Why Hollywood is Whitewashing Characters of Minority Aug02

Why Hollywood is Whitewashing Characters of Minority...

Two movies that came out fairly recently—Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell—did so amid allegations of whitewashing after both cast a white actor in the role of an Asian character: Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi. One response to whitewashing I’ve seen goes something like this: “Well, if you’re upset about [white actor] being cast as [person of colour character], then you should be equally upset about [person of colour actor] being cast as [white character].” And they bring up Heimdall, played by Idris Elba in the Thor movies, as an example. But this isn’t a tit-for-tat issue. Whitewashing is more than just a matter of choosing an actor for a role; money and politics often influence casting decisions. And, when we look at the complexities around whitewashing, we have to keep privilege and cultural context in mind. It’s all about the money Take, for example, Tilda Swinton’s casting as the Ancient One, a traditionally Tibetan character. Currently, the second largest movie market in the world is China, which also has volatile relations with Tibet; the Chinese Communist party and its army occupied Tibet in 1951 and, since 2009, there have been 148 confirmed self-immolations by Tibetans in protest of China’s occupancy. Acknowledging the Ancient One’s Tibetan ancestry would have caused China to reject the movie, which means Doctor Strange would have lost out on that audience and, therefore, the money. The “safe” move for Doctor Strange‘s producers, both politically and monetarily, was to change the Ancient One’s ancestry from Tibetan to Celtic to ensure that the movie was picked up in China. It’s important that those of us who have white skin remember that we have a certain amount of privilege. An actor’s monetary-drawing power can...

Losing to Win: Doctor Strange and Fear Nov09

Losing to Win: Doctor Strange and Fear...

I despise losing at important things in life. I hate failing people, failing at jobs, failing to follow certain rules that end up getting me in trouble, and especially failing myself. Sometimes I am my worst enemy. I kick myself far worse and far longer than any outside consequence or berating. When I went to the movie theater to see Doctor Strange last weekend, I expected another typical superhero film focusing on the final battle between the villain and hero, not in a bad way at all, but that’s how most superhero films tend to go. Instead, I left the theater recognizing how crippling my fear of failure has been this past year. Doctor Strange didn’t focus on the epic battles between a villain and the hero, it focused on the battle between the hero and his own inner demons. Sometimes you have to lose in order to win. Stephen Strange was an excellent, albeit prodigy, surgeon. He succeeded with every patient he accepted, and this fueled his ambition and arrogance. Despite this exterior, he still refused patients, ones that weren’t challenging enough and ones he thought were unfixable. The latter surprised me because refusing patients seemed contradictory to his utter confidence in his abilities. Ironically, after looking away from the road for but a few seconds, Doctor Strange becomes the unfixable. The devastating accident robs him of his steady hands, ending his career as a surgeon. Doctor Strange completely falls apart. Desperately, he spends his savings trying procedure after procedure to regain full mobility. Every effort fails, leaving him with incurable tremors. During a physical therapy session, he hears about a patient who miraculously recovered from paralysis—by unconventional methods. As a final resort, Strange spends the last of his money to travel to...