Gal Gadot will play in the upcoming biopic about Cleopatra, whose casting has caused controversy and accusations of “whitewashing”, which is perniciously erroneous.
Gal Gadot will play the main role in the upcoming biopic Cleopatra, although her casting has become a source of controversy, and some have called it a “whitewash”. This description is harmful not only for understanding the personality of Wonder Woman Gal Gadot, but also for Cleopatra herself. Despite significant evolution in recent years, the film industry still needs to improve in terms of diversity and representation, but the choice of Gal Gadot as Cleopatra is not an example of whitewashing.
The film industry has a long history of casting white actors for non-white roles, which is a sign of institutional racism that persists to this day. Classic films such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Ten Commandments and Breakfast at Tiffany’s are just a few examples in which white actors play non—white characters, sometimes quite offensively. More recent examples include “Gods of Egypt,” “Lord of the Elements,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” proving that the film industry’s penchant for whitewashing is alive and well.
Gal Gadot’s casting for the role of Cleopatra in the upcoming film caused controversy after it was announced, and many believe that this is the latest example of the problem of whitewashing the film industry and that a Middle Eastern actress would be a more suitable choice for the role of the Egyptian queen. . However, historically Cleopatra was a Greek woman of white Macedonian descent (like all Ptolemaic rulers), whose rule preceded the Arab invasions of Egypt. In addition, Gal Gadot is an Israeli actress of Ashkenazi descent, which makes statements about “whitewashing” a pernicious example of misunderstanding and erasing her Jewish identity.
What’s Wrong with the Cleopatra Whitewash Controversy
Cleopatra reigned as queen of Egypt from 52 to 30 BC, but she did not belong to Egyptian nationality, having mostly Greek-Macedonian ancestry with perhaps a small degree of Persian ancestry. There are theories that her mother may have had Egyptian or African roots, but her ethnicity is simply unknown. However, Cleopatra’s father descended from Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy I Soter, like all the rules of Alexandria, Egypt, at that time, and Cleopatra’s brothers and sisters, as far as researchers know, were Greek-Macedonians. Choosing an Arab actress for the role of Cleopatra would not necessarily be inappropriate, but it would be historically inaccurate, since the Arab colonization of Egypt began centuries after Cleopatra’s death. Although Gal Gadot is not an Egyptian, her choice in the role of Cleopatra is not a whitewash.
Gal Gadot’s Ashkenazi heritage means that her ancestors are indigenous to the Levant, but were moved to Europe by the diaspora, where they were systematically oppressed for generations. Ashkenazi Jews were oppressed in Europe for not being “white,” so calling Gadot’s casting a whitewash means erasing both her ethnicity and the long European history of anti—Semitism. The harmful practice of whitewashing in the film industry is still a glaring problem, but Gal Gadot’s role as Cleopatra is not part of the problem, as she is a Levantine actress playing a Greek historical figure.