White Men Defend Making Movie with White Men

[Content Note: Racism; racist apologia.]

So, Ridley Scott has made a new epic garbage movie about Moses called Exodus: Gods and Kings. As has been well-documented in this space, I am a person who looooooves a good epic garbage movie, and even I think this looks like trash.

Over the past couple of weeks, lots of people have noted that it has a very white cast, for a film about Middle Eastern people. It stars white Welshman Christian Bale as Moses, and white Australian Joel Edgerton (in brownface? maybe? it looks like?) as Ramses.

I bet you'll be positively SHOCKED to hear that the white men who made this movie and star in this movie are not especially receptive to these eminently reasonable criticisms.

While director Ridley Scott helpfully explained he couldn't have gotten funding for his film if he'd cast "Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such," Fox studio magnate Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to declare Egyptians white, and then "Of course Egyptians are Middle Eastern, but far from black," and then, "Okay, there are many shades of color. Nothing racist about that, so calm down!"


When, over the weekend, Elon James White was discussing the whitewashed film, it reminded me that I'd seen an interview with Christian Bale on Entertainment Tonight the week before, in which his response to criticisms regarding race in Exodus was so amazing I wrote it down.

I later found the clip; the best quote of all the quotes starts at 2:09:

"l don't know that just the fact that I was born in Wales and suffer from this skin that can't deal with the sun should dictate that Ridley should say well in that case he's not the right man for playing the role."

So, you know, basically you're the REAL racist for saying he can't play Moses because of his terrible sun affliction!

Runner-up for best quote comes at 1:03: "I learned about Moses from Charlton Heston." LOLOLOL. Of course you did.

Anyway. None of this is new or surprising, naturally. But I wanted to take the time to point out how both Ridley Scott and Christian Bale are both effectively throwing their hands in the air like they were helpless. Scott asserts he couldn't have gotten funding if he didn't use white actors: "What was I supposed to do?!" Bale asserts he was offered the role and did his best: "What was I supposed to do?!"

Oh, I dunno. Maybe not make the movie then. Maybe don't accept the role.

It's not like either Ridley Scott or Christian Bale need to work to put food on their families. They are exceptionally wealthy men. Who are posturing as though they don't have any options.

They had options. They had a choice to make. They made the wrong one.

And they believe, quite firmly, that pointing that out is a great injustice. That expecting white people to choose not to participate in systems that oppress people of color is an unreasonable expectation. That saying, no matter how gently, hey maybe you could just not, is a form of discrimination, rather than an invitation to expect more of themselves.

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