It is the latest trend in the television world for diversity to be on our screens. It seems to Hollywood, globalism is the path, equality the door, and acceptance the key.
In 2017’s TV industry, an unprecedented rule of thumb looms overhead, expecting all cultures be represented (not only Caucasian, English, etc.), and the culture must be accurately shown; if not, at least make sure the cast is diverse, to offset any potential whitewash.
For example, Kat noticed the new rule of thumb in the movie “The Star” out at theaters, with the cast being greatly diverse, including Oprah Winfrey, Kelly Clarkson, Steven Yeun, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Keegan-Michael Kelly, and Aidy Bryan, among other big names.
The Star’s trailer:
Personally, I have no qualms with the above subject. I love the newfound diversity, and find it appealing. That being said, I can imagine the rule of thumb will make us look back on old films and cringe, where we shake our heads at the “era before equality”. Look at the popular news spots for the teenage and younger millennial audience, and you will see this as our reality, at least in the United States.
Here’s an 80’s music video of Michael W. Smith’s Secret Ambition:
What does this mean for the future of Jesus films? It may be, we find viewers being critics of all the former movies portraying Jesus, because Jesus is always, always (…almost always) cast as a Western-looking man. Maybe the exception is Selva Rasalingam, as he played in “The Gospel of John”. According to Wikipedia, Rasalingam is maternally British, paternally Tamil (Sri Lankan).
Here’s my quick sketch gallery of actors who have portrayed Jesus:
Let’s be honest. Every portrayal of Jesus is going to be inaccurate, except an early 30’s male actor who comes directly from the seed of King David. I doubt a person with that credentials would be possible to find, since the family tree would have to go back so ancient as 1000 BC. (Then again, the Bible itself is a family tree, so that’s a start.)
Really, anyone from Israel may look like Jesus. Who knows? We know little to nothing about Jesus’s appearance except that he was ordinary and did not stand out like royalty does. King Saul, Samson, and Esther for example all stood out; they would have won contests with their charm and skills, which is different than how Jesus is described in Isaiah 53:2, where it says,
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.”
There’s also the interesting fact that Jesus was related to a lot of beautiful men and women: Joseph, David, Rahab, Rebekah, Rachel, and Sarah were all mentioned as appealing to the eyes, which means Jesus has really great genes, to give him a few shapely features, here and there. So there is no reason to portray Jesus as unsightly or funny-looking, neither should he be seen as un-Hebrew.
To strengthen the point that Jesus didn’t have to be unsightly even looking at the words of Isaiah, remember in the story of David as a boy, he was the last to be picked as King simply because he was a young shepherd kid and he was too busy for formalities. It’s not like Samuel said, “Ew, I’m not anointing him, he’s ugly” – the Scripture says he was “ruddy and handsome” and had “beautiful eyes” – but because David was unimportant and ordinary, he wasn’t first choice. For Jesus, he, too, was an ordinary man. A carpenter, who hung around fishermen, got his needs provided for from widows and lowly women, and played with children off the street, Jesus was also “without majesty” because he wasn’t anybody different.
Conclusively, my opinion is that all actors who play Jesus Christ should be enjoyed for how they play the role, despite race or appearance. Jesus came and died for all, so that all might live eternally with him in heaven; I believe it is ok for modern trends to be considered, along with production needs and availability of actors, but it is also ok for all people and all cultures to enjoy the chance to play as their Savior, and most certainly one’s character should be considered as importantly as finding the right look or the right attraction.
Won't it be a great day when Jesus returns? Check out Hachi's video - listen to the trumpet sound!