"Cleopatra" is one of the latest additions to the streaming giant Netflix, and it's already causing a stir among viewers
The film, which stars Adele James in the title role, has received a shockingly low rating of 1.2 out of 10 on IMDb, based on over 22,000 user reviews.
And its doing no better on Rotten Tomatoes currently its got only 13 percent on the Tomato meter and 1 percent Audience score on over 500 ratings.
British actor Adele James, who is dark-skinned and of mixed heritage, plays the first-century Egyptian ruler as a queen with African heritage, much to the dismay of archaeologists, academics, legal experts and online critics.
This isn't the first time debates have arisen over how Cleopatra should be represented on screen. When Israeli actor Gal Gadot was announced to be playing Cleopatra in a historical drama feature now being directed by Kari Skogland, many naysayers claimed the role should go to an Arab or African actor instead. The Guardian's Hanna Flint called the casting decision "a backwards step for Hollywood representation," while director Lexi Alexander said a Black actor should be cast, per a 2020 BBC report.
As for James' casting, the recent debate is showing people's anti-Black sentiments, although they hide behind cries of historical accuracy. For the record, there has been no conclusive evidence as to the queen's race or skin color. "Queen Cleopatra," executive produced by Jada Pinkett Smith, who told Tudum that the creative choice to cast a biracial actor "is a nod to the centuries-long conversation about the ruler's race."
"We don't often get to see or hear stories about Black queens, and that was really important for me, as well as for my daughter, and just for my community to be able to know those stories because there are tons of them!" she said. "The sad part is that we don't have ready access to these historical women who were so powerful and were the backbones of African nations.
Following last week's trailer release for "Queen Cleopatra," Zahi Hawass, a renowned Egyptian archaeologist and Egyptologist, told Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al-Youm that Cleopatra being Black "is completely fake."
"Cleopatra was Greek, meaning that she was light-skinned, not Black," he said, per the BBC's translation. "Netflix is trying to provoke confusion by spreading false and deceptive facts that the origin of the Egyptian civilization is Black."