The glamor of Egypt and the mysticism of the Maya - both rich and fascinating cultures in their own right, but often represented unevenly in the human narratives. Egypt, with its pyramids and icons like Cleopatra, is showcased in our media as a golden civilization of marvel and mystique. The Maya, on the other hand, have often been depicted as more "primitive" or "barbaric."
Why do these perceptions persist? The roots lie primarily in colonial narratives and Eurocentric bias.
Colonial Narratives: The Maya and other Native American civilizations have been seen through the lens of colonial-era narratives, which sought to portray these cultures as less "civilized" to justify colonization.
Eurocentric Bias: Often, people see history through a Western lens. Ancient Egypt's ties with Greece and Rome have led to a more familiar and reverent portrayal.
I’ve been challenging these narratives for a long time. Yet, I still haven’t seen it done on a large scale or in the mainstream, there is not one film out there that has done a thing to rewrite and tell truth. What we do have are films that continue the false narrative that the Maya are barbaric like Apocalypto (film made by a racist director Mel Gibson, that detrimentally set back the way people viewed the Maya) & even Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
And even still there is a missed opportunity to rewrite the narrative with a film coming out this year called “Blue Bettle”. According to director Angel Manuel Soto, the script features “the Latino family at its core,” something which hasn’t been explored yet on the big screen under the lens of the superhero genre. Blue Beetle is the first superhero movie with a Latino character at the forefront, and Jaime’s closest relatives also have huge parts to play in the story.”
And yet the Latino superhero protagonist is given a “scarab” (Scarabs Represented Resurrection in Ancient Egypt) if this was a film to highlight a latino family then why not highlight their ancient culture? You know like Wakanda based on African culture, and Thor is based on Scandanavian culture.
It's time we ask ourselves why these historical narratives persist and how they influence our perceptions. Why do we devalue one civilization while idolizing another? And more importantly, how can we rewrite these narratives to give credit where it's due?