There’s been a lot of backlash from Asian Americans about the whitewashing of Hollywood characters, now the tinsel town is starting to take notice.
Movie News Guide reports that with the pressure mounting, some executives are feeling the heat and going on the defensive.
Marvel Executive Kevin Feige recently spoke up for the casting of Tilda Swinton in the upcoming Dr. Strange as the Ancient One , a character which has been depicted as an elderly man of Asian heritage.
“The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story. We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical story line.”
Not exactly the reaction Asian Americans were looking for. By focusing on gender bending, Feige completely ignored the racial issue and concerns of fans, downplaying it as insignificant.
On a more positive note, Dr. Strange’s director Scott Derrickson tweeted he’s open to hearing more from some of the casting critics.
Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cInema.
I am listening and learning.
— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) May 4, 2016
Unfortunately, he’s not making any promises about what he might do in the future, but he’s not being dismissive either.
The important things is the discussion has expanded beyond Asian circles. Trade publications such as The Hollywood Reporter have taken notice. Hollywood can no longer just ignore the backlash from fans. The power of social media has forced industry executives to address it.
The next step will be the toughest. Pushing them to change their narrow-minded ways.
How hopeful are you? Will we ever see the day when Hollywood doesn’t feel the need to whitewash Asian roles?
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