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Cultural Appropriation! Main Actor in Upcoming Napoleon Movie is Not Even Napoleon

Photo by Bastien Nvs / Unsplash

Eyebrows were raised at the release of the trailer for the upcoming Napoleon movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix and not the 19th-century French general-turned-emperor himself.

Many took to Twitter to voice their opposition to the decision by Sony Studios.

“From Desiree to Bill and Ted to Night at the Museum 2, to the upcoming Napoleon movie, Hollywood has a history of white-washing over the achievements of Napoleon Bonaparte by casting non-NB actors to play him.” Tweeted film critic, Acton Tivist.

“Napoleon spent his life fighting for the acceptance of all cultures. There is nothing more antithetical to the way Napoleon lived than the desecration of cultures.” Tweeted New York Times French historian Nikkie Anna Jones.

Even Pope Francesco expressed his sadness: “Seeing a Napoleon movie without Napoleon in it would be like not being able to find the pope in the Vatican. This is very sad and I pray that Sony reconsiders this artistic kidnapping of Napoleon’s legacy.”

In a now-deleted Tweet, Sony’s official Twitter account defended their casting decision by pointing to Phoenix’s significant accomplishments on the big screen and that he “actually looks a lot like Napoleon once you put make-up on him.”

“How is this any different from blackface?” Several people asked in the replies.

Several conservative pundits came to the defense of Sony.

Max Waltz tweeted “I have never met a Napoleon Bonaparte who is actually offended by this. This outrage is entirely manufactured and should be ignored.”

Despite the support, Sony eventually released a statement.

“Over several decades as a film company, Sony has always believed in diversity and representation. However, mistakes have been made in our past and we are not too prideful to admit when we are wrong. After listening to the rightful concerns of those whom we at Sony respect, the whole movie will be re-shot using Napoleon’s skeleton as the starring role.”

This statement sent shockwaves throughout the Twittersphere with some saying that Napoleon does not possess the acting ability he once did while he was alive, and others accusing those people of ageism and anti-Napoleon dog-whistling.

Napoleon’s skeleton declined to comment on the controversy.

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