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Why you shouldn’t believe Hollywood’s excuses for whitewashing

Angie Han, writing now for Mashable, has a piece on why most excuses people make for racially insensitive casting are bunk:

Hollywood’s racial bias comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s “whitewashing” — casting a white actor to play a character who was originally conceived of as non-white, like the Major in Ghost in the Shell or Light in Death Note. (John Oliver has an excellent primer on the industry’s long history of whitewashing here.)

Other times, it might be favoring a white lead character in a narrative that borrows problematically from non-white cultures — like positioning Iron Fist’s Danny Rand and Doctor Strange’s Stephen Strange as the ultimate practitioners of mystical martial arts that they learned in made-up Asian countries.

Perhaps most insidiously, it can also mean simply overlooking POC talent, and defaulting to white characters and white actors time and time again, even when there’s no narrative reason to do so. We adore Tim Burton and the Coens as much as the next person, for example, but it’s hard to deny that their films tend to be pretty homogenous.

  • Burzol

    David, I wonder if the whitewashing issue isn’t the right issue to be mad about in those cases? Isn’t that not about white actors taking away racial roles from non-white people, but about lack of racial roles for people other than white? Why faithful adaptation of the original material are considered to be racially insensitive? Why Iron Fist HAS to be asian, if he always was white? (And Marvel has Shang-Chi character?) A few years ago Witcher games were under attacks. Accused of racism, because the world of Witcher has only white people in it. The thing is, that the universe of Witcher, that world, it is based strongly upon a slavic mythology. Based on polish old gods and mythical creatures, and there are no racial multiversity there. Why would anyone force game creators to changed that?

    • Doman The Roman

      Why would they be under attack for having only white people in it considering Slavs are white, if it was saying about them being English, American or just not at all Slavic but saying only white people implies Slavs aren’t white.