Hollywood gave Shakespeare fans a Christmas present: a new version of one of the Bard’s most iconic and gripping tragedies. Although the plandemic delayed production by four months or so, Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth was released on Apple+ on December 25. According to IMDB, it should hit the theaters on January 14. Variety reported that a sneak preview in September was a hit at the New York Film Festival, which had just cautiously reopened:
The NYFF screenings adhered to strict COVID protocols, as guests were told twice before the movie played to keep their masks on — covering both their noses and mouths. . . .
Inside the theater, there were crowds at a bar, as people clamored for a free cocktail with Campari (the festival’s sponsor) and soda.
“I want to point out just because it’s a tragedy it doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time,” Coen said as he introduced the film, which he made without his brother Joel.
Judging from the early reviews and the response at the screening, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” could mean another trip to the Academy Awards for both Washington and McDormand.
I wish I could’ve been there, simply to see the festival-goers sucking down all those cocktails and sodas while pretending to wear their face diapers properly. However, I haven’t watched the movie, and I have no intention of buying a ticket. I’m not even going to pirate it. For all I know, it could be a great show in a lot of ways, but there was a major mistake that ruined it. Thus, that Christmas present turned out to be a lump of coal.
For the Scottish Play’s eponymous character, which Shakespeare based roughly on the eleventh-century King Mac Bethad mac Findlaích, Joel Coen cast Denzel Washington in the role. He certainly can act; that’s not the problem. It’s so obvious that I hardly need to mention that he looks nothing like a native son of Alba. There’s not a scintilla of doubt; one surviving account of the historical Macbeth describes him as a ruddy blond.
Washington certainly isn’t the film’s only black actor cast in a white role. His major rival, Macduff, is played by Corey Hawkins. (He was also recently credited in the miniseries Americanah. Sadly, it appears that the project has been scuttled, but it’ll be a must-see if it ever emerges, since the original book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a stunning triumph of modern literature.) Moses Ingram is in the role of Lady Macduff. She’s pretty charming as far as black ladies go, but nobody would mistake her for a Scottish lass. Ethan Hutchison, partially of Dominican heritage, is cast as their young son, and Madison Randolph (uncredited) plays their daughter.
Finally, there are some minor characters played by blacks, including a few not explicitly named in Shakespeare’s original. The very ethnic-looking James Udom is cast as Seyton, Sean Patrick Thomas is Monteith, Olivia Washington is a children’s nurse, and Mylo Uschold is an uncredited child. Wayne T. Carr is Lady Macduff’s murderer, which technically makes that ghastly part of the vendetta a black-on-black crime.
Thus, of the named characters in the movie, a third of them are black. That kind of demographics just didn’t happen in medieval Scotland. It doesn’t even happen now. This is despite the British government letting in anyone with a pulse (except British or Afrikaners trying to leave Rhodesia or South Africa) for the last several decades. In fact, the sad joke of a politician Hamza Yusuf was complaining bitterly about Scotland being too white. (Dude, GTFO, srsly.) From the film, one would think that Alba was only slightly less African than Philadelphia.
There are exceptions, of course. One of them is Frances McDormand, who plays Lady Macbeth. After all, a contemporary Hollywood movie isn’t complete without at least one interracial couple, right? Anti-white shows should be her kind of thing, since one of her early major roles was in Mississippi Burning. (A review appeared in Instauration in December 1989.) Later, she starred in Fargo. This Coen Brothers movie wasn’t so bad, as far as films go in which Hollywood types mock the people who grow their food. In real life, McDormand is married to Joel Coen himself.
What’s the matter with racial miscasting?
Inaccuracy is just the beginning. Shakespeare is an important part of the Western canon, and the Scottish Play offers stern lessons about self-delusion, biting off more than one can chew, cycles of retaliatory violence, and the notion that the ends justify the means. Don’t mess with it! What we’re seeing in the new film is part of a larger trend of diversity casting. For anti-white Leftists, this serves two purposes: first, to try to gaslight the public into believing that Europe was always multiracial; and second, to distort our culture and rub our noses in it. If Joel Coen was just blindly following Hollyweird fashion, he still owes us an apology.
