Friday, 18 June 2010
Queen of Denial
Once again, political correctness has run away with historical fact. There are reports that American actress, Angelina Jolie, is being considered for a lavish biopic based on the life of the Ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Cleopatra.
However, some online commentators are complaining that it should be "an actress of colour" who plays Cleopatra.
Cleopatra was the descendant of a Greek general who seized the Egyptian throne after the death of Alexander the Great. She wasn't even ethnically Egyptian, let alone sub-Saharan African! There are NO comments in any Roman sources mentioning that Cleopatra was of another race and the surviving coins from her reign show her to have had Caucasian features. She was ethnically Greek and given Jolie's look - and the fact that she's already played a Greek royal, in the movie Alexander - it's difficult not to see this as a petulant and frankly stupid attempt to re-write history without taking any of its reality into account.
Now, if they were doing a movie about, say, Pharaoh Piankhi - who was black and originally King of Nubia - then casting a Caucasian would be senselessly offensive. But the story of Cleopatra is the story of an Egyptian-born, Greek-descended absolute monarch, whose entire life was spent facing the north and the west (Greece and Rome) not south to Africa. Her culture, her race and even her style of politics all placed her within the ancient Egyptian traditions of the pharaohs, but also the intrigue and style of the Hellenistic world and the Orient. I don't understand why people try to re-write history to suit the present.
More on the 'story' - here.