“Brown people will defend whites more than white people” is not really the correct take here.
Probably, the correct take is that wanting historical accuracy in film is not political, while wanting to remove historical accuracy and just make everyone black is political.
The “everyone in history should be portrayed as black” side of the argument of course suggests that anyone who cares about historical accuracy is a white supremacist, so it probably does eventually become political for those people arguing for accuracy, but it’s not initially.
A decision to cast black actor Denzel Washington as the ancient Carthaginian general Hannibal in an upcoming Netflix film has sparked a small but heated debate in Tunisia, the military general’s birthplace.
After a similar controversy on race and representation in nearby Egypt over a Netflix docudrama about Cleopatra, Tunisian newspapers, social media and even the halls of parliament have seen discussion on the skin tone of the long-dead leader.
French-language Tunisian news outlet La Presse published an article saying the casting created “a historical error”, while on social media, some users accused Netflix of promoting “woke culture”.
It’s actually “an historical error,” but okay.
An online petition signed by 1,300 people urged Netflix to “cancel its pseudo-documentary” and called on the ministry of culture to “take action against the attempt to steal our history”.
Remember when Denzel Washington was cast as Lord Macbeth and white people said nothing?
Hannibal, born in Carthage, near modern-day Tunis, is considered by many to be one of history’s greatest military leaders. During the war against the Romans in 218BC, he led his troops and African war elephants across a high pass in the Alps to strike at Rome from the north.
The issue of race has been brought to the fore in Tunisia recently by the flow of sub-Saharan migrants into the country. President Kais Saied was accused of making an “imaginary enemy” in February when he alleged, without evidence, that migrants were part of a wider campaign to make majority-Arab Tunisia “purely African”.
After Washington’s role was announced by Netflix, Tunisian MP Yassine Mami questioned the culture minister, Hayet Ketat Guermazi, about the project in parliament.
“The ministry should take a position on the subject,” said Mami, who is also the president of the committee on tourism, culture, and services. “This is about defending Tunisian identity and listening to the reactions of civil society,” he said.
Guermazi, speaking in the assembly, said her ministry was instead focused on negotiating with Netflix to shoot some sequences of the film in Tunisia.
“It’s fiction; it’s their right. Hannibal is a historical figure, even if we’re all proud that he’s Tunisian … What could we do?” said Guermazi. “What matters to me is that they shoot even one sequence in Tunisia and mention it. We want Tunisia to become a platform for foreign films again.”
Of course it’s a woman saying that. As if someone needed to explain that they have a right to cast whoever they want in their film. People have rights to do all kinds of things, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to condemn their choices.
This “brown people defend white supremacy against Netflix” thing is becoming a trope.
Earlier this year, Netflix cast Adele James, an actor of mixed heritage, as Cleopatra, which prompted the Egyptian antiquities ministry to publish a statement declaring that the pharaonic leader had “white skin and Hellenistic characteristics”.
It’s a shame that white people are so broken by this bullying that they won’t even resist, while these Arabs just take it for granted that making everyone in history black is an outrage.