Is Ridley Scott's Biblical Epic Exodus Whitewashing Ancient Egypt?

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Is Ridley Scott's Biblical Epic Exodus Whitewashing Ancient Egypt?

Hopefully Exodus will be more than just racial stereotypes.

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You know, I actually made a forum post about this a while back, but with animation. To me, 'white-washing' feels very much like a subjective term with many people having differing opinions.

Back in the 1990's, Roger Ebert said that Aladdin has features like an American High Schooler while Jafar had more stereotypical features like a crooked nose, darker skin, etc.

Then there's the paradox where if you go the other way, you make the supposedly ethnic character have too many features similar to a supposed 'Caucausin culture', they're suddenly 'Oreos' (black on the outside, white on the inside).

I'm more forgiving in live action versions of this because a majority of Hollywood are white actors (which is a problem that we should discuss another time) and the producers want big names. But, it's far more telling in animation where you can make the characters as light-skinned/dark-skinned/whatever as you want them too and the protagonists have features closer to Caucasians than their supposed ethnic origin.

Or, you know, I could just be spouting nonsense from my mouth again.

Changed my mind about what I was going to comment can't be bothered with the arguments.

im just wondering but if a Norse god can be black why can't moses be white ?...

why does this one have to be what he supposedly "should" be...but not the other.

seriously people were castigated for suggesting things like Norse gods "should" all be white.

so why not here with this ? what exactly is the difference ?

don't get me wrong i know what the arguments for and against are in both cases.

i just can't see how someone reconciles both of them at the same time without indulging in cognitive bias.

dw i can accept cognitive bias, because we all have it in some respects...
but only if it's honestly admitted....otherwise people are openly peddling hypocrisy.

oh and PS 76 year old English film making legends don't give a toss what "millennials" were watching on TNT in 1996 or whatever.

"media" is not amassed library everyone reads through the same even if that is the framing device some crtics like to use because they, and in all probably they alone, look at and study it in that way.

Meh, think I'll stick with Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt thanks. I always thought that one managed to do the relationship between Moses and Rameses particularly well and did a good job not over-glorifying the Ten Plagues by demonstrating the horrific impact they were having both on Egypt and Moses himself

Sleekit:
im just wondering but if a norse god can be black why can't moses be white ?...

why does this one have to be what he supposedly should be...but not the other.

Because there are about 20 thousand films starring white guys and 20 starring black guys.

Stop pretending this is a level playing feild.

Skull Bearer:

Sleekit:
im just wondering but if a norse god can be black why can't moses be white ?...

why does this one have to be what he supposedly should be...but not the other.

Because there are about 20 thousand films starring white guys and 20 starring black guys.

Stop pretending this is a level playing feild.

i'm not pretending anything. you are however. you're pretending there's a field and it has a goal. what exactly is that goal in your mind ? 50/50 black white ? when only approx 10% of the population in the English speaking nations are black and the truth is they are actually overrepresented as a "race" in popular media IF that's what you're trying to assert.

one of the most prevalent arguments made around Idris Elba as a Norse god were the facts "it doesn't matter what colour he is" and "he's a damn good actor".

now try square that with what you just said.

you can't

one's an argument about merit and the other is a load of made up crap about adhering to some kind of skin color quota.

Sleekit:
one of the most prevalent arguments made around Idris Elba as a Norse god were the facts "it doesn't matter what colour he is" and "he's a damn good actor".

now try square that with what you just said.

you can't

Except you can. Because context.

Besides you're not even making a like comparison. MCU Thor characters are not norse gods and and no point are the stories set in any kind of classical Scandinavian setting.

ayvee:

Sleekit:
one of the most prevalent arguments made around Idris Elba as a Norse god were the facts "it doesn't matter what colour he is" and "he's a damn good actor".

now try square that with what you just said.

you can't

Except you can. Because context.

Besides you're not even making a like comparison. MCU Thor characters are not norse gods and and no point are the stories set in any kind of classical Scandinavian setting.

that's one of most unintentionally funny posts i've read in a while.

Sleekit:

ayvee:

Sleekit:
one of the most prevalent arguments made around Idris Elba as a Norse god were the facts "it doesn't matter what colour he is" and "he's a damn good actor".

now try square that with what you just said.

you can't

Except you can. Because context.

