Netflix has been compelled to disable comments on the trailer for its latest documentary series, Queen Cleopatra, due to a significant backlash on social media.
The show, which delves into the life of Egypt’s last pharaoh, has generated controversy for its portrayal of Cleopatra as Black in reenactment scenes.
The official Netflix synopsis describes her as “the world’s most famous, powerful, and misunderstood woman” and emphasizes her intellect rather than her beauty and romances, which have historically overshadowed her other attributes.
The controversy stems from the depiction of Cleopatra as Black, despite historical records indicating that she hailed from Macedonian Greek heritage.
The Ptolemaic dynasty, to which Cleopatra belonged, had ruled over the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt for over three centuries.
Although not ethnically Egyptian, Cleopatra is known to have embraced many of the ancient customs of Egypt and was even the first member of the Ptolemaic line to learn the Egyptian language, according to History.com.
The trailer for Queen Cleopatra, which was uploaded to YouTube on April 12, has already garnered over 1.9 million views.
However, the decision to portray Cleopatra as Black in the reenactment scenes has sparked outrage on social media, with accusations of “Blackwashing” a historical figure.
An online petition on Change.org calling for the cancellation of the show for “falsifying history” amassed over 85,000 signatures from around the world in just two days before being removed from the platform.
Social media users have also voiced their criticism of the show’s portrayal of Cleopatra.
Many have called for the preservation of historical accuracy and integrity.
Some have taken issue with Netflix and Jada Pinkett Smith, who serves as an executive producer of the series, for promoting a documentary about Cleopatra in a way that they feel misrepresents her heritage.
Despite the backlash, Queen Cleopatra is set to be available for streaming on Netflix on May 10.
The series promises to shed light on the life of the enigmatic queen and challenge the traditional Hollywood depiction of her, which has often focused on her beauty and romantic relationships rather than her intellect and accomplishments.