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Gladiator II Trailer is Attacked by the Alt-right


Al Kowsky

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It didn't take long for the¬†Gladiator II¬†trailer to become a political hot potato¬†ūüėŹ. Some people don't appear to understand that¬†Gladiator II, to be released this November, is a¬†fictionalized¬†account of Roman history. In an article posted by¬†Mikael Thalen¬†in the¬†Daily Dot's Website, ultra right conservatives are having conniptions about the trailer¬†ūüėĖ. They seem to think that Gladiator II¬†has been made specifically for black people, with the target point being¬†Denzel Washington¬†playing the part of Emperor Macrinus. We all know that Macrinus was not black, never the less, in the movie Denzel Washington has a strong resemblance to Macrinus¬†ūüė≤. See the comparison below with a movie clip & a tetradrachm of Macrinus from my collection.

D.W.inGladiatorIICoinofMacrinusadj..jpg.36f25e0ff16f0a70c1a2d3b51e145d7d.jpg

I'm a big fan of Denzel Washington & have no qualms about him playing the part of Macrinus¬†ūüėČ. One point that Thalen brings up in the article that I certainly agree with is the trailer song "No Church in the Wild" by Jay-Z¬†& Kayne West, is truly asinine. I'm really excited about this movie & will see it the first week it is released ūüėÉ. What do you think ūü§Ē?

https://www.dailydot.com/debug/conservatives-hate-woke-gladiator-2-movie/

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Setting aside the political aspect of the question - I do dislike "fictionalized" accounts of history like this because history is not fiction, and the fact is, this is where a lot of people get their ideas about history. We here on NumisForums may know that Macrinus wasn't black but probably most other people don't and they walk away with an inaccurate and incorrect view of history. Same thing with the Cleopatra movie awhile back.

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This isn't as egregious as portraying Marcus as a very old man or Commodus killing his father, but it makes me cringe when I see characters that look absolutely nothing like the historical figures.

Here's Ella Becroft playing Crispina in "Roman Empire: Reign of Blood." I wish the producers of the series would have paid closer attention to reproducing Crispina's actual hairstyle, though. They could have at least styled this actress' hair in a bun.

[IMG] [IMG]

Here's the real Crispina coiffure:

Crispina IVNO LVCINAE As.jpg

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Fictional or not.

Rome (Serie) use a lot of fictional history in the complete storyline. But nevertheless the series is logical in itself, it is exciting and there are no stereotypical prejudices.

When I see the costumes in trailers that are reminiscent of the gold and black armour of Ben Hur from 1960 - when I see the exaggerated clown costumes in which the emperors are portrayed - ok - it's Hollywood, apparently.

When Geta and Caracalla are portrayed in the trailer as two moronic, completely stupid people, I get one too many, fictional or not. 
 
 

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18 minutes ago, CPK said:

Setting aside the political aspect of the question - I do dislike "fictionalized" accounts of history like this because history is not fiction, and the fact is, this is where a lot of people get their ideas about history. We here on NumisForums may know that Macrinus wasn't black but probably most other people don't and they walk away with an inaccurate and incorrect view of history. Same thing with the Cleopatra movie awhile back.

You can include fictional characters or even a fictional storyline. But it has to be logical. And it also has to fit in with the historical period.

A bad example is Barbarians II - why do most of the actors suddenly look like a mixture of Vikings and GoT? And why did they come up with the idea of including a female warrior with Xenia's outfit and carrying two swords crossed on her back? And why do the Romans with 3 legions let a handful of barbarians play cheap tricks on them? As if the Romans were completely stupid.
 

But let's move on to your prejudices, which are conveyed by such films. 

90% of Germans think - in the Middle Ages the sun never shone, it was mostly dark and raining. In the Middle Ages, everyone was dirty. In the Middle Ages, everyone was stupid and the church destroyed all knowledge. Above all, people here really think that a few witches had to burn every day in the Middle Ages.

Many people here really think - medieval film = history.

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Just out of curiosity, what drives our knowledge in knowing Macrinus was not black? I honestly have never thought about this one way or the other, but was curious to see if there was any historical basis for portraying Macrinus as black and to my surprise, it seems like there might be:

From wikipedia:

"Macrinus was born in Caesarea (modern Cherchell, Algeria) in the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis to an equestrian family of Berber origins.[2][3] According to David Potter, his family traced its origins to the Berber tribes of the region and his pierced ear was an indication of his Berber heritage.[4] He received an education which allowed him to ascend to the Roman political class"

Now, being Berber does not mean you will be black (a quick google image search disavows that notion), but barring more concrete evidence outright saying Macrinus had white or fair skin or some such thing, you could argue that maybe he was black. Although given Ridley Scott's distaste for historical accuracy, I highly doubt he had his team investigate this too much.

