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BBC: Hollywood Not Getting Message about Whitewashing

Nat Wolff
Nat Wolff is reportedly in talks to star in the live adaptation of the Japanese manga, Death Note.

This week’s big budget Hollywood release Pan stars a white actress playing a Native American role.

Just a week ago, Angry Asian Man reported that Nat Wolff is in talks to play the lead in the Japanese manga live action adaptation Death Note.

A few months ago director Cameron Crowe apologized for giving Emma Stone the role of a hapa whose part Hawaiian, Chinese and Swedish.

Hollywood just doesn’t seem to be getting the message.

The history of whitewashing goes way back.  Aoki talked to the BBC about white actors playing Asian villains in the Fu Manchu movie series and Mickey Rooney playing the buck-toothed heavily accented Japanese businessman in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

“The upshot of that is you are basically telling the audience ‘Don’t take Asian people seriously’.” said Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.

Sony’s film studio chief Tom Rothman sympathizes with some of the frustration diversity advocates are feeling.

“I guess there’s a certain institutional force and memory that exists out there,” he said. ““I think the industry’s improving but I certainly agree with those who say we haven’t come far enough fast enough.”

The fear among Hollywood executives is that actors of color don’t have the box office potential of White actors.

“I think it’s a balance between getting the very best actor for the part and being sure that diversity is properly represented on the screen”, he says. “I do think when you ask about Native Americans, when you ask about people of color on screen in general, I think that the business has to do a much better job of representing the diversity of the audience on screen.”

What are some of the reason behind the prevalence of whitewashing and how might it change in the future? You can read about that in the BBC.

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