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Fake History: Black actors in white roles

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Vince_Ulam, May 27, 2018.

  1. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I do not agree with everything this man says in his video or on his channel but I admit to finding it jarring to see black actors portraying figures from European history & legend whose skin colour was not black and for whose contextually anomalous ethnicity no account is given.

    I doubt this growing phenomenon is planned in any way but with time the effect on younger generations will be the same as though it were, a Whiggish rewrite of history in which current liberal values around culture are seen as eternal and from which all taint of racism is scrubbed. Racism was historically & politically inevitable when ethically & culturally different populations began to meet, which is not to say that it is something we should preserve or should constantly rehearse in our drama, but young people need to understand that up to now cultures the world over have historically been almost exclusively politically ethnocentric and in population ethnically homogeneous, often in conflict with one another rather than with orcs & ogres or some other fantasy enemy, yet still have managed to achieve great things and move beyond their prejudices.

    As adults we have had the benefit of an education largely unaugmented by broadcast & social media so we are unaffected by exotic casting choices, but our pupils swim in this stuff and, like fish in water, have no reason to wonder at it. Is it fair to allow them, regardless of their ethnicity, to believe that our historic & legendary forebears lived in a multicultural golden age?
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
    peter12171, lexus300 and artboyusa like this.
  2. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    It doesn't worry me, if it doesn't impact the story told.
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Dramas contain messages superior to superficial narrative.
  4. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Could Idris Elba play Enoch Powell?

    Could Dennis Quaid play Martin Luther King Jr?
    blazer and Vince_Ulam like this.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Has, say, Jesus always been played by actors of Middle Eastern origin?


    Apparently not... So why get upset now by Black actors playing 'white' characters?o_O
  6. install

    install Star commenter

    In the words of my favourite singer Bob Marley - 'If you know your history then you would know where you coming from' :cool:

    This applies to everyone.
    towncryer and Vince_Ulam like this.
  7. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    No one cares when a white man plays Jesus.
    towncryer and sparkleghirl like this.
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Except for historians.
    BetterNow likes this.
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Good to see (if he is Middle Eastern and played Jesus - I don't recognise him) - but plenty of rather white actors have played him in the past, and few complained about that at the time. So the pendulum is now swinging the other way...
    towncryer likes this.
  11. install

    install Star commenter

    There are several types of false histories. Mythical film versions being sadly are one popular type that seems to please the masses, bow to current fashions and to make lots of money.:cool:
    Last edited: May 27, 2018
  12. sadscientist

    sadscientist Senior commenter

    In legend or fiction, I don't think it matters unless it is germane to the plot.

    In history, I think what we know as historical fact should be represented.
    The representation of Jesus, I suppose, falls somewhere between the two.
    peter12171 likes this.
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    Sadly it seems there is still always a tendency regardless of skin colour to use what is regarded as 'good looking' actors to play hero types or good types. This is especially true of actors playing the Jesus role :rolleyes:
    peter12171 and sparkleghirl like this.
  14. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    So Jamie Foxx is to play Little John in Hollywood's latest effort at Robin Hood (can't be worse than the Russell Crowe snorefest).

    I don't have an issue with that... Little John is mythical anyway... or legendary... one of them.

    Morgan Freeman was in Prince of Thieves and he was great. Though I think the biggest outcry on that was from middle eastern folks annoyed at a black American actor playing a 'moor'.. A term usually used to refer to Mediterranean Muslims. There is supposed to be some irritation at black actors getting the Othello role as he is supposed to be a moor too.

    Ah well...
  15. towncryer

    towncryer Lead commenter

    Acting is just an interpretation of a story or a role so I don't think skin colour matters all that much....the quality of the acting would concern me more. I saw the lead role in Hamlet played by an asian....it was brilliant and skin colour/nationality was not an issue.
  16. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    And the question has to be... how far do we go?

    I'm a fan of Rome from HBO/BBC.

    Lots of Brit actors in the main roles. Not so many Italians...
    Vince_Ulam and sparkleghirl like this.
  17. install

    install Star commenter

    And fictional films are of course not history - but far more an indicator of present tastes and potential propaganda than we realise :cool:
  18. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Might we be confusing the ability of an actor or actress to portray a character, and the role they are playing? Casting Sophie Okonedo as Margaret of Anjou, in the Hollow Crown, hardly matters as Shakespeare's portrayal of her bears little relation to the historical character.
  19. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Or Elizabeth Taylor is Cleopatra. Or John Wayne as Genghis Khan, or Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson. The list goes on and on of white people taking roles of either real or fictional characters who either were or were originally written as ethnic minorities.

    Indeed. I saw Amadeus at the theatre last year, with Lucian Msamati as Salieri, and it was absolutely phenomenal.

    Then of course there's my ultimate favourite thing of all time at the moment, Miranda's masterpiece Hamilton, which features a very diverse cast playing well known historical figures.

    It doesn't detract from the story at all, and I don't think it will confuse children who will suddenly think that George Washington was black. Even if they did, there have been decades when we've been happy to think of white people as the default for almost every major figure from Jesus to Santa, will it really cause that much damage if that presumption is ever so slightly undermined by the presence of minority actors playing traditionally white roles? I don't think so.
  20. 10000YearsBC

    10000YearsBC Occasional commenter

    To date I have only seen one documentary about humankind's migration out of Africa and across Europe where the reconstructors for the later periods were of African ethnicity. Logically the early homo sapiens sapiens migrants must have been darker skinned, and darker skin would have remained in the gene pool for some time until skin became lighter through living in more northern latitudes. The body shape of many so called "Venus" figurines from the Old Stone Age has striking similarities to more recent African tribal art. We're all African deep down, only the tint varies.
    sparkleghirl likes this.

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