Besides you're not even making a like comparison. MCU Thor characters are not norse gods and and no point are the stories set in any kind of classical Scandinavian setting.

that's one of most unintentionally funny posts i've read in a while.

Funnier than someone insisting that the human-based ethnicity of space aliens is as important an issue as it is in a story that at least purports to have a historical setting? One with a longstanding history of already being whitewashed via western religious tradition, which is another issue at play here. No matter how much you want them to be, these are not equivalent cases.

Skull Bearer:

Sleekit:
im just wondering but if a norse god can be black why can't moses be white ?...

why does this one have to be what he supposedly should be...but not the other.

Because there are about 20 thousand films starring white guys and 20 starring black guys.

Stop pretending this is a level playing feild.

Yes because only the USA makes films /s

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_Nigeria

I saw pictures of the sphinxes they've built for the film. The Sphinxes are whitewashed. They fudging whitewashed the fudging sphinxes. This movie is pretty much an evidence piece for everything wrong with Hollywood.

I've done a fair bit of research on this period, and if anything the author is understating the point. Egypt was one of the great cosmopolitan powers of the ancient world. The streets of Memphis were full of Bedouins from the west and east, Canaanites and Assyrians from the northeast, Hittites and Mycenaean Greeks from the north and northwest, and black Africans from the south, as well as ethnic Egyptians.

Of course, Moses would definitely not be using his own fancy armor. The ancient Hebrews almost certainly used surplus Egyptian gear, since at this point the height of military technology was the spoked wheel. (Iron had yet to percolate down from Turkey and the Caucasus to Egypt at this point.)

One important point that Bob doesn't address (at least, not directly), is that the Egyptian Emperors were pretty much white. The ones we mostly associate with ancient Egypt is the Ptolemaic dynasty, named after Ptolemy I, a Macedonian general of Alexander the Great; so, while they are geographically Africans, ethnically, the higher circles were Greek descendants. Combine that with a lot of inbreeding happening in those years (with brothers getting married and having children considered mostly natural within royalty), and we can infer that those traits were passed on all the way down to Cleopatra.

So, this is less an example of Hollywood whitewashing an African Empire's family, and more about they actually getting it right, at least in this case.

Of course, that is mostly about the Pharaoh and his family... The rest of Egypt was as racially diverse as it could be expected of an Empire near the intersection of many other ethnically diverse empires.

ayvee:
Funnier than someone insisting that the human-based ethnicity of space aliens is as important an issue as it is in a story that at least purports to have a historical setting?

Now you're just misrepresenting the argument.

Even with Marvel Asgaardians being aliens rather than the norse pantheon, Scandinavians still supposedly wrote their stories based on them, and unless they got their depictions wrong, Heimdall and all the other Asgaardians are still assumed to be white.

Not that I care either way, but outrage over "whitewashing" just sets a bad precedent for actors and actresses not being able to depict people of a different skin color, which can only do more harm than good.

UberPubert:

ayvee:
Funnier than someone insisting that the human-based ethnicity of space aliens is as important an issue as it is in a story that at least purports to have a historical setting?

Now you're just misrepresenting the argument.

Even with Marvel Asgaardians being aliens rather than the norse pantheon, Scandinavians still supposedly wrote their stories based on them, and unless they got their depictions wrong, Heimdall and all the other Asgaardians are still assumed to be white.

Not that I care either way, but outrage over "whitewashing" just sets a bad precedent for actors and actresses not being able to depict people of a different skin color, which can only do more harm than good.

There are reasons we could give to explain the discrepancy (like the ancient Scandinavians not being exposed to the full breadth of Asgardian culture) but they're are secondary to the simple fact that Marvel Norse mythology is not actual Norse mythology. It's not even based on it so much as inspired by it, and it's silly to insist that marvel characters would all need to be white on the basis of our understanding of a history that it has never held to in so many other regards.

But tl;dr there are cases where race can be a casting factor, there are cases where it shouldn't. That is the basis of why there's no cognitive dissonance here.

hermes200:
One important point that Bob doesn't address (at least, not directly), is that the Egyptian Emperors were pretty much white. The ones we mostly associate with ancient Egypt is the Ptolemaic dynasty, named after Ptolemy I, a Macedonian general of Alexander the Great; so, while they are geographically Africans, ethnically, the higher circles were Greek descendants. Combine that with a lot of inbreeding happening in those years (with brothers getting married and having children considered mostly natural within royalty), and we can infer that those traits were passed on all the way down to Cleopatra.

