Wonder-Woman playing Cleopatra sparks racial controversy

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There is perhaps no better way to spark discussion in modern society than to evoke ethnicity, race, or gender, and with that in mind I ask you, the reader, to stick to my comments. sides throughout this article, whatever his sensitivity gets. Ancient Origins doesn’t want to take sides, but just try to determine if there really is an answer in this debate. But what we have before us here is the hazardous task of navigating together the latest racial controversy surrounding the casting of an upcoming Hollywood film telling the story of the legendary Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. It’s going to be bumpy, so buckle up.

What historians say about Cleopatra’s parents

According to Patricia Southern, a highly respected English historian of classical Rome, Cleopatra VII was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt and she was a descendant of its founder Ptolemy I Soter, a Greek Macedonian general and companion of Alexander the Great. This is according to Southern 2007’s book: Antony and Cleopatra: the cursed love story that united ancient Rome and Egypt .

Scholars generally identify Cleopatra as having been of Greek (Macedonian) ancestry with some Persian and Syrian blood, based on evidence that her Macedonian Greek family (the Ptolemaic dynasty) intermingled with the Seleucid aristocracy of the ‘time. But her mother’s true origins remain inconclusive, and this uncertainty fuels much of the debate. The Wonder Woman Cleopatra breed controversy concerns her ancient royal lineage and has certainly created a storm.

Left image: Gal Gadot (Mark Neyman / Government Press Service (Israel) / CC BY-SA 3.0 ). Right image: An ancient Roman sculpture possibly representing Cleopatra of Ptolemaic Egypt, or her daughter, Cleopatra Selene II, Queen of Mauretania, located in the Archaeological Museum of Cherchell, Algeria (Hichem algerino / CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Is the problem the left or right media or the bird itself?

According to a YouGov report, The Guardian , is the main British media for British left-wing political opinion. And its socially liberal content is aimed at “Guardianistas”, who align themselves with the latest “politically correct” trends. Another giant of liberal left-wing narratives is the Israeli media Haaretz (News from the earth). These two media have criticized the “Hollywood cast” for missing the opportunity to give “North African actors greater visibility” and in doing so, “they” prolonged the debate on “Hollywood s colonization of ethnicity ”.

At the heart of Wonder Woman Cleopatra’s story, as you probably know, is Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. She was chosen to play Cleopatra in the Hollywood epic. At 18, Gadot was crowned Miss Israel 2004 before serving for two years in the Israel Defense Forces as a combat readiness / fitness instructor. So, in a way, she was definitely a great choice to play the role of modern Wonder Woman “rightly” in the 2017 Hollywood landmark thriller. She was super fit, super beautiful and she could really act! No questions there!

It’s no surprise that the Wonder Woman Cleopatra controversy also focused on Laeta Kalogridis, the film’s screenwriter, who picked Galdot for the role.

Is it possible that the animators of Ubisoft are closer to the truth with this portrayal of Cleopatra from Assassin’s Creed Origins? ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Was Cleopatra white, black, mixed? The facts are slippery!

When stories like this appear in left-wing media, journalists in right-wing media – like Fox News in the US or the Daily Mail in the UK – sharpen their war pencils and tell their own versions of the history. In this case, they will likely focus on Cleopatra’s father, Ptolemy XII, of Macedonian-Greek descent, which would make her “more” white than brown or even black. And if the war of words between the two camps continues, as is likely, the right might argue that, since the ethnic origins of Cleopatra’s mother are pretty much a mystery, which is to say what the mixed heritage of Cleopatra. For all we know, his mother could have been from Israel. We just don’t know. This argument would undoubtedly call into question the arguments of the other party.

As you might expect, The Guardian supported Gadot’s growing criticism s calling America’s left-wing media “understandable”, and they accuse the American film industry of having “the frustrating habit of whitewashing history.” They go so far as to say that “thanks to white actors such as Elizabeth Taylor, Hildegard Neil, Claudette Colbert and Vivien Leigh”, the Cleopatra films “cemented her Western appearance on the screen”.

Wonder Woman Cleopatra’s uproar is complicated

This position is expected to spark fury among right-wing media camps, which will no doubt soon announce that Gal Gadot was chosen to play the role because she was the most qualified actor for the job. They will keep wondering how The Guardian could possibly suggest a systemic “Hollywood laundering” when there was a casting agent involved, Laeta Kalogridis, screenwriter of the film. The right will therefore argue that even if this one person did make a decision based on race, this is not evidence of systemic “Hollywood laundering”.

Even though Gal Gadot is of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) descent, The Guardian’s perspective is that she plays the part of Cleopatra “perpetuating a white standard of strangeness.” The left is likely to insist that the people of the North African diaspora are offended by poor choices in major international films that concern them. The Guardian has said it before: it is “another example of how the cinema colonizes foreign regions for its own white-centric ends.”

The story of Wonder Woman Cleopatra will not go away and there will likely be boycotts of the film in some areas. But let’s not forget, bad news is good news for all news organizations and Hollywood always seems to survive and surprise. Likely, controversies will continue in the left-right spectrum in the media, and Hollywood will have a new and bigger money generator on our screens right after we see Wonder Woman Cleopatra’s story in theaters again. Or maybe not?

Thank you for staying with me on this journey along the left and right media perspectives, and I would like to… hello?… Hello? I knew it.

Top Image: The Wonder Woman Cleopatra controversy involves this incredibly famous woman whose appearance leaves us perplexed… Source: pure adrenaline / Adobe Stock

Par Ashley Cowie

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