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Doing Justice to the Classics

Racist reaction to David Gyasi playing Achilles in BBC/Netflix “Troy” Miniseries

David Gyasi, a London-born actor of Ghanaian descent, plays the role of Achilles in the BBC’s and Netflix’ miniseries Troy: Fall of a City. Implicitly racist reactions to this casting have appeared on social media and in the comments sections of press about the show. The topic has now been taken up on Stuff Black People Don’t Like, a site run by Paul Kersey, author of the book Whitey on the Moon, which attributes “the demise of NASA” to “the promotion of blackness and diversity, at the expense of the initial dream of exploring the stars.” [Update: Pharos has documented further examples of racist backlash against the casting.]
[Update: Pharos has published a series of responses from scholars to this backlash.]In the case of Troy: Fall of a City, Kersey accuses the producers of “deconstruct[ing] white mythic heroes to nothing more than Africans” and likens “casting black actors in white roles” to the long-standing practice of “whitewashing” in film, which systematically perpetuates racist stereotypes and limits non-white actors’ opportunities to appear in major productions.

The page’s (anonymous) comments reflect an even more explicit, hostile racism. Several such comments incorporate further references to classical antiquity and so are documented here:

• “[Troy: Fall of a City is] obviously aimed at the younger generation who have little knowledge of history in order to brainwash them and at stupid negroes who will believe such tripe and ‘feel good about dey his’ry and about demselves.’ Might as well have a movie about Julius Caesar vacationing in Las Vegas with the 5th Macedonian legion. It’s that stupid. Or a movie portraying leprechauns as African pygmies in Ireland.”

• “The Roman legions would ‘taunt’ opposing armies by banging their shields, chanting that opposing armies were cowards, etc… and sending out weaker units to provoke undisciplined barbarians to break formations and rush in to attack, making them vulnerable to the strategic and tactical counter-offensives the Romans had prepared. All of these re-castings in popular culture with blacks as Norse gods, orphan Annie, the founding fathers, etc… are in effect ‘taunts.’ They are literally daring Whites to come out and attack the low hanging fruit (Achilles being portrayed as a black as spades Negro from sub-Saharan Africa.) It is pure demoralization, and nothing else… it is not enough to physically displace Whites in their own lands, they must also be culturally dispossessed.”

View the post on Stuff Black People Don’t Like without actually visiting the site.

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