Back to the film... I did find this trailer edit where they use original music from Gladiator far superior to the horrible music from the official trailer:


My 2 cents... this feels like a film worth watching whenever it ends up on HBO for free, but don't see myself paying to see it in theaters. Trailer feels like this is more a reboot than a sequel, just flipping characters around. Reminds me of how Disney essentially rebooted A New Hope to kick off their terrible sequel trilogy. Oh well, at least it can't take away from the gloriousness of the original film! 

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Far-right...Far left....they're both steaming piles of you know what.

As for the movie. I don't think it's something we need. Part 1 was fine for what it was. Part 2 just seems to be another filler movie because they have nothing else original to make.

I will catch this flick when it hits streaming.

91591q00.jpg.5e1eea8d047a316aaaef51611b7b56be.jpg

Macrinus (217 - 218 A.D.)

AR Denarius
O: IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust right, from front, younger features with medium beard.
R:PONTIF MAX TR P COS P P, Jupiter standing half left, nude, no cloak, thunderbolt in right hand, long scepter vertical behind in left hand.
2.73g
20mm
Rome Mint, Sep 217 A.D
RIC IV 15 (S), RSC III 55b, BMCRE V 31, SRCV II 7342, Hunter III 

Maxwell Hunt Collection

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Regarding historical accuracy, I'm most displeased with the appearance of Caracalla and Geta....Especially Caracalla....such a missed opportunity to have a menacing-looking emperor! The two appear to be beardless and blonde, more akin to the emperors of the Julio-Claudian period. I would assume they are trying to make them seem more effeminate than the protagonists (Lucius? Macrinus?) in the same vein as Commodus in the first film. I also wondered why Julia Domna doesn't appear to feature in this film, but I now have a theory. The only woman visible in the imperial box in this trailer is Lucilla, who also appears to have blonde hair. Whereas the real Lucilla was executed by Commodus, I have a suspicion that the film will suggest that Lucilla was married off to the next emperor (i.e. Septimius Severus) to establish his legitimacy and, therefore, is Caracalla and Geta's mother....but this is just a hunch! I'm curious to hear what others think!

To keep things coin related here's my Vic Parthica denarius of Macrinus!

RomanImperial_Macrinus_Denarius_VicParthica.jpg.adce59ca5b6b33791ba90877a51d4af9.jpg

Edited by Romancollector
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I find the Roman period mummy masks from Egypt painted in encaustic wax excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie somewhat of a barometer for the race question. They show that Egyptians of the 2nd century were of all colors and wide range of ethnicities, at least how society would view it today. Whether the concept of "race" was as important back then as it is now I would say not. A social benefit back then would be Roman citizenship, not race per se. 

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Unless it's marked as a documentary, a movie is art. Why would one expect art to be a copy-paste of the reality? Why would one learn, or expect to learn, history from movies? I would enjoy the movie as a fictional act and enjoy the actors' play whatever their skin color is. 

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29 minutes ago, Restitutor said:

Just out of curiosity, what drives our knowledge in knowing Macrinus was not black? I honestly have never thought about this one way or the other, but was curious to see if there was any historical basis for portraying Macrinus as black and to my surprise, it seems like there might be:

From wikipedia:

"Macrinus was born in Caesarea (modern Cherchell, Algeria) in the Roman province of Mauretania Caesariensis to an equestrian family of Berber origins.[2][3] According to David Potter, his family traced its origins to the Berber tribes of the region and his pierced ear was an indication of his Berber heritage.[4] He received an education which allowed him to ascend to the Roman political class"

Now, being Berber does not mean you will be black (a quick google image search disavows that notion), but barring more concrete evidence outright saying Macrinus had white or fair skin or some such thing, you could argue that maybe he was black. Although given Ridley Scott's distaste for historical accuracy, I highly doubt he had his team investigate this too much.

Back to the film... I did find this trailer edit where they use original music from Gladiator far superior to the horrible music from the official trailer:


My 2 cents... this feels like a film worth watching whenever it ends up on HBO for free, but don't see myself paying to see it in theaters. Trailer feels like this is more a reboot than a sequel, just flipping characters around. Reminds me of how Disney essentially rebooted A New Hope to kick off their terrible sequel trilogy. Oh well, at least it can't take away from the gloriousness of the original film! 

