Netflix’s new documentary “Queen Cleopatra” has drawn controversy and “blackwashing” claims after Adele James, a black actress, was cast in the lead role. And yes, historical records show Cleopatra wasn’t black but Macedonian-Greek.
A recent documentary, featured in the African Queens series, delved into the captivating story of the final pharaoh of Egypt, chronicling both their ascension to power and eventual downfall. Despite being released on May 10, the documentary has garnered attention for its disappointing viewership numbers.
The documentary currently has a 2% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which Forbes says is the lowest in history.
The “average Tomatometer” calculates how many critics rate it favourably, stands at 10%.
Here’s how bad that is: The worst film on the movie rating site, Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever,” in 2002 has a 0% rating on the Tomatometer, but a 20% favourable rating by the audience. Another stinker, “One Missed Call” from 2008, also has a 0% Tomatometer but a 20% audience score. And the Nicholas Cage bomb, “Left Behind,” from 2014 got 0% from the critics but 22% from the audience.
Forbes notes that the creator of the series, Tina Gharvi, has defended the casting choice:
“Why shouldn’t Cleopatra be a melanated sister? And why do some people need Cleopatra to be white? Her proximity to whiteness seems to give her value, and for some Egyptians, it seems to really matter. After much hand-wringing and countless auditions, we found in Adele James an actor who could convey Cleopatra’s beauty and strength. What the historians can confirm is that it is more likely that Cleopatra looked like Adele than Elizabeth Taylor ever did.”