May 29, 2023
Netflix’s new pseudo-documentary Queen Cleopatra has now finally been released, having drummed up loads of free publicity via the simple expedient of misleadingly casting a black actress in the role of Cleo herself, thereby implying she was less Queen of the Nile, more Queen Latifah.
Gullible columnists (like me, right here, right now…) meekly served up acres of column inches, guaranteeing the show much higher viewing figures than it deserved. Lesson learned, Netflix’s forthcoming The Nelson Mandela Story starring Ray Winstone in the title role and Wesley Snipes as F.W. de Klerk has just been greenlit.
As previously detailed on Taki’s, the Egyptian government wasn’t best pleased about such “blackwashing,” accusing Netflix of “a falsification of history and a blatant historical fallacy,” as the real-life Cleopatra was probably of Greek-Macedonian descent, and so a tanned white Mediterranean type. To add insult to injury, the black actress cast to play Cleo, Adele James, was British, and therefore a de facto representative of Cairo’s former colonial-era masters: At least they didn’t cast Diane Abbott in the role.
Infamy! Infamy! They’ve All Got It Infamy!
In interviews, James was open about the filmmakers’ motives for pretending Cleopatra was black: “It is political.” How so? “To be black or mixed-race or a non-white person in the world today, especially in the Western world, is a kind of political act in and of itself,” she huffed, with the haughtiness of an absolute monarch. If so, this by definition pushes being white in the West into a correspondingly political act too, one of either enforced submission toward, or resistance against, increasing cultural and political colonization by self-entitled black people from within. In other words, it’s an excellent way of sparking a low-level race war.
Just such a conflict was successfully fueled in Egypt itself, where a lawyer tried to get Netflix banned, and the government announced the funding of their own rival documentary, depicting Cleopatra in much more accurate racial terms (i.e., like Elizabeth Taylor smeared with tea bags).
This negative reaction, said James, just spoke to how much some Egyptians “would prefer to distance themselves from the rest of Africa,” which is to say, the sub-Saharan black portion of the continent; an understandable attitude, you may have thought, as Egyptians are clearly proud brown North African Arab types, not black Negroes. And, despite living in Britain, a majority-white country, don’t the likes of James wish to ostentatiously distance themselves from the vast mass of their own Caucasian countrymen by playing such racial games, too?
No, because black people can never be prejudiced, and any objection to James’ casting was “deeply rooted in racism,” unlike her own statements. Apparently, “the only people who will consider this [casting] radical” are modern-day plebs, and “it would not have been radical for her time.” How does this fit in with her previous specific assertion that it was a daring and overtly “political” act, then?
“To reduce her or any of us simply to our heritage or our race is very reductive,” James added, apparently arguing for the idea of color-blind casting—which, in this context, means black people being allowed to play whoever they like, whilst simultaneously decrying Laurence Olivier portraying Othello as an act of incredible Nazism. At least Larry bothered to rub some boot polish on to actually look the part first. James couldn’t even be arsed to give her own face a quick coat of Tipp-Ex.
A Drum, a Drum, Blackbeth Doth Come!
But color-blind casting too now poses problems, given the deliberately induced racial neuroses of our times. Even when casting of historical roles is supposed to be color-blind, as with 2021’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, in which Denzel Washington played the title role, it can inevitably lead to ideologically motivated viewers projecting their own obsessive racial psychoses onto the roles, irrespective of what the original creators intended. According to Washington, his multiethnic Blackbeth ensemble was employed purely on talent, being “black, white, blue, green, or whatever,” thus empowering even members of Hollywood’s hitherto marginalized martian and Smurf communities.
Yet the actress hired as Lady Macbeth, Frances McDormand, was hideously white, leading one critic, Lyvie Scott of website slashfilm.com, to conclude that “in the hands of Washington and McDormand, the Macbeths’ relationship takes on an entirely new layer of subtext,” i.e., a completely imaginary one, conjured up by Weird Sister Scott herself. “It’s difficult to ignore the power imbalance—and the moral disparity—between a Black Macbeth and his white wife,” she wrote.
What Scott seems to mean is that Macbeth—hitherto played by Washington with “the relaxed, uncle-like approach that has endeared the actor to so many in his decades-long career”—would have been a lovely, cuddly person and would never, ever have murdered King Duncan without the destructive, tempting influence of his wicked whitey bitch-wife. Shakespeare implied similarly, of course, but never suggested this had anything to do with her being a white woman; because, in the original 1606 play, everyone involved was clearly white. Lady M has no specific first name indicated in the cast list, but we can presume it was not secretly “Karen.”
