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Myth, it’s all a mythtery

No, the reason this series is so problematic, particularly in Egypt, is encapsulated in the words of its producer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife. It is important to tell “stories about black queens,” she said. Pinkett Smith appears to assume that, just because Cleopatra was African, she was black.

This is very, very, African American. Entirely disregarding that the Egyptians used to go on slave trading expeditions down into Black Africa……Nubia being just the start of it….

25 thoughts on “Myth, it’s all a mythtery”

  1. Why couldn’t she make a film about an actual black queen? Im sure there are some who haven’t had movies made about them, and it would stick out from all the stuff already done about Cleopatra, so it’s a win-win.

    Unless Jada was just too lazy to do some research.

  2. For a while Egypt really was ruled by back African kings from Sudan who were overthrown by the Persians ( I think). That would be more apt, Shirley ?

    There is an outside chance that “a” princess Cleo was the daughter of a Nubian concubine but Shakeseare’s one was as Greek as Nana Mouskouri and looked like Amanda Barrie.

  3. Actually, I think Cleopatra is a Greek name. Dunno what the Nubians used to call themselves.

    But I think there were some other Gyppos after the Nubians and before the Persians.

  4. Err, yes – that is what the headline is trying, desperately straining possibly, to echo…..

  5. Cultural appropriation shurely? Possibly there weren’t any black queens / girls who could have their story told without the truth being politically inconvenient, such as the girl who told her tribe to kill all their livestock and the tribe subsequently starved?

  6. Dvdhrf: ’Unless Jada was just too lazy to do some research.’

    She’s done the ‘work’ that’s required; she’s lent her name to the project. Everything else is done by other people.

  7. the girl who told her tribe to kill all their livestock and the tribe subsequently starved

    I’d like to see her story retold, as a cautionary tale for environmentalists.

  8. It is an example of Netflix reading African history through the dull lens of American racial politics

    It puts the BBC in a real bind: should we worship Black People, the Science, or Our NHS?

    If they stick with traditional NHS-worship, the danger is that Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE might say the Establishment is racist.

  9. Also, can we agree that The Arabs getting angry about The Jews hiring a Negro to play a White girl is, if not Peak Clown World, at least a jolly base camp en route?

    King Tut’s sandals didn’t forsee this one.

  10. If I know my Flashman, which I do, I think the story of Queen Ravanalova of Madagascar would be an excellent one to tell.

  11. I can’t wait to see which “African” American will play Elon Musk when his biopic gets made. Well, he is African, isn’t he?

  12. If they want actual Black kingdoms, there’s the Empire of Mali – oooo, slave traders. Ok, Sudan – ooooo slavers. Dahomey…. wait, no.

  13. I wonder how Netflix would treat a serialisation of the Flashman novels? Assuming any of its staff could get through them without having some sort of breakdown.

  14. Boganboy

    Indeed yes.

    The southerners who took over were the Kush, there then followed a bit of an Egyptian renaissance where the natives reasserted themselves and fought off the Assyrians until they eventually succumbed in 670ish BC. The Persians knocked the Assyrians off of their perch around 525 until Alex the Big turned up.

    I guess 800BC when the Kush ran the show is a bit too much for Jada to handle.

  15. I really don’t care about her skin colour.

    I want to know if the actress has enough Presence to get the point across that Cleo could have looked like a minge, or at least a dowdy dove, but represented the opportunity to become a living deity and be claimant to Alex the Big’s legacy.

    Which was what the whole kerfuffle was about at the time…

    Any black actress will have to surpass Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned. Tough job…

  16. “Actually, I think Cleopatra is a Greek name.”

    Yup. The ancient Greeks used Κλεω a lot in their names; it means “to celebrate”. So “Cleopatra” might be translated as “of renowned ancestry”. Which would make sense, given that she was a Ptolemy.

  17. They don’t seem to have any grasp of history. I mean, look at European history – half the monarchs come from some places on the other side of the continent from where they’re ruling and they can’t speak the local language.

    It’s pretty normal that the ‘rulers’ are different.

  18. The other rival to Cleopatra was her sister, Anaglypta. They should do more programmes about her, there was a lot of texture in her short life.

  19. If someone wanted to answer Jada Pinkett-Smith in language she would understand, it would be something like this:

    “Why are you giving the honor of being Black to Cleopatra, the queen of the European colonizers of Egypt? She was born in Africa, but was descended from Africa’s colonizers. Perhaps you should cast Charlize Theron?”

  20. @ottokring

    Wasn’t she married to Artex the Gaul? He drowned by falling into a vat of varnish but had a lovely finish

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