So, this is less an example of Hollywood whitewashing an African Empire's family, and more about they actually getting it right, at least in this case.

Of course, that is mostly about the Pharaoh and his family... The rest of Egypt was as racially diverse as it could be expected of an Empire near the intersection of many other ethnically diverse empires.

Except Bob specifies that by 'ancient' Egypt, he's talking about the period between about 6000 and 300 BC, before Alexander. This is biblical Egypt, and has nothing to do with the lineage that Cleopatra belonged to.

I don't recognize the actor playing Ramses, but he looks Middle Eastern too me. Hopefully, Scott learned his mistake from Prometheus and kept Damon Lindelof the hell away from the script for this one.
Also, Bob, no mention of Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt? Come on!

ayvee:
There are reasons we could give to explain the discrepancy (like the ancient Scandinavians not being exposed to the full breadth of Asgardian culture) but they're are secondary to the simple fact that Marvel Norse mythology is not actual Norse mythology. It's not even based on it so much as inspired by it, and it's silly to insist that marvel characters would all need to be white on the basis of our understanding of a history that it has never held to in so many other regards.

You could just as easily argue Heimdall shouldn't exist, or could do so under a different name, and that the Scandinavians didn't know about him either (which would make sense, being the gatekeeper and all). But they didn't, they chose to keep the name, and all the implications therein, but proceeded with a black actor anyway, and that's fine - but don't try to handwave it away as an unimportant detail then and cry foul about it now. Exodus is hardly shaping up to be a true-to-life documentary on ancient Egypt either, there's no sense holding it to a different standard than any other fictional movie.

ayvee:
But tl;dr there are cases where race can be a casting factor, there are cases where it shouldn't. That is the basis of why there's no cognitive dissonance here.

I like how you say "can" first and then "shouldn't", as if the only two options are the one which allows you to call whitewashing in one case and clamor for equality as the rule in the next.

We can't begin to approach any ideal of an equal playing field if we keep holding people to a different standard based on the color of their skin. If Bollywood wants to make an all-Indian cast for an Exodus musical next Christmas, nobody should complain then, or now.

UberPubert:

ayvee:
There are reasons we could give to explain the discrepancy (like the ancient Scandinavians not being exposed to the full breadth of Asgardian culture) but they're are secondary to the simple fact that Marvel Norse mythology is not actual Norse mythology. It's not even based on it so much as inspired by it, and it's silly to insist that marvel characters would all need to be white on the basis of our understanding of a history that it has never held to in so many other regards.

You could just as easily argue Heimdall shouldn't exist, or could do so under a different name, and that the Scandinavians didn't know about him either (which would make sense, being the gatekeeper and all). But they didn't, they chose to keep the name, and all the implications therein, but proceeded with a black actor anyway, and that's fine - but don't try to handwave it away as an unimportant detail then and cry foul about it now. Exodus is hardly shaping up to be a true-to-life documentary on ancient Egypt either, there's no sense holding it to a different standard than any other fictional movie.

ayvee:
But tl;dr there are cases where race can be a casting factor, there are cases where it shouldn't. That is the basis of why there's no cognitive dissonance here.

I like how you say "can" first and then "shouldn't", as if the only two options are the one which allows you to call whitewashing in one case and clamor for equality as the rule in the next.

We can't begin to approach any ideal of an equal playing field if we keep holding people to a different standard based on the color of their skin. If Bollywood wants to make an all-Indian cast for an Exodus musical next Christmas, nobody should complain then, or now.

Yes, you "could." You "could" do a lot of things. And I would hardly call keeping the name, or whatever else they did with the character, keeping "all of the implications." It IS an unimportant detail in that case, it wouldn't be an unimportant detail in other cases. And it's clearly not a true-to-life documentary, but there's still a distinction between using ancient Egypt as a setting and using fantasy space that some dude on ancient earth got some information about one time.

And I worded it that way because I'm not 100% sold on the idea that a role should ever be given or refused based entirely on race, as some kind of authoritarian rule. That goes both ways, it's not just about whitewashing. I'm not even sold on the idea that this movie in particular is whitewashing, all I've been trying to do is point out how thinking that it (or anything else) is while also thinking Heimdall's race shouldn't matter is not a contradiction.

