When Gal Gadot announced that she is teaming up once again with "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins and the screenwriter of "Shutter Island" and "Alita: Battle Angel" Laeta Kalogridis to do a film version of the life of Cleopatra, you'd think that would be received as good news everywhere. Hollywood is all about inclusion, and here's another movie starring, directed by and written by women. It's about one of the most powerful and influential women who has ever walked the Earth. The only other major release ever done about Cleopatra's life was one of the biggest bombs in box office history. It starred Elizabeth Taylor and adjusted for inflation was the most expensive movie ever made and set a record for most costume changes. I know that because it was the final question of one year of Barstool trivia and getting it wrong cost my team 1,000 bucks. (We guessed "Gone With the Wind" and a table of all guys that we were neck-and-neck with got it right. A gambler always remembers his bad beats).
So it's natural to assume that the internet would rise to their feet and with one loud voice acclaim this welcome news of female empowerment in the male-dominated film industry. But you'd be underestimating Twitter's ability to be outraged over anything. While overestimating how much people know about history, despite having all the information in the world available at their literal fingertips.
Here is a small sample of the backlash Gal Gadot's announcement received:
First of all, I'm going to suppress my rage that anyone would call Gal Gadot "bland looking." Because she has the looks of someone who was born of a marriage between an Amazonian warrior princess and a Greek god. And then their child grew up got impregnated by an angel. And that baby was Gadot. Who grew up and wanted to marry me so we could go live in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean forever. But I don't want to get too lost in the weeds on that.
I'm just here for the history lesson that anyone could have found in five seconds if they weren't so preoccupied with looking for inconsequential nothingburgers to be pissed off about.
Cleopatra was the Pharaoh of Egypt. During the Ptolemaic Dynasty, which was Greek. Her father was Ptolemy XII, whose full name was the pretty Greek sounding Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos Philopator Philadelphos. His lineage goes back to Ptolemy I, who was a companion to Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great. Who exactly Cleopatra's mother was is less clear because they didn't keep great records when it came to females back then. But most likely she was born in 69 B.C. to Cleopatra VI Tryphaena, who we know was the mother of her older sister Berenice. There's some reason to believe one of her grandmothers was Egyptian. But there's no logical argument to be made that a former Miss Israel contestant is ethnically unfit to portray a queen who was at least 3/4 Greek.
Let's address how stupid the argument is that you can't play a role in a movie unless you are identical in every way to the character you're playing. Like last year (a simpler time when we had so little to worry about I guess) that Bryan Cranston had to defend his choice to play a quadriplegic in a movie, on the charge that he was taking a role away from one of Hollywood's many famous paralyzed actors. Taking to it's illogical extreme then, Christian Bale couldn't play Bruce Wayne because he's not an American. Elijah Wood couldn't play Frodo Baggins because he is not of Hobbit descent. Alan Rickman (RIP) couldn't be cast as Hans Gruber because that role should've gone to a formally educated, stylish German criminal mastermind. And Eddie Redmayne could not play Stephen Hawking because only the subset of the population who are brilliant theoretical physicists with debilitating ALS are qualified. (Note: I was going to include Chris Evans playing Captain America. But technically he is a superhero and he does have America's ass.) In other words, no actor would be allowed to actually, you know, act.
Nobody has any argument with any of the above named actresses playing the part either. I've seen them in movies and TV shows. Thandie Newton is great in "Westworld" and the "Mission: Impossible" films. She also happens to be Indian, but that doesn't disqualify her from playing Cleopatra either. Lupita Nyong'o kicked ass in "Black Panther" and was fantastic in "Us." She is Kenyan and Mexican and was born in Mexico City. Again, she could play the part too. Because they are actors, and that would require acting, which is their occupation. It also happens to be Gal Gadot's job, and she is exceptionally good at it.
The point of all this is that it's moronic to argue about the ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual orientation of the people who get paid to pretend to be other people. And that door of idiocy swings both ways. If you've got your knickers in a twist because the titular role in Disney's live action "The Little Mermaid" is going to be played by an African-American girl, you're arguing that the role can only be played by light skinned amphibious female who has a fish tail when she's in the water and legs on land.
And if these are the sorts of things that bother you, my free advice to you is to simply not see the movie. Then all your problems are solved. It's what I do every time Adam Sandler releases another terrible comedy on Netflix, and he's a white hetero male in my general age group. Or you could make you're own movie about any historical figure you want and cast anyone you want and do a better job than Patty Jenkins and teach them a good lesson.
But what you can't do is ever, ever, say anything bad about Gal Gadot's looks again.