So, days ago director Alex Proyas and studio Lionsgate both released seperate apologies regarding the apparent "whitewashing" backlash from the recently released trailer for the upcoming film GODS OF EGYPT (2/26/2016 release date). Here are the respective statements:
“The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”
”We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”
So why shouldn't have these apologies been made? The answer should be obvious, as well as simple.
GODS OF EGYPT is a FANTASY FILM.
And just what does that have to do with the legitimate problem of studio "whitewashing?"
First, we must understand the definition of fantasy;
: something that is produced by the imagination : an idea about doing something that is far removed from normal reality
: the act of imagining something
: a book, movie, etc., that tells a story about things that happen in an imaginary world
By re-examining the definition the answer is plain to see. As a "fantasy" film, it is "far removed from normal reality" and thus the expectation of depicting normal or real life reality should be reduced, or better yet disregarded.
A fantasy film about mythological beings and creatures, like Gods Of Egypt, should not be held to the same standards as reality based genres (ie. historical and contemporary dramas) Should EXODUS have sought out regionally similar looking actors to depict the main cast? Of course, particularly when director Ridley Scott was looking to make a historically accurate film. With ALOHA, Cameron Crowe should have cast an ethnically aligned actress more in line with the character as described in the book the film was based on. Films like these MUST fight against the old Hollywood tradition of "whitewashing." It is a standard of a bygone time and has no place in the new multi-cultural entertainment industry (thank you J.J. Abrams).
BUT, there should also be some restraint when using the oh-so wide paint brush of political correctness. Particularly with regard to fantasy films. If such standards as factual athenticity were forced onto the genre would we have IDRIS ELBA as Heimdall? Or THE ROCK as Hercules? OR even CHADWICK BOSEMAN as Thoth, in a little film called Gods of Egypt. Maybe films like it, or PAN, should be given a little leeway, as fantasy is all about imagination and freedom from reality.