Restitutor, You raise some good points¬†ūüėČ. We obviously don't know what color Macrinus was, in fact he may have been a darker shade of color than the typical Roman, however, he obviously wasn't a Negro either as the many existing marble & bronze busts illustrate.¬†

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23 minutes ago, Romancollector said:

I'm most displeased with the appearance of Caracalla and Geta....Especially Caracalla....such a missed opportunity to have a menacing-looking emperor! The two appear to be beardless and blonde, more akin to the emperors of the Julio-Claudian period.

These are my thoughts too.

I have no problems at all with the "dark" Macrinus - if he is played well and the character has visible traits!

But when I see Geta and Caracalla in the trailer - they are something like Elagabal, only worse. I can imagine that the scriptwriters thought, we have to present the story in a positive light somehow - so Geta and Caracalla have to look like idiots, they have to talk like idiots and they have to act like idiots. And the audience can then say - look, they were like Nero or Caligula - crazy!

Once again, I would like to cite the Rome series as an example.

Marcus Antonius was certainly historically drunk and also a violent person. But the writers of Rome don't just let Marcus Antonius run through the series like that. Antony also has many other character moments in the series. And that's a good way to portray a character and make him interesting.

Or you can simply divide Hollywood Like a film into black and white. There is only evil or good. These are the bad guys, these are the good guys - there's often nothing in between in Hollywood.

 

I will of course also watch the film Gladiator II. But I'm afraid I'll despair from time to time.

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24 minutes ago, Romancollector said:

Regarding historical accuracy, I'm most displeased with the appearance of Caracalla and Geta....Especially Caracalla....such a missed opportunity to have a menacing-looking emperor! The two appear to be beardless and blonde, more akin to the emperors of the Julio-Claudian period. I would assume they are trying to make them seem more effeminate than the protagonists (Lucius? Macrinus?) in the same vein as Commodus in the first film. I also wondered why Julia Domna doesn't appear to feature in this film, but I now have a theory. The only woman visible in the imperial box in this trailer is Lucilla, who also appears to have blonde hair. Whereas the real Lucilla was executed by Commodus, I have a suspicion that the film will suggest that Lucilla was married off to the next emperor (i.e. Septimius Severus) to establish his legitimacy and, therefore, is Caracalla and Geta's mother....but this is just a hunch! I'm curious to hear what others think!

To keep things coin related here's my Vic Parthica denarius of Macrinus!

RomanImperial_Macrinus_Denarius_VicParthica.jpg.adce59ca5b6b33791ba90877a51d4af9.jpg

Romancollector, I believe that Caracalla is being portrayed as a young man instead of the older image of the angry, scowling man we all love to see¬†ūüėČ. Pictured below is a coin from my collection depicting Caracalla about 19 years old.

McAlee66714.32gm27mm11hobv..jpg.e406ae6dbe56537dbca9922a60daac40.jpg

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I didn't even bat an eye, Denzel is marvelous, carries himself well off film and gets my respect.  This is not a historical film so it doesn't bother me in the slightest weather it is accurate or not in any sense.  These media outlets on either side just need to keep pumping out buzz and content.

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1 hour ago, Restitutor said:

what drives our knowledge in knowing Macrinus was not black?

...because he wasn't called Niger?!?>...(i.e.Pescennius,)...really if the name didn't have Albinus or Niger,  other than portraits on cons , there no distinguishing what shade of skin they might have been....

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2 hours ago, Roman Collector said:

This isn't as egregious as portraying Marcus as a very old man or Commodus killing his father, but it makes me cringe when I see characters that look absolutely nothing like the historical figures.

Here's Ella Becroft playing Crispina in "Roman Empire: Reign of Blood." I wish the producers of the series would have paid closer attention to reproducing Crispina's actual hairstyle, though. They could have at least styled this actress' hair in a bun.

[IMG] [IMG]

Here's the real Crispina coiffure:

Crispina IVNO LVCINAE As.jpg

 

hair styles of star trek women 1.jfif hair styles of star trek women 1.jfif

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Funny, but when I watched the trailer I just assumed that Denzel Washington was playing Septimius Severus, who has been suggested from a surviving painting of that time to be non-white. I understood the history doesn't match, but that wouldn't be the first time this serious muddled things up.

The thing I can't understand is why no one's questioned the original Gladiator making Lucius Verus Lucilla's son, when in truth he was her husband. That completely threw these movies at the window in my opinion. As for Denzel playing Macrinus, that doesn't both me as much because he's a very good actor. He's also playing someone who - let's be honest - the average American (or even European) has no idea existed. Add to the fact that his birth place and heritage suggest he wasn't white, and one could argue that having a white actor play him would have been just as fallacious as a black actor.