Pallindromemordnillap:
Meh, think I'll stick with Dreamworks' Prince of Egypt thanks. I always thought that one managed to do the relationship between Moses and Rameses particularly well and did a good job not over-glorifying the Ten Plagues by demonstrating the horrific impact they were having both on Egypt and Moses himself

Totally agree with you there. Prince of Egypt was a phenomenal film, and while I'm not religious in any way, did a great job depicting a story I am rather fond of.

ayvee:
It IS an unimportant detail in that case, it wouldn't be an unimportant detail in other cases.

As I said, like a documentary. Or a biographical film, or one trying to address race issues, none of which I think Exodus or Thor qualifies for.

ayvee:
And it's clearly not a true-to-life documentary, but there's still a distinction between using ancient Egypt as a setting and using fantasy space that some dude on ancient earth got some information about one time.

Why the blitheness? Our knowledge on Ancient Egypt is also based on scant evidence and mostly hearsay from equally old records, and the exact story Exodus is trying to portray is based on a religious myth with even less historical ground to stand on. Why the distinction at all if everything depicted only exists to serve the fantastical epic that's being portrayed? Did you also happen to notice the actors weren't speaking fluent Egyptian as well?

ayvee:
I'm not even sold on the idea that this movie in particular is whitewashing, all I've been trying to do is point out how thinking that it (or anything else) is while also thinking Heimdall's race shouldn't matter is not a contradiction.

But the poster you quoted was specifically referring to Exodus, in a topic about Exodus, which is only based on a story from Judeo-Christian mythology. How is that any different in these circumstances?

When I first started that trailer (having not read the article yet) I was excited. I've always liked Sword and Sandles movies and there is not enough of them about the ancient world. If you could get someone do a highlight walk through of Roman history from its conception to end you would have a series that would make Game of Thrones look tame. But after seeing that trailer... it just looks so bland. It looks sort of like a parody of those 50's and 60's epics that bob was talking about. Nothing about that trailer got me at all excited DESPITE the fact there hasn't been a epic historical movie since like Alexander or at least I can't think of one off the top of my head. I hope I'm wrong and that the marketing team that made the trailer just stinks at their job but I don't think so.

I want to know why they can't even be assed to get an actor to play Moses who's, uh, yannow, Jewish. Because, geez, a Jewish actor? Where the hell are you gonna find one of those in Hollywood? You might as well be searching for the Holy Grail in Alaska, amirite?

But seriously. I get why no self-respecting Jewish actor would want to play Jesus, but the Exodus is as much a figure of their religion and culture as it is for Christians, if not moreso. Even the "non-practicing" ones regard it as part of their culture, even if they no longer believe it was an actual thing that happened. I mean, The Prince of Egypt's producer Jeff Katzenburg treated it as a passion project. That's gotta count for something.

Burnouts3s3:

Back in the 1990's, Roger Ebert said that Aladdin has features like an American High Schooler while Jafar had more stereotypical features like a crooked nose, darker skin, etc.

Which was accurate. And not really just for Al, but for the lead cast.

Then there's the paradox where if you go the other way, you make the supposedly ethnic character have too many features similar to a supposed 'Caucausin culture', they're suddenly 'Oreos' (black on the outside, white on the inside).

Which you won't hear from a mainstream audience.

I mean, there are legit concerns with both. The latter may not be as big of a deal, but there's a tendency to try and weed out any potentially alienating elements of black culture (or any other culture, really) in order to make black people less threatening.

I'm more forgiving in live action versions of this because a majority of Hollywood are white actors (which is a problem that we should discuss another time) and the producers want big names.

But it's rare that black actors are even considered (unless they're Will Smith or Morgan Freeman) and they tend to not get to be big because of that exact same reason. Hollywood logic is that black people can't carry this kind of movie. Or basically anything other than goofy comedies or prestige films on a larger level. Hell, George Lucas met resistance over Red Tails even though the same industry greenlit Episodes 1-3.

Sleekit:
im just wondering but if a Norse god can be black why can't moses be white ?...

Aside from one being a myhtological figure and one being a supposed figure in history? Or one being portrayed as an alien in a comic book movie while the other one is supposed to be accurate (at least as far as a Bible movie can be)?

Well, strictly speaking, there's no reason Moses can't be white. That doesn't make the comparison an accurate or honest one, though.

