Netflix Blackwashing Parodies
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Netflix Blackwashing Parodies refer to a meme trend in which established characters who are normally depicted in one particular way are changed to be a different race when it comes to the Netflix adaptation of a fiction or non-fiction story. The parody trend started similarly to Netflix adaptations around 2018, but as Netflix continued to adapt more properties, race swaps became more common, causing a resurgence in memes to return each time. With the Queen Cleopatra controversy in 2023, Netflix blackwashing memes are typically used to showcase real-world or historical figures being portrayed by actors of different races.
Memes about Netflix blackwashing characters started after the streaming platform's first notable example of changing a historical figure's race in one of its adaptations. In late 2017, in preparation for its upcoming series co-produced with BBC One, Troy: Fall Of A City, Netflix released promotional material that showed the Greek hero Achilles would be played by the actor David Gyasi, a Black British actor (trailer seen below).
This depiction subsequently caused memes to be made after headlines went viral online revolving around how Netflix was changing several historical Greek figures and gods (such as Zeus) to be Black. This culminated in one of the first memes on the topic being tweeted on December 22nd, 2017, by Twitter user @NationalismYes, utilizing the then-popular We Wuz Kings meme featuring David Gyasi's portrayal of Achilles (shown below).
Over the following years in the late 2010s and early 2020s, additional memes parodying the concept continued to resurface around the internet when a new Netflix adaptation raceswapped a character. For example, on September 17th, 2018, Redditor u/localConurbano uploaded a Netflix adaptation meme in which the traditionally Asian or white (with differing opinions) character Hotaru Tomoe from Sailor Moon was portrayed by a Black person with similar hair. The post on the /r/animemes subreddit would gain over 5,800 upvotes in five years (shown below).
Netflix continued to have a history of creating adaptations that sometimes would have a blackwashed character in them, with its adaptation of Sabrina: The Teenage Witch and Castlevania being noted by fans in subsequent years.
This meme series notably saw a significant resurgence online when Netflix released the trailer for its upcoming documentary about Cleopatra (often cited by historians as Macedonian) and portrayed her as Black. Despite not being the first time Netflix altered the ethnicity of a historical figure, this sparked widespread controversy and debate online in early 2023, with memes appearing en masse of other historical figures being reimagined as Black in fake Netflix adaptations.
For example, a meme uploaded to the Facebook page Zin Ou on April 25th, 2023, depicted Idris Elba as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, garnering over 65 likes in less than 48 hours (shown below).
 Twitter – NationalismYes
 Reddit – localConurbano
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Chris the Lovable Jerk
Apr 27, 2023 at 05:15PM EDT
Apr 28, 2023 at 10:25AM EDT
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