but I personally remember there being plenty of angry people when those whitewashing actors were announced to play these roles.

Yeah there was. Sadly I think there were just as many people saying "Shut up SJWs/White Knights/Keyboard warriors" whatever the term of the day was.

They're not as much angry, as terrified.

IOwnTheSpire:

Fappy:
The first time I saw a trailer for Gods of Egypt I cried laughing. Not only does the movie just look plain pants-on-head-retarded, but every fucker is white! Like, seriously??!?! It's 2016, guys! We can cast people who at least look Egyptian, can't we?

Christ's sake.

The director of Gods of Egypt, Alex Proyas, had this to say on the subject. Make of it what you will.

A FEW POINTS REGARDING CASTING GODS OF EGYPT

1 My movie is not intended to be "history". It is inspired by myth, a fantasy film - a work of the imagination. Therefore under the rules of creative license and artistic freedom of expression, I cast the actors I considered right for the roles. It is also of course everyone's right to disagree with me. That's art.

2. It is common for actors to play a character of a different nationality to their own. Sean Connery a Scot played a Russian. Omar Sharif an Egyptian also played a Russian. Meryl Streep played an Australian. Anthony Quinn a Mexican played almost anybody "ethnic"! And every Australian actor puts on an American accent now and then and pretends to be a yank. There was an outcry when Chinese actors played Japanese characters in a fairly recent film but generally this isn't a focus of concern. But of course there is a justified concern (as there should be) if casting against race is an example of "white-washing" i.e. casting a white actor to represent a person of colour for the specific reason to appeal to a perceived predominantly white audience - though ironically I doubt there really is such an audience any more in most parts of the world.

3. Of course it is unlikely Ancient Egyptians were pre-dominantly or entirely caucasian, just as they are not today, though their art shows a mixture of skin colour during most dynasties. Is this recording of actuality, or symbolic or artistic representation therefore not meant literally? Perhaps modern Egypt's mix of peoples is an indication of the ancients' racial mix? Or perhaps not. I will not attempt to make any such argument either way - I just do not believe we know all the answers, and therefore any generalised statements will probably be erroneous. And as I have stated the movie is not trying to depict historic accuracy in any way.

4. As a modern day Egyptian (of Greek ancestry which goes back to the time of Alexander the Great) I was born into a colour blind culture - and Egypt, like the countries immediately surrounding it, has been for at least the last two thousand years, a mixing pot of peoples - Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African, a true cross-roads of civilisation, culturally and racially. Was this the case during the time of the pyramids? Perhaps not, but we do not know for certain. And of course Ancient Egypt spanned thousands of years - and was ruled by many different peoples.

5. I cast the best actors for the roles. I stand by these decisions. The casting is an attempt to include ALL people - partly suggestive of the Egypt I know based on my own cultural heritage, but clearly and most importantly a work of the "imagination" - to exclude any one race in service of a hypothetical theory of historical accuracy, particularly in a film that is not attempting to be "history", rather a fantasy film, would have been biased.

6. Of course in a perfect world there would be a greater pool of english speaking Egyptian actors to draw upon for this movie, but the practicalities of production, the "names" which are required by studios to finance a movie of this scale, the fact the movie was entirely made in Australia with specific guidelines about how many "imported" actors we could include (due to financing Australian content "quota" requirements), all these aspects had a part to play in the casting of the movie.

7. Finally, I do believe this movie is not the best one to soap-box issues of diversity with. Yes, in the wider argument, I do believe we need more people of colour and a greater cultural diversity in movies - after all Hollywood has spent a century or more making 95% of it's content based in American culture, it is time for a change. And, as one example, I do agree that often great performances by black actors in Hollywood movies are over-looked. And Asian Americans hardly get a single story told about them these days. But in the instance of this movie, I attempted to show racial diversity, black, white, Asian, as far as I was allowed, as far as I could, given the limitations I was given. It is obviously clear that for things to change, for casting in movies to become more diverse many forces must align. Not just the creative. To those who are offended by the decisions which were made I have already apologised. I respect their opinion, but I hope the context of the decisions is a little clearer based on my statements here.

Thanks for reading.

- Alex Proyas

Counterpoint: Slumdog Millionaire. Try something new, it might work.

Zhukov:

Fox12:
Ridley Scott's a hack. He hasn't made a good movie since Alien.

I thought Kingdom of Heaven was pretty good.

Dialogue was a bit cheesy and unnatural and the cinematic cut butchered it, but the director's cut was legit.

I've heard that. I may need to checkout the director's cut. I vaguely remember seeing the original a while back. Bladerunner was decent as well, but I thought parts of it were a little cheesy. Was it really necessary to pierce the villains hands with nails, and then have him grab a random dove? We get it, he's Jesus.

shintakie10:

L3D:
[quote="Zhukov" post="7.934992.23532399"]Oh Escapist. You folks know your audience.