Black & White Cinema
If society is now hypnotized by CRT witches to see racial matters everywhere it looks, then by definition there can no longer really be any “color-blind casting” at all, as enlightened entities like Scott will automatically spot the “moral disparity” between any given white and black pairings on screen to the black character’s inevitable, unearned advantage, even if the two characters in question happen to be Idi Amin and whichever missionary he’s eating for dinner that evening.
Plus, if racially incoherent casting makes a left-winger react “positively” like this, what is to prevent a political opponent reacting in a negative, politically reversed fashion, too? Imagine a cinemagoing Grand Wizard of the KKK’s reaction to the emotive sight of a black Macbeth stabbing an elderly white man to steal his crown and property: “Is this a nigger I see before me? Probably, he’s involved in knife crime.”
This imagined antiblack reaction against Mr. Washington may be equally as spurious as the real-life antiwhite one against Ms. McDormand detailed above, but only one would be likely to get you thrown out of the cinema if you gave open voice to it whilst chomping your popcorn.
“Obviously we [the cast] are diverse,” Denzel Washington benignly told interviewers, but surely society was now “at a place” where such things “shouldn’t even be mentioned,” just taken for granted. With incredible naivety like that, you can see how his wife so easily managed to make him stab someone.
The Past Ain’t What It Used to Be
It is perfectly possible to create artistically worthwhile racial reimaginings of historical or semi-historical figures, as with Akira Kurosawa’s versions of Macbeth (Throne of Blood) and King Lear (Ran) set in feudal-era Japan—but they were aesthetic triumphs performed for purely artistic reasons, not bizarre efforts to persuade viewers the central figures had yellow skin.
Queen Cleopatra is completely different, being stacked with Afrocentrist (shit-)talking heads like Shelley Haley, a black Classicist who informs viewers that, when a child, her grandmother informed her that “Shelley, I don’t care what they tell you in school…. Cleopatra was black.” Based on what, precisely? The fact her grandmother thought Cleopatra was downtrodden, just like she was.
In an essay, Haley explains how the Gorgon Medusa was also black, even though she was a wholly mythological nonhuman monster with living snakes for hair, or maybe just some really nappy dreadlocks. Allegedly, Medusa’s “decapitation by Perseus represents the rape and cultural suppression of Africa by Europeans.” Do these solipsists really not see what they’re doing to Cleopatra also represents the “rape and cultural suppression of Arabs” to many outraged Egyptians?
According to fellow Netflix talking head Dr. Islam Issa, meanwhile, “Everyone can imagine her in their own way. I imagine her to have curly hair like me and a similar skin color.” Okay, I imagine her as looking like Grace Kelly with a swastika tattooed on her forehead. Is that acceptable?
Talk Crap Like an Egyptian
Woke Western history is no longer to be based on tedious things like actual facts, simply on flattering the imaginations of self-fellating black people. This can be seen clearly in an absurd NY Times op-ed, “Fear of a Black Cleopatra,” published on 10 May by two (white) U.S. professors, Drs. Gwen Nally and Mary Hamil Gilbert. Drawing on the innovative research performed inside Shelley Haley’s grandmother’s head whilst asleep in her school History class, they explained how, though the real Cleopatra may well not have been physically Nubian, nonetheless “Cleopatra was culturally black.”
Whilst Cleopatra did not actually have black skin, she was still black anyway, because she was “part of a culture and history that has known oppression and triumph, exploitation and survival.” Right. So she was actually Jewish, then? Or, today, a Western white man.
“The intersection of Cleopatra’s race and gender [not “sex,” note: This is the NYT] resulted in a form of oppression that cast her heritage and sexuality as particularly dangerous,” the authors continued. But Cleopatra wasn’t particularly oppressed, being, you know, Queen of All Egypt and stuff. Egypt had one of the greatest empires of the ancient world. It enslaved other people, including black Nubians from what is now Sudan.
Nevertheless, argue the authors, “Cleopatra’s experience was part of a history of oppression of Black women” anyway, and “Reclaiming Cleopatra as black and choosing to portray her now as a Black woman highlights this history.” That word, “Reclaiming,” is Ebonic English for “Pretending,” I think.
History is written by the victors, and the victors of our current culture wars are the racially motivated left. Still, if they ever change their minds, they could always play with people’s heads anew by saying Cleopatra was white after all, as proven by the fact her Evil Empire traded in black Nubian slaves from their civilization’s Deep South.
As always, the last word about Queen Cleo should go to that great black Nigerian playwright and poet, William Mbuemo Shakespeare:
Age cannot wither her,
Nor custom stale her infinite variety;
One week she’s Aryan,
The next week Nubian,
A perfect vehicle for racial piety.