Is the Prince of Persia movie racist?

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Is the new Prince of Persia movie racist? Almost certainly not, but that’s the accusation being levied by independent film maker Jehanzeb Dar, saying that the part of The Prince “really needed to go to someone who’s Persian.” So, rather than try to find someone of Persian (or at the very least, Middle Eastern) descent, the film’s producers instead went with a well-known Hollywood actor. Is there anything wrong with that, really?

Let’s think this out a bit. Prince of Persia tells the story of Prince, a fine young man who hails from Persia. My guess is that the average American doesn’t know that Persia = Iran. If they did, we’d be hearing the likes of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck railing on and on about how the movie glorifies Iranian civilization, and Real Americans obviously hate everything Iranian. (I’ve never met someone from Iran, but I’m sure they’re nice people.) Anyhow, Dar also said:

It’s not only insulting to Persians, it’s also insulting to white people. It’s saying white people can’t enjoy movies unless the protagonist is white.

Dar’s way over-thinking this. I’m sure the film’s producers were merely thinking, “We need to find a male actor who’s reasonably well-known to the American movie-goer. Quick, intern, go through this list of actors and see who’s available for two months sometime in the next six months. We’ll go with whoever the hell answers our phone calls.” I guess Jake Gyllenhaal, the actor who plays Prince, wasn’t busy.

That’s all that happened, people.

And another thing, and it’s the reverse of what Dar is saying: why can’t a white person portray an Iranian? Can the audience, which is watching a FAKE SHOW, not handle an actor who doesn’t look like what they think he or she should look like? And why does skin color even matter? Why can’t an actor act? Didn’t men play woman in the time of Shakespeare? What if I, a nerd of Puerto Rican descent (even though I know absolutely nothing about Puerto Rico—I know more about the cultures of World of Warcraft than I do anything about Puerto Rico), wanted to play George Washington in a community theater production of “George Washington Does Some Stuff”? Would the audience not be able to handle that? I’m a great actor, I’ll have you know!

We’re all people, folks. Jake Gyllenhaal has as much right to play Prince as does some guy from Tehran. It’s not like the show’s producers called up a giant lizard to play Prince, then I can see an issue.

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