The Tom Cruise as the last samurai bit was hilarious. Although I always thought that movie was supposed to be about a white guy in Japan. I've never seen it.

...

People losing their shit over the inverse is also the most infuriating thing ever. How many people lost their collective shit (the bad way) over Heimdall in Thor being a black guy instead of yet another white guy? Or for a really recent thing, look at the shit the people who made Hamilton have been dealing with. They cast every character (except King George) as a poc and they've been getting shat on for "distorting history" despite the fact that they never seem to bat an eye when Hollywood casts a white person as a Native American.

Again, I'm going to have to once more ask the question that is pretty much always relevant to these topics: "How do you know?" And this is addressed towards everyone in the thread who has/will make such comments.
Time and time again I see people crying hypocrisy because some nebulous they is criticizing something, and then another nebulous they is criticizing something else, and for some reason it's seen as acceptable to just assume there's no overlap between groups.
While I don't doubt there are people who only get mad when a white character is race swapped, and others who only care when the opposite happens, there are plenty of people who criticize both. After all, some group known as they certainly does far more than "bat an eye" whenever a white person is cast as a native American, so unless you've been keeping tabs on these people you have no way of knowing whether they're the same people or not, making your claim a baseless assumption.

Richard Gozin-Yu:

erttheking:

Amaror:
Maybe it's just me but I personally remember there being plenty of angry people when those whitewashing actors were announced to play these roles.

Yeah there was. Sadly I think there were just as many people saying "Shut up SJWs/White Knights/Keyboard warriors" whatever the term of the day was.

They're not as much angry, as terrified.

IOwnTheSpire:

Fappy:
The first time I saw a trailer for Gods of Egypt I cried laughing. Not only does the movie just look plain pants-on-head-retarded, but every fucker is white! Like, seriously??!?! It's 2016, guys! We can cast people who at least look Egyptian, can't we?

Christ's sake.

The director of Gods of Egypt, Alex Proyas, had this to say on the subject. Make of it what you will.

A FEW POINTS REGARDING CASTING GODS OF EGYPT

1 My movie is not intended to be "history". It is inspired by myth, a fantasy film - a work of the imagination. Therefore under the rules of creative license and artistic freedom of expression, I cast the actors I considered right for the roles. It is also of course everyone's right to disagree with me. That's art.

2. It is common for actors to play a character of a different nationality to their own. Sean Connery a Scot played a Russian. Omar Sharif an Egyptian also played a Russian. Meryl Streep played an Australian. Anthony Quinn a Mexican played almost anybody "ethnic"! And every Australian actor puts on an American accent now and then and pretends to be a yank. There was an outcry when Chinese actors played Japanese characters in a fairly recent film but generally this isn't a focus of concern. But of course there is a justified concern (as there should be) if casting against race is an example of "white-washing" i.e. casting a white actor to represent a person of colour for the specific reason to appeal to a perceived predominantly white audience - though ironically I doubt there really is such an audience any more in most parts of the world.

3. Of course it is unlikely Ancient Egyptians were pre-dominantly or entirely caucasian, just as they are not today, though their art shows a mixture of skin colour during most dynasties. Is this recording of actuality, or symbolic or artistic representation therefore not meant literally? Perhaps modern Egypt's mix of peoples is an indication of the ancients' racial mix? Or perhaps not. I will not attempt to make any such argument either way - I just do not believe we know all the answers, and therefore any generalised statements will probably be erroneous. And as I have stated the movie is not trying to depict historic accuracy in any way.

4. As a modern day Egyptian (of Greek ancestry which goes back to the time of Alexander the Great) I was born into a colour blind culture - and Egypt, like the countries immediately surrounding it, has been for at least the last two thousand years, a mixing pot of peoples - Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African, a true cross-roads of civilisation, culturally and racially. Was this the case during the time of the pyramids? Perhaps not, but we do not know for certain. And of course Ancient Egypt spanned thousands of years - and was ruled by many different peoples.

5. I cast the best actors for the roles. I stand by these decisions. The casting is an attempt to include ALL people - partly suggestive of the Egypt I know based on my own cultural heritage, but clearly and most importantly a work of the "imagination" - to exclude any one race in service of a hypothetical theory of historical accuracy, particularly in a film that is not attempting to be "history", rather a fantasy film, would have been biased.

6. Of course in a perfect world there would be a greater pool of english speaking Egyptian actors to draw upon for this movie, but the practicalities of production, the "names" which are required by studios to finance a movie of this scale, the fact the movie was entirely made in Australia with specific guidelines about how many "imported" actors we could include (due to financing Australian content "quota" requirements), all these aspects had a part to play in the casting of the movie.

