Whitewashing: A Hollywood Story

Putting the spotlight on the 'whitewashing' of major Hollywood blockbusters.

Over the past few years there has been a lot of controversy over Hollywood’s casting choices in major blockbuster films, mainly the replacement of characters who stem from an Oriental or African-American background with white actors. There is an argument for why this is done in films, personally I don’t understand or agree with it, but there are plenty of people who don’t seem to see it as an issue (mainly the production teams).

Most recent examples of the ‘whitewashing’ talking point include Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell (2017), and Tilda Swinton in Dr Strange (2016). The former does make one question why Hollywood decided to opt for a Caucasian female lead for what is originally a Japanese character. Actresses such as Rila Fukushima of The Wolverine (2013) fame would have been a perfect choice for the role, or even Koyuki Kato from The Last Samurai (2003).

Then we have the casting in Dr Strange. Although Tilda Swinton is a fantastic actress (same goes for Scarlett Johansson) it just seems unnecessary for the casting. Lucy Liu has the acting chops to be in this role for sure, she has proved to have a range to cover most roles she lands. What about Michelle Yeoh of the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) fame? It just doesn’t make sense that these actresses weren’t cast.

The movie biz has been a hotbed of controversy over the past few years with such things as the #OscarsSoWhite trend that surrounded the awards in 2015 and 2016. The lack of diversity in the nominees caused outrage, with actors such as Chris Rock going on a well-deserved rant about the issue.

With this year’s Oscars looking to have a more diverse range of nominees it is hopeful that this apparent trend will soon be over. Just as long as they don’t cast Johnny Knoxville as Detective Lee in any Rush Hour (1998) reboot we should be okay.

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