The white washing machine of Hollywood is back in motion, this time regarding a movie about Jalaluddin al-Rumi.
First things first, who was Rumi?
Jalaludding al-Rumi was a Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic born in 1207 CE in Balkh, otherwise known as Afghanistan. He was regarded as one of the greatest Muslim spiritual masters and poetical intellects of all times.
His poems have been widely translated into many languages and has been described as the “most popular poet’ and the “best selling poet’ in the United States. His work has inspired many others and, given the background info, I think it’s just about fair to give this man a valuable and correct tribute.
The movie will be directed David Franzoni, who wrote Gladiator and Stephen Joel Brown, a producer on the Rumi film.
Now what’s the issue, you may ask? Well, I will enlighten you.
The actor they had in mind to play Rumi (remember he was from AFGHANISTAN) is no other than Leonardi DiCaprio. The part of Shams of Tabriz, a significant wandering dervish who altered Rumi’s life would be played by Robert Downey Jr.
“This is the level of casting that we’re talking about” Brown told the Guardian, noting it was too early to begin casting.
This is a classic example of Hollywood whitewashing. In case some of you aren’t aware there are such practices at hand, I will give you some shocking facts.
Hollywood white washing is a kind of casting where film studies have placed white actors in lead roles under the assumption that the majority of Americans would rather see a white face than a non-white – no matters what the role calls for.
These practices are far from new. From the 1961 hit film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, where Mickey Rooney was cast as a Japenese man, stereotypes and all to Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Whenever there’s air for discussion, we can turn to twitter for some (outraged) opinions
The writer & producer of a film about Rumi actually shared this idea out loud, in public, with a reporter. Like… pic.twitter.com/vFQxpZpL1Q
— Imran Siddiquee (@imransiddiquee) June 7, 2016
So they want a white man to play Rumi, a SUFI PERSIAN poet, but when they need a terrorist they find Muslim actors so easily #RumiWasntWhite
— Aayesha (@AayeshaJ) June 7, 2016
— Aamer Rahman (@aamer_rahman) June 6, 2016