If someone were to produce a movie set in sixteenth-century Dahomey or Guinea, it would be unthinkably bizarre to make it about shoguns, samurais, and ninjas contending to rule over West African tribesmen, and of course with no explanation of how the Japanese got to the steamy rainforest. Why is it acceptable to do things like that to European history and folklore? I even referenced the absurdity of racial miscasting in my immortal classic tale of thud and blunder, Space Vixen Trek, Episode 13: The Final Falafel:
“What I mean is, I’m contemplating my future in acting. Of late, I am attempting to decide whether or not I want to stay in the drama club next time I go back to school. You could say I’m a bit disenchanted. The teacher was considering staging Othello next semester, but he refused to consider me for the title role, would you believe it? He said I didn’t have the right look, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”
Karl reminded him of the obvious. “Dude. You’re White.”
The dweeb squealed, “But everyone knows that race is merely a social construct! It doesn’t even exist!”
“You should visit the local chapter of the Black Panthers and try to show them the error of their ways. I’m sure they could clue you in.”
“I could just rub burnt cork on my face and nobody would know the difference. It worked in vaudeville, right?”
“I’m sure that would fly in today’s political climate. Go right ahead if you want to be the subject of angry editorials, candlelight vigils outside the school, and a race riot if you’re lucky.”
Jethro added, “You ever been to a Klan cross lightin’? Well, the colored folk got somethin’ like that too. If you get on their bad side, they’ll burn a watermelon on your lawn.
Shakespeare just doesn’t have many opportunities for non-white roles, explicit or plausible, but there are ways to adapt the source material — such as by culturally enriching Romeo and Juliet with Puerto Ricans, setting it in New York, and calling it West Side Story. One can create an Africanized version of Hamlet by changing the location to a sunny savannah and putting lions in it. All that worked, right?
Finally, surely there’s plenty of African folklore which could be filmed with an all-black cast. That’s an untapped literary vein which would give Hollyweird a break from plundering comic books, filming unnecessary reboots and remakes, and playing grab-ass with aspiring actresses. Perhaps Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie might be up to writing some screenplays. Hey, why not?
Should we care about these attempts to write us out of our own culture?
There’s a chance that calling out counterfactual diversity casting will raise charges of “white fragility.” That one is a Robin DiAngelo kafkatrap intended to delegitimize any objection that whites might have for anything that would get blacks howling mad if it were happening to them. Granted, blacks are the touchiest race in the world, while moderation is one of our cultural virtues. Still, that doesn’t mean that whites should grin and bear every single insult, or tolerate each encroachment by cultural Marxism. Not pushing back when necessary is a large part of what got us into today’s mess, so it’s better late than never.
Fortunately, we have a precedent here that may guide us. This wasn’t about a film seen by millions, and thus understandably part of the national conversation, but rather about a Broadway production. Typically, that’s a very limited audience, since only two kinds of people pay much attention to the Broadway scene: New Yorkers rich enough to afford the very pricy tickets, and the type of men who can tell the difference between teal and aqua. Still, there was so much media flapdoodle about it back in the day that it briefly upstaged coverage of the first Middle Eastern spit-in-your-eye war then in development.
Note well, this was long ago. Then, political correctness was an outlandish fad barely getting off the ground floor. (It took three decades before the infection spread to the point that mobs of brainwashed zombies were rioting, looting, burning cities, and wrecking statues — including of Abraham Lincoln — while bedwetting liberal politicians let them run amok for three months.) If the same thing happened now, presumably all the triggering would set off the Big One in California.
