Whitewashing


No, it’s not just some quaint thing people used to do to fences.

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Make America paint again!

I was reading about a conversation Margaret Cho had with Tilda Swinton about the latter’s appearance in the recent Doctor Strange movie. She played a mystical character who lived in Asia and according to many, should have been played by an Asian actor.

One the one hand, I absolutely agree that it’s long overdue for us to have Asian actors getting more roles (well, it’s actually kind of hard to define “Asian” as anything other than “people from Asia”, but that gives us white people who live in Siberia. You know what I mean with the word). We have black super-stars and white ones, and even a few extremely well-known Hispanics. But famous Asians are pretty few and far between in Hollywood.

However…maybe this isn’t the best choice for a target here. Would it really