7. Finally, I do believe this movie is not the best one to soap-box issues of diversity with. Yes, in the wider argument, I do believe we need more people of colour and a greater cultural diversity in movies - after all Hollywood has spent a century or more making 95% of it's content based in American culture, it is time for a change. And, as one example, I do agree that often great performances by black actors in Hollywood movies are over-looked. And Asian Americans hardly get a single story told about them these days. But in the instance of this movie, I attempted to show racial diversity, black, white, Asian, as far as I was allowed, as far as I could, given the limitations I was given. It is obviously clear that for things to change, for casting in movies to become more diverse many forces must align. Not just the creative. To those who are offended by the decisions which were made I have already apologised. I respect their opinion, but I hope the context of the decisions is a little clearer based on my statements here.

Thanks for reading.

- Alex Proyas

Counterpoint: Slumdog Millionaire. Try something new, it might work.

I am hardly terrified of you people, I am saddened that you feel a need to kiss a group's collective ass for sins they have labeled you with, that you had no part in and do not condone. And feel the need to suck up to them for their forgiveness, and cater to them for no other reason than to try to appease them so they might not remind you that your ancestors were slavers. (By the way, statically your family was never part of the 1% of people that owned slaves, more likely your ancestors were serfs comparatively)

Lightknight:

That's OK, I'm sure in places like India they hire real white actors to play white characters and in other nations of low racial diversity I'm sure they also go out of their way to diversify their cast with character specific races...

Apparently, 95% of the cast of Attack on Titan is supposed to be White. I'm pretty sure it's canon that there's only one Japanese person in the world.

And Les Miserable is entirely french.

I wasn't really outraged by black hermione, and I'm not really outraged by this. I don't know what to think.

Fox12:

Lightknight:

That's OK, I'm sure in places like India they hire real white actors to play white characters and in other nations of low racial diversity I'm sure they also go out of their way to diversify their cast with character specific races...

Apparently, 95% of the cast of Attack on Titan is White.

And Les Miserable is entirely french.

I wasn't really outraged by black hermione, and I'm not really outraged by this. I don't know what to think.

Yeah, non of it outrages me. The only thing that's offensive is typically when someone actually tries to act black if they're white or act Asian when they're not.

I mean, there is at least one surprising exception I can think of...

image

But I guess he was technically a white man playing a white man who was playing a black man... so... maybe it doesn't count?

Enough with the buzzfeedisms! Perhaps I have an over inflated view of what a damage a Torpedo does, but he didn't do anything approaching what a Torpedo does. Did he fund a movie with minorities? Did he sponsor acting schools for the under privileged? Did he even zing a casting director as they picked up their oscar? No he made some sarcastic collage with other peoples footage, I'm sure Hollywood is quaking in their boots.

Richard Gozin-Yu:

Counterpoint: Slumdog Millionaire. Try something new, it might work.

That's not so much a counterpoint so much as it is a 'gotcha', and even then it's a poor one at that. Slumdog Millionaire is hardly the same kind of movie as Gods of Egypt. Also, there's the fact that Slumdog Millionaire was filmed in India, with an Indian co-director. Of course they're likely to have an Indian cast. Gods of Egypt... I sincerely doubt it was actually filmed in Egypt. In fact, from what I can find, filming took place primarily in Australia.

So in closing, Counterpoint: You have no idea how the film industry works. Also, stop being one of those people that thinks a single sentence adequately explains their argument. You're one step away from 'educate yourself,' and we all know who says that.

Baresark:
Haha, it's ridiculous. You can't complain about white washing while simultaneously defending traditionally white characters cast as people of color. Either you have faithful representation of characters or you do not. Either you have accuracy or you have artistic interpretation, holy shit.

Also, that last Samurai joke was lifted DIRECTLY from Chappelle's Show, in a segment called Mooney on Movies, with famous comedian and writer Paul Mooney. How are you gonna have a story complaining about racism, then not acknowledge that a joke was lifted by a white guy from a black guy.

Furthermore; Gods of Egypt is not represented as historically accurate, you dumbasses. I really like John Oliver and his show, but sometimes the guy and his writers are just wrong about things.

Its all well and good to bitch about this when you're the dominant group. Try being the one that rarely ever gets to see people that resemble. Then do that for your entire life and watch as people that don't look like you or share anything about your life pretend to do just that.

Its infuriating and disheartening to rarely, if ever, get to see people like yourself in major roles. Worse, if you die see them then half the time you're stuck watching moderate to extreme stereotypes at play.

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