White-washing becomes Biblical

Cameron Morgan, Chattanooga, Tenn. — During spring break I had the opportunity to see “Son of God.” While I am not particularly religious, I thought the film was well done, and I am sure it will be a classic among the slew of religious movies coming out this spring.

Without this religious vantage, I was able to notice things such as setting, design and race.

Jesus, portrayed by Diego Morgado, was the lightest person on the entire cast, next to Pontius Pilate, who was straight up white.

What I am getting at is if you had been running about the Middle East, displaying your religious fervor, you would be more than lightly tanned.

I applaud the casting staff who stayed true to race for Mary Magdalene and Peter, but the attention to race in these characters made Jesus all the more pale in comparison. Let’s not even mention blue-eyed Mary, played by Roma Downey, who is famous for being a heavenly, incredibly white angel on the TV show “Touched by an Angel.”

I understand wanting to put the son of man in a good light, but weren’t his impeccably bleached teeth and carefully combed hair enough?

“Son of God” is among many films that have a history of “white-washing” the cast. So while I applaud a person of color being in a film and I hate to be choosy, I cannot get past the white lens that we have to look through at history and especially in history films.

Even the literal white people in this film had something redemptive about them: Pilate in the Bible gives the Jewish people a vote regarding Jesus’ crucifixion, but even prior to that, we are made to sympathize with his actions through the greater threat of Rome and the threat of his poverty.

“But what about ‘12 Years a Slave’ and all the persons of color that have been recognized for it?”

So, is it only when we need slaves in a film that people of color can be hired?

“No, Cameron, Idris Elba is playing a Norse God in ‘Thor,’ and that’s supposed to be white.”

Thank you. Now, can we talk about the backlash the casting got when it was posted? Especially from the Council of Conservative Citizens who said Marvel was excluding white people from the movie.

White person count in “Thor: Dark World”: at least 20. I stopped counting on the IMDB page because the point still stands: whites outnumber people of color heavily in film, unless that film absolutely needs people of color.

I am all for fantasy and film as an escape from reality, but if the fantasy encapsulates an antiquated notion of white-centrism, that is not a world I want to be a part of.

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