Let’s talk about Hollywood Whitewashing
The concept of Hollywood Whitewashing has grown throughout the years because it is becoming a bigger and more known issue. The term implies that White actors are being casted for the roles that should pertain to those of non-whites. This relates to the concept that Chandra Mohanty criticizes in “Under the Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses.” Mohanty talks about the hegemonic, Western feminist texts that incorporates the Third World women.
“I am attempting to draw attention to the similar effects of various textual strategies used by writers that codify others as non-Western and hence themselves as (implicitly) Western.” — Mohanty
In her reading, Mohanty analyzes the way that many non-Western texts are interpreted through a Western perspective. She also continues by including that, “…middle-class, urban African or Asian scholars who write about their rural or working-class sisters assume their own middle-class cultures at the norm and codify working class histories and cultures as other.” Mohanty strategically combines the representation of both perspectives with the mutual outcome. The “Other” or Third World women are not rightfully represented. My interpretation of this falls into Hollywood Whitewashing because the cultures considered as “Other” are often altered to be represented by Whites.
It seems that more than often, women are described and defined through a single definition. Those who do not coincide within those lines are labeled as the “Other.” The basic and most common image of a woman is White, thin, heterosexual and able-bodied. Much credit is given to Hollywood for implementing that image in the mind of societies. Major female roles are given to White women. The majority of models as well are White women. Society identifies these figures as the representation of all women. It false advertises the diversity in cultures from women all around the world. As Laurie Penny discusses in her article, “There has been barely disguised rage that a woman who isn’t a standard Hollywood beauty is allowed to display her body in public…” When there is a representation of women of color BY a woman of color, it is often critiqued more than what it should be. However, when a White woman represents women of color, it is highly criticized, but more from cultures pertaining to that misrepresented culture than by society as a whole.
Michelle Villemaire began a project she titled “Correcting Yellowface”. In this project Michelle recreates a photo from a role that a White woman played in place of an Asian woman by posing herself with the same clothes and props. In her blog, she comments, “To this day white people are cast as Asians, deepening the message that Asians just aren’t wanted.” This project connects with a recent issue dealing with Karlie Kloss and Vogue. Both the model and the magazine were highly criticized when Kloss appears as a geisha.
The model was placed to represent a different culture that is in no near relation to her own. Due to the commotion, the model did tweet an apology stating that she was “truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive.”
She was still criticized because she had recently been called out on a previous incident that involved her being dressed as a half-naked Native American.
To conclude with a quote used by Laurie Penny, “there is no such thing as a perfect poster girl for feminism — and if there was, we’d probably have to destroy her.” I chose this quote to wrap it all up because there has already been a preluding image of what the ideal woman looks like. If that image were to change, it would cause greater conflict between the cultures that are not represented through that figure.