The problem with an on-going casting trend.
Scarlett Johansson, a white actress, has recently been cast in a live-action remake of the Ghost in the Shell anime film as the lead character, Motoko Kusanagi. Tilda Swinton, another white actress has been cast as the Ancient One in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange film, a character that is not only Asian in its original incarnation, but was also male. Let’s not forget America’s Sweetheart, Emma Stone, played a Hawaiian character of Chinese ancestry in Aloha. Thank goodness for her, nobody saw that train-wreck.
Speaking of trainwrecks, you know I don't need to get into Cloud Atlas.
While blackface has become a social taboo…and rightfully so…it can be a bit jarring that such modern movies are pulling such stunts involving yellowface, (casting white actors to play Asian characters) or whitewashing, (recasting non-white characters as white).
To be fair, there has been backlash over this, as can be seen below, but I want to give my two cents.
Nothing against Scarlett Johansson. In fact, I'm a big fan. But everything against this Whitewashing of Asian role.😒 https://t.co/VS6r6iish9— Ming-Na Wen (@MingNa) April 14, 2016
Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One is fine (character was borderline racist to begin with), but full white washing Ghost in the Shell is BS.— Jimmy Wong (@jfwong) April 14, 2016
no one is forcing Tilda Swinton and Scarlett Johansson to do this. They knowingly said "sure, let me take this role from a person of color"— Joseph Fink (@PlanetofFinks) April 14, 2016
Attempts to edit actresses.
What is going on here can get a bit confusing at times. With Johansson, there have been allegations over the use of CGI effects from both Paramount and DreamWorks to edit the actress to appear more Asian, in what was an attempt to calm the criticism launched from hiring the actress in the first place. So yeah, it is pretty safe to say that this is yellowface. If you think about it, it started out as whitewashing and flat-out dove into yellowface.
Yellowface can demonize.
Historically, yellowface, much like blackface, was used to demonize and humiliate people of Asian descent. Now, I know that people are quick to point out that this was not meant to mock or humiliate anyone, but that is not the point. Things need to be looked at through the bigger picture. Continuing these hurtful traditions are both insensitive and insulting.
Now, when I first heard about Swinton’s casting especially, I was originally confused over why they could not just find an actor that had the appropriate race and gender for the character, but after doing a little more research, apparently the character is going to be a Celtic reincarnation of the previous existing character. In other words, the writers and producers tried to save face by claiming that this version of an Asian character is simply not Asian.
This is where I get into the problems with whitewashing.
Another issue about this that seems to be ignored, that still ties into whitewashing, is that capable Asian actors are being cheated out of roles. Sure, if these were community theatre shows or even student films, I’d give the benefit of the doubt that appropriate actors simply weren’t available in time, but that isn’t the case with #Hollywood productions. By doing this, you are sending the message that Asian people are invisible and do not deserve a voice.
And most Hollywood movies are already about white people as it is. Do white actors really need to take what little roles that weren’t for them in the first place as it is? #Celebrities