What started out as a seemingly cordial discussion over the whitewashing controversy in the movie “Doctor Strange,” has now turned perplexing. At least in one party’s opinion. Asian actress/comedian Margaret Cho recently was a guest on Bobby Lee’s “TigerBelly” podcast and characterized her conversation with iTildaSwinton as weird. Cho even claimed the conversation made her feel like an Asian house servant following Swinton around with an umbrella. This prompted the British actress Tilda Swinton to release the email exchange between the two of them so reader could interpret for themselves.

Initially, a mutual acquaintance introduced the two Celebrities to each other since controversy was brewing over Marvel’s decision to cast Swinton as a Tibetan character called the Ancient One. Reportedly, Swinton emailed Cho, introducing herself as a longtime fan and wanted to get her take on why Asians were so upset. Swinton informed Cho that she was aware of an ongoing debate but was a person who would rather listen than comment since she was not a social media beast. Cho replied and explained that an actor of Asian descent should play Asian roles, adding that Asian-Americans are fed up with not seeing themselves better represented on film.

She also suggested in the email that perhaps Swinton could lend a voice by producing such content.

She said, she said, gone wrong

Swinton wrote that Marvel was trying to be careful about creating stereotypes like dragon lady trope or the Ancient One (wise old Eastern geezer as in the comic book). Swinton also stated that she was just as sick as anyone else about the lack of proper diversity in the world of cinema.

During the podcast, Cho suggested Swinton mentioning producing the film “Okja” starring Korean-American actor Steven Yeun as a point of vindication. Host Bobby Lee chimed in by comparing Swinton’s comment to someone saying they have a black friend if the topic was about slighting African-Americans. Nevertheless, Cho says she remains a huge fan of Tilda Swinton.

The Ancient One

Tilda Swinton’s role as the Ancient One in the film was originally written as a Tibetan man in the comics.

Despite the question of ethnicity, Swinton said she was happy to accept the role whose spell-casting character’s gender switch to a woman over age 26 who didn’t need to wear a bikini. Marvel’s goal was to shake things up. Perhaps, not in this way.

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