Though I wouldn't say Moses is so much the issue as "almost the entire primary cast" is. So maybe I'm disqualified from answering?

hermes200:
One important point that Bob doesn't address (at least, not directly), is that the Egyptian Emperors were pretty much white. The ones we mostly associate with ancient Egypt is the Ptolemaic dynasty, named after Ptolemy I, a Macedonian general of Alexander the Great

This is more or less not important, as the movie uses the historical Pharoah Ramesses II as the Biblical Pharoah, who died roughly a thousand years before Ptolemy's time.

UberPubert:

You could just as easily argue Heimdall shouldn't exist, or could do so under a different name, and that the Scandinavians didn't know about him either (which would make sense, being the gatekeeper and all). But they didn't, they chose to keep the name, and all the implications therein, but proceeded with a black actor anyway, and that's fine - but don't try to handwave it away as an unimportant detail then and cry foul about it now.

What implications? The implications that already exist in Marvel comics is that those silly savages were too primitive to know that they were telling stories about super-advanced aliens who live in grand technological expanses. I've always failed to understand specifically why it's specifically an issue that the aliens who loosely inspired Norse myth include a black guy or that Thor is now going to be a chick when they have sci-fi cities and can be whooped by the Green Goblin.

Exodus, however, is apparently embracing history. Granted, it is on dubious grounds by doing so through a series of oral traditions now codified in the Old Testament or Tanakh, (though in this country I have no doubt it is probably intended to be the former), but it's not portraying the Bible as a fairy tail, let alone filtering it through the lens of a comic book. Honestly, I'd love it if they did. These are not historical stories being told. But really? That ain't gonna happen.

hermes200:
One important point that Bob doesn't address (at least, not directly), is that the Egyptian Emperors were pretty much white. The ones we mostly associate with ancient Egypt is the Ptolemaic dynasty, named after Ptolemy I

Wait, what?

Don't most people think of time the pyramids were built when they think of ancient Egypt?

Lieju:

hermes200:
One important point that Bob doesn't address (at least, not directly), is that the Egyptian Emperors were pretty much white. The ones we mostly associate with ancient Egypt is the Ptolemaic dynasty, named after Ptolemy I

Wait, what?

Don't most people think of time the pyramids were built when they think of ancient Egypt?

Oh, i think that the (supposedly) super hot queen Cleopatra looms just as large when you ask the average man about Egypt.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty was the very last Dynasty though and ruled in a time long after what we consider ancient Egypt so i'm not sure they can be an example of the rulers being white. Their Egypt was more Greek then ancient Egyptian.

Hades:

Lieju:

hermes200:
One important point that Bob doesn't address (at least, not directly), is that the Egyptian Emperors were pretty much white. The ones we mostly associate with ancient Egypt is the Ptolemaic dynasty, named after Ptolemy I

Wait, what?

Don't most people think of time the pyramids were built when they think of ancient Egypt?

Oh, i think that the (supposedly) super hot queen Cleopatra looms just as large when you ask the average man about Egypt.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty was the very last Dynasty though and ruled in a time long after what we consider ancient Egypt so i'm not sure they can be an example of the rulers being white. Their Egypt was more Greek then ancient Egyptian.

Lot of people get them all mixed up, yes.

Ronack:
I saw pictures of the sphinxes they've built for the film. The Sphinxes are whitewashed. They fudging whitewashed the fudging sphinxes. This movie is pretty much an evidence piece for everything wrong with Hollywood.

Ugh, they didn't paint the Sphinx? What the hell, they didn't just leave statues white, they painted the shit out of them.

Oh, we can narrow it down a lot: It's not likely that they resembled the peoples of China or Japan, for example, just on the basis of geography. It's also not likely that the average Egyptian looked much like Christian Bale -- though, technically, he's not actually playing an Egyptian in Exodus. But otherwise, it seems as possible for the persons who originally settled the area (believed to have occurred in the Neolithic period) to have been dark-skinned peoples from further south in Africa as it does for them to have been Semitic-looking peoples hailing from what we'd now call the broader Mideast.

Ancient Egyptian itself is a semitic language. So there is a cultural continuity from at least the Naqadan (~4400 BC) to the fading out of ancient Egypt in 3rd century AD and the language that they all spoke was a smectic one. Which is strongly indicative of at least a large percentage of ancient egypt's early population were semites. Moving on to New Kingdom Egypt the Medjay, the Egyptian word for nubians, formed a paramilitary police force. They would be guarding important sites like the valley of the kings and associated workshops. The only people that can be positively identified as black in New Kingdom Egypt were guards at high value sites. Due to actually having his body we can say without doubt that Ramses (II) the Great had red hair.