Specifically, this precedent was the Miss Saigon controversy. As I recall, the greatest point of contention was that a white actor, rather than an Asian, was playing a major character who is a white/Asian half-breed. (In that case, a pure Asian actor rather than a “Hapa” should’ve been just as “problematic,” but Leftists are missing some basic logic circuits.) Alan Eisenberg — who I presume isn’t Vietnamese –weighed in with a negative opinion about it, and stated sanely:
The casting of a Caucasian actor made up to appear Asian is an affront to the Asian community. The casting choice is especially disturbing when the casting of an Asian actor, in the role, would be an important and significant opportunity to break the usual pattern of casting Asians in minor roles.
For the unhinged version, there was another review that also took the casting decision as a point of contention. I remember this from 30 years ago; how could I forget?
Every civilization gets the theater it deserves, and we get Miss Saigon, which means we can now say definitively that our civilization is over. After this, I see no way out but an aggressive clearance program: All the Broadway theaters must be demolished, without regard for their size, history, or landmark status; all the members of the League of New York Theatres must be lined up against a wall and shot; the New York Times must be firebombed into nothingness and its entire editorial staff (most of whom are composed wholly of gravel and pitch anyway) fed into a stonecrusher and used to repave the West Side Highway; while anyone found to have voluntarily purchased a $100 ticket to Miss Saigon must be sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor and have his or her children cooked and distributed as food supplies to famine areas in the Third World. The authors, one hopes, will have the grace to commit ritual suicide — the atrium of the Marriott Marquis Hotel might be a suitable spot — while Cameron Mackintosh and his production staff should be slowly beaten to death with blunt instruments; this year’s Pulitzer Prize judges in drama could be used for the job.
That bloodcurdling hyperbole wasn’t fedposting. It was the first paragraph of a Village Voice review, authored by Michael Feingold — who I also presume isn’t Vietnamese. It’s one thing to say that a particular play is evidence that civilization is over. It’s quite another to get worked into a lather and discuss feeding the children of ticket-purchasers to hungry Third World cannibals. From the sheer foaming-at-the-mouth vehemence, I almost could imagine the reviewer sharpening a filleting knife in hopes of going Sweeney Todd on them, too.
So if it’s long established by good liberal opinion that casting whites as Asians or half-Asians is practically a crime against humanity, then it’s just as wrong to cast blacks in white roles. There are bullshit artists who specialize in making up talking points larded up with academic buzzwords to justify anti-white double standards, but it’s not remotely plausible to explain this away with whataboutism, making amends for something that happened too long ago for anyone to remember, or some other disingenuous excuse.
Three decades ago, the Miss Saigon incident caused a reeeeing heard around the world, one that overpowered Saddam’s air raid sirens for a hot minute. If the play’s casting decisions were unsuitable, then in response to the very same thing in The Tragedy of Macbeth, I haven’t heard a peep from good liberal opinion. Up to this point, this has been the elephant in the room that nobody has mentioned. It’s time to call it out. They need to stop getting away with trying to erase our culture.
* * *
Counter-Currents has extended special privileges to those who donate $120 or more per year.
- First, donor comments will appear immediately instead of waiting in a moderation queue. (People who abuse this privilege will lose it.)
- Second, donors will have immediate access to all Counter-Currents posts. Non-donors will find that one post a day, five posts a week will be behind a “paywall” and will be available to the general public after 30 days.
To get full access to all content behind the paywall, sign up here:
Paywall Gift Subscriptions
- your payment
- the recipient’s name
- the recipient’s email address
- your name
- your email address
To register, just fill out this form and we will walk you through the payment and registration process. There are a number of different payment options.
A Haunting in Venice: Agatha Christie Is Back
Having It All: America Reaps the Benefits of Feminism
Bad Cop! No Baklava!
The Tinkling Cherub of Mississippi
Jon Stewart’s Irresistible: An Election in Flyover Country
Get Ready for Gender Tootsie Roll Pops
A Brief Overview of Politically-Weaponized Buzzwords
A Child as White as Snow