Will I go see the movie? I don't know, because according to my wife there's one flaw so fatal that she wouldn't even watch the trailer. She's still upset they killed Russell Crowe and, according to her, without him it's just not the same thing.

My coins per this installment.

205_Full.jpg.b9cfd612df57c98825c7b70bdddb4045.jpg

Macrinus AR Denarius
Rome, 217-218 CE
3.58g, 20mm, 12h
IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust to right / SALVS PVBLICA, Salus seated to left, feeding snake coiled around altar.
RIC IV 85; BMCRE 75; RSC 114a
Ex collection of Z.P., Austria

 

58_Full.jpg.e2749f8720b475914fc88cdd970a9840.jpg

Lucius Verus
Rome 161-169 CE
AR Denarius 18mm, 2,78g

 

59_Full.jpg.9162d9bddb84bba3856a1fcdef0e1650.jpg

Geta, as Caesar
Rome 197-209 CE
AR Denarius 20mm, 3,35g

 

336_Full.jpg.ff769b0be8cb7076a01fa5b2409f7391.jpg

Lucilla (daughter of M. Aurelius)
AR Denarius. Rome, 164-180 CE
3.15g, 18mm, 6h
LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust to right
PIETAS, Pietas standing to left, draped and veiled, raising arm over lighted altar and holding perfume box.
RIC III 775 (Aurelius); BMCRE 317 (Aurelius and Verus); RSC 50
Ex Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger

 

735_Full.jpg.31e3d80716535299fe0612e0aa7659b9.jpg

Caracalla
Rome 198-217 CE
Denarius AR 20mm, 2,30g
Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT. Head of Caracalla, laureate, bearded, right.
Rev: MONETA AVG. Moneta, draped, standing left, holding scales in right hand and cornucopiae in left hand.
Ref: RIC 224; BMC 90; RSC 165

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25 minutes ago, kirispupis said:

Funny, but when I watched the trailer I just assumed that Denzel Washington was playing Septimius Severus, who has been suggested from a surviving painting of that time to be non-white. I understood the history doesn't match, but that wouldn't be the first time this serious muddled things up.

The thing I can't understand is why no one's questioned the original Gladiator making Lucius Verus Lucilla's son, when in truth he was her husband. That completely threw these movies at the window in my opinion. As for Denzel playing Macrinus, that doesn't both me as much because he's a very good actor. He's also playing someone who - let's be honest - the average American (or even European) has no idea existed. Add to the fact that his birth place and heritage suggest he wasn't white, and one could argue that having a white actor play him would have been just as fallacious as a black actor.

Will I go see the movie? I don't know, because according to my wife there's one flaw so fatal that she wouldn't even watch the trailer. She's still upset they killed Russell Crowe and, according to her, without him it's just not the same thing.

My coins per this installment.

205_Full.jpg.b9cfd612df57c98825c7b70bdddb4045.jpg

Macrinus AR Denarius
Rome, 217-218 CE
3.58g, 20mm, 12h
IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust to right / SALVS PVBLICA, Salus seated to left, feeding snake coiled around altar.
RIC IV 85; BMCRE 75; RSC 114a
Ex collection of Z.P., Austria

 

58_Full.jpg.e2749f8720b475914fc88cdd970a9840.jpg

Lucius Verus
Rome 161-169 CE
AR Denarius 18mm, 2,78g

 

59_Full.jpg.9162d9bddb84bba3856a1fcdef0e1650.jpg

Geta, as Caesar
Rome 197-209 CE
AR Denarius 20mm, 3,35g

 

ellell

Lucilla (daughter of M. Aurelius)
AR Denarius. Rome, 164-180 CE
3.15g, 18mm, 6h
LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust to right
PIETAS, Pietas standing to left, draped and veiled, raising arm over lighted altar and holding perfume box.
RIC III 775 (Aurelius); BMCRE 317 (Aurelius and Verus); RSC 50
Ex Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger

 

735_Full.jpg.31e3d80716535299fe0612e0aa7659b9.jpg

Caracalla
Rome 198-217 CE
Denarius AR 20mm, 2,30g
Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT. Head of Caracalla, laureate, bearded, right.
Rev: MONETA AVG. Moneta, draped, standing left, holding scales in right hand and cornucopiae in left hand.
Ref: RIC 224; BMC 90; RSC 165

If your wife is too upset to see the movie because Russell Crowe was killed in the first movie, go see it with some guys who like blood & guts action movies¬†ūüėú.

