Whitewashed Diversity Still Unsolved in Hollywood
February 22, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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Although movies and TV shows have seen an increase in African American actors, there have still been plenty of movies where white actors played people of color and society just went along with it. America is such a diverse melting pot that there is still a long way to go before we see equal representation for all minorities.
With a live-action “Mulan” movie in the making, people are all wondering the same thing. Will Hollywood finally make a movie that stays true to its roots, or will they white wash it like everything else? Anyone who’s seen the original Disney movie knows that the movie is based in China with a large collection of Chinese members, but there’s been more than one occasion where a role was given to already popular white actor instead of another up-and-coming performer. Hopefully this won’t be a repeat of a movie such as, “The Last Airbender”, where all the characters were miscast and given to white actors instead of being portrayed by Asian or Asian American actors.
As much as blackface was once an issue, yellowface has seen a rise in recent television. DreamWorks and Paramount recently produced “Ghost in the Shell”, a film starring Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg, Motoko Kusanagi, in the Japanese anime classic. When the screenwriter, Max Landis explained his reasoning behind his casting decisions he said, “there are no A-list female Asian celebrities right now on an international level.” Unfortunately, Mr. Landis is wrong for believing this, but if this were true, how are Asian celebrities supposed to make a name for themselves in an industry that won’t even give them the chance?
Only in recent years there’s been a growing discussion about the unequal representation of African Americans in lead roles, and in less time than that has there been any social awareness brought to this issue. Before, it was almost normal, or at least popular, to see a person of color as the evil character or as a supporting character who died early on. Although there has been some change in the media industry, there are still some improvements to be made. From a negative portrayal of minorities, unsatisfactory ratings, and the lack of diversity in people who manage programing, progress will only be seen when these issues are taken care of.
Of course I enjoy watching my daily dose of diversity on screen with people like Shemar Moore on “Criminal Minds”, but what about the other minorities? Hispanics, East Asians, and Indians are other groups who should have more screen time but sadly aren’t given enough. It’s understandable that the movie industry wants to make a profit by appealing to the vast majority of people with money, but times have changed. America’s society has developed considerably, and it’s impossible to categorize everyone under one image. There’s more to being American now than just tall, blonde, and English speaking.
One movie that recently came out, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” starred Diego Luna, a Mexican Actor, as Cassian Andor. Although Luna spoke with an accent, he was still very capable at playing the male main lead. As a Mexican American, his role was a significant moment in cinematic history because he had a major part in a film with an established cult and he wasn’t typecast or stereotyped. He is proof that people of color are more than capable of starring as the lead while carrying out an impressive performance despite our media’s history.
Although it’s very important for African Americans to have their time in front of the screen, I think people would like to see a more accurate representation of what the world actually looks like. It would be entertaining to watch a wide range of cultures and ethnicities have the opportunity to express themselves and take on roles that they would once never have been considered. There are a profuse amount of actors and actresses from colorful backgrounds who have not been able to base themselves because they haven’t been given the proper opening, only time will tell when Hollywood is ready because their audience has been waiting.