As to Richard Pryor being the only black pharaoh, well he is likely to remain so for a long time. The only positively identifiable Black pharaohs was the XXV dynasty. They ruled Egypt from 760 BC to 656 BC, they invaded Egypt to restore religious purity after what they regarded as corruption under the previous Libyan dynasties. In particular they wanted to reverse the change to the cult of Amun that had taken place under 200 years of Libyan rule. Black religious fanatics invading a country to impose their religious views is not a film hollywood is going to make in hurry.

UberPubert:
[

Why the blitheness? Our knowledge on Ancient Egypt is also based on scant evidence and mostly hearsay from equally old records, and the exact story Exodus is trying to portray is based on a religious myth with even less historical ground to stand on. Why the distinction at all if everything depicted only exists to serve the fantastical epic that's being portrayed? Did you also happen to notice the actors weren't speaking fluent Egyptian as well?

Thats not actually true, in terms of New kingdom Egypt the chronology is good enough in some place to pin events down to a month. We even have some of the diplomatic correspondence from the reign of Amenhotep III to the early years of Tutankhamun. We even have letter from the Hittite king Hattusili III to the Pharaoh Ramesses II, in which the king complains of having sore feet. Ramesses II is one of the likely candidates for the events exodus possibly happening. Incidentally Ramesses II had red hair.

It would be hard for me to give fewer fucks. They could cast 100% albinos and I'd be okay with. It's a movie, I want the story good and the cast attractive, I give few shits about what races they choose to meet that criteria.

Considering that this is what Rameses II looked like (assuming the statue creators actually tried to capture his likeness), I think a black actor to play him would have been the best choice.

I mean, come on. This is the Moses story - everyone's already expecting that the people in a movie about it would look either Middle Eastern or African. You don't have to white-wash it simply because you're too lazy to find actors/actresses who more look the part, and you especially don't need to selectively white-wash the good guys.

I thought people had alreay spent the Idris Elba as Heimdall example as a justificiation for Johnny Depp as Tonto? Or was that for when Katniss Everdeen went from dark, olive skin to white? No, wait, I think it was when Khan was played by Benedict Cumberbatch, the whitest person in human history. Ooh, no, was it for Avatar: The Last Airbender? Nevermind, we've kept it saved all that time as justification for one of the main Egyptian characters to be played by a white actor. Wait, what's that? All the main characters are played by white actors?

image

Well gee, it sure is a good thing that Idris Elba playing one minor character is enough to justify every bit of whitewashing, forever. Not to mention that nothing stopped people from flipping their shit about that back then, but now it's brought up all the time to defend the opposite.

Or alternatively, compare and contrast the sphinx from the film to the real thing:

image image

WiseBass:
Considering that this is what Rameses II looked like (assuming the statue creators actually tried to capture his likeness), I think a black actor to play him would have been the best choice.

I mean, come on. This is the Moses story - everyone's already expecting that the people in a movie about it would look either Middle Eastern or African. You don't have to white-wash it simply because you're too lazy to find actors/actresses who more look the part, and you especially don't need to selectively white-wash the good guys.

So what you're saying is, screw any of those white actors who really want the job and work super hard at it, just get some random black guys because that would be less racist.

Awesome.

madster11:

WiseBass:
Considering that this is what Rameses II looked like (assuming the statue creators actually tried to capture his likeness), I think a black actor to play him would have been the best choice.

I mean, come on. This is the Moses story - everyone's already expecting that the people in a movie about it would look either Middle Eastern or African. You don't have to white-wash it simply because you're too lazy to find actors/actresses who more look the part, and you especially don't need to selectively white-wash the good guys.

So what you're saying is, screw any of those white actors who really want the job and work super hard at it, just get some random black guys because that would be less racist.

Awesome.

Yes. That is exactly what he is saying, and is no way a ridiculous exaggeration or a straw-man argument. "Get the best actor you can who actually looks the part" now means "Just grab some random black guys, whatever."

And I'm willing to bet you any amount of money that Christian Bale, at the very least, did not have to work hard to get this part.

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