White Washing Has Been Dead. Let It Go.
Recently, Ed Skrein was casted as Ben Daimio in the “Hellboy” reboot: “Rise of the Blood Queen.” Many were objecting to the role not going to an Asian-American actor. The character is Japanese-American in Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy” comics. He released a statement on his personal social media that he has stepped down from the role.
The creative directors behind the film adaptation of this film released a statement as well. “Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision. It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”
There are too many white washed films being produced in Hollywood and often times there is huge backlash on social media over it. Between Scarlett Johansson in “Ghost in the Shell” and Emma Stone playing a Chinese-Hawaiian character in Aloha, white washing has been a huge problem in Hollywood.
Many times white actors, producers, and directors will make excuses to why they keep the actors casted in those roles.
Someone tell me what is so difficult with casting people of color in film and television, whether the character is make believe or based on a real person.
Scarlet Johanssen says on Good Morning America that her character was “essentially identity-less” and that she would never attempt to play a person of another race. But that’s what the fuck you did girl? That was a poor excuse because she further explained that the role was about feminism, not race. And too many times white women will focus more on things that will benefit them and not other women. There are plenty of talented Asian American women who could have been casted for this role and that would have benefited feminism more than a rich white woman who is constantly being presented with multiple opprotunities. Additionally, white people feel that being white is like being invisible, therefore, if they are casted for a role meant for an Egyptian or someone from an Arab country, they can simply slap on some bronzer and it’s basically the same thing. The generic everyman aspect to whiteness makes it so easy to have a casting room full of white actors and pick the best white guy to play this Hispanic man like Ben Affleck did in Argo or an Native American person like Johnny Depp did in Lone Ranger or like Nat Wolff in the Netflix adaptation of Death Note.
White washing is trend we need to let go. CBS, which can’t even cast diverse actors in their shows, failed to pay Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park the same amount they pay their white counterparts. In earlier times, Hollywood casted white people to play black, Asian, and Native Americans, purely to hightlight harmful stereotypes that still believe in today. Now there are more actors of color on popular TV shows such as Fresh of the Boat, Blackish, Insecure, One Day at A Time, Queen of the South, and so many more. It is important that directors and producers take the time to cast actors, even if they are unknown, that match the ethnicity of the characters that they will play. Many people of color dealt with watching sitcoms and movies that depicted white families, white teens and their struggles, and white people going on adventures. It would be rare to see a Native American on television who was just a person and not a “savage” who was actually a white person with lots of dark foundation on. When you have more shows like East Los High and Dr. Ken, it makes people feel great that they are being represented as a part of society in popular media. It shows that they’re identity is their own and deserves to be shown in a true light.
When you casted a white person in place of a person of color in film, you are saying that their stories don’t matter. You are basically saying that placing them on screen is not worth your time nor your money, so you would rather face the consequences of angry consumers rather than accurately cast your movie characters. It doesn’t matter that Tilda Swinton was friends with Margaret Cho. That didn’t give her a pass to play a Himalayan mystic in Doctor Strange.
Audiences know when a movie is going to be lackluster waste of time. Time and time again, it’s been proven that films with a cast of diverse actors bring in big box office dollars and are critically acclaimed works. Insecure on HBO has been green lit for a third season and has a strong social media following. The Big Sick, which chronicals the real life romance between Kumail Nunjiani and Emily Kazan, is becoming one of the highest-grossing independent films of 2017. Get Out was the first movie to be a contender for an Oscar and went past the 200 million mark at the box office after having a 4.5 movie budget. Atlanta has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as Master of None, Insecure, Jane the Virgin, and so many other great shows.
Ed Skrein shows us that it is not that difficult to reject roles. He will not be devoid of roles in the future. Hopefully, white actors, producers, and directors will stop making excuses and make an effort to cast talented people of color in their new projects. Because I am certainly being tired of having to tweet out my frustrations in a long thread, pleading with Hollywood to acknowledge our voices and our stories. I just want people to see that our stories are worth telling and that you should give undiscovered or even very popular actors of color a chance, you will not be disappointed. The people who are making these decisions should know that they shouldn’t acknowledge that diversity is important after they casted the wrong person in an important role.
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