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58 minutes ago, ominus1 said:

...because he wasn't called Niger?!?>...(i.e.Pescennius,)...really if the name didn't have Albinus or Niger,  other than portraits on cons , there no distinguishing what shade of skin they might have been....

We know he wasn't black (nor any other emperor) because at this time in history they made a tiny percentage of the population anywhere in the Roman world. The Berbers had their own distinct haplotype that was unique to this region and closely linked to semitic peoples (they looked like the average North African today).  Blacks were referred to as Ethiopians or Nubians in contemporary literature. It wasn't just blacks, there was very little migration that would have made this possible in ancient times meaning that sub-Saharan Africans as well as Indians and other Asians were as exotic in the Roman world as Romans were in theirs.

Rasiel

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1 hour ago, kirispupis said:

Funny, but when I watched the trailer I just assumed that Denzel Washington was playing Septimius Severus, who has been suggested from a surviving painting of that time to be non-white. I understood the history doesn't match, but that wouldn't be the first time this serious muddled things up.

The thing I can't understand is why no one's questioned the original Gladiator making Lucius Verus Lucilla's son, when in truth he was her husband. That completely threw these movies at the window in my opinion. As for Denzel playing Macrinus, that doesn't both me as much because he's a very good actor. He's also playing someone who - let's be honest - the average American (or even European) has no idea existed. Add to the fact that his birth place and heritage suggest he wasn't white, and one could argue that having a white actor play him would have been just as fallacious as a black actor.

Will I go see the movie? I don't know, because according to my wife there's one flaw so fatal that she wouldn't even watch the trailer. She's still upset they killed Russell Crowe and, according to her, without him it's just not the same thing.

My coins per this installment.

205_Full.jpg.b9cfd612df57c98825c7b70bdddb4045.jpg

Macrinus AR Denarius
Rome, 217-218 CE
3.58g, 20mm, 12h
IMP C M OPEL SEV MACRINVS AVG, laureate and cuirassed bust to right / SALVS PVBLICA, Salus seated to left, feeding snake coiled around altar.
RIC IV 85; BMCRE 75; RSC 114a
Ex collection of Z.P., Austria

 

58_Full.jpg.e2749f8720b475914fc88cdd970a9840.jpg

Lucius Verus
Rome 161-169 CE
AR Denarius 18mm, 2,78g

 

59_Full.jpg.9162d9bddb84bba3856a1fcdef0e1650.jpg

Geta, as Caesar
Rome 197-209 CE
AR Denarius 20mm, 3,35g

 

336_Full.jpg.ff769b0be8cb7076a01fa5b2409f7391.jpg

Lucilla (daughter of M. Aurelius)
AR Denarius. Rome, 164-180 CE
3.15g, 18mm, 6h
LVCILLAE AVG ANTONINI AVG F, draped bust to right
PIETAS, Pietas standing to left, draped and veiled, raising arm over lighted altar and holding perfume box.
RIC III 775 (Aurelius); BMCRE 317 (Aurelius and Verus); RSC 50
Ex Dr. Busso Peus Nachfolger

 

735_Full.jpg.31e3d80716535299fe0612e0aa7659b9.jpg

Caracalla
Rome 198-217 CE
Denarius AR 20mm, 2,30g
Obv: ANTONINVS PIVS AVG BRIT. Head of Caracalla, laureate, bearded, right.
Rev: MONETA AVG. Moneta, draped, standing left, holding scales in right hand and cornucopiae in left hand.
Ref: RIC 224; BMC 90; RSC 165

I thought the same thing! And would have played very well into why Caracalla and Geta are portrayed so young and absurd. Also takes the first films dynamic with Marcus and Commodus and amps it up 10 fold as Severus would witness the depravity of his sons to a level Marcus never saw with Commodus. When I saw Denzel’s character was in fact Macrinus and not Severus, I was scratching my head thinking they missed a much better opportunity. 

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1 hour ago, rasiel said:

We know he wasn't black (nor any other emperor) because at this time in history they made a tiny percentage of the population anywhere in the Roman world. The Berbers had their own distinct haplotype that was unique to this region and closely linked to semitic peoples (they looked like the average North African today).  Blacks were referred to as Ethiopians or Nubians in contemporary literature. It wasn't just blacks, there was very little migration that would have made this possible in ancient times meaning that sub-Saharan Africans as well as Indians and other Asians were as exotic in the Roman world as Romans were in theirs.

Rasiel

..i couldn't argue with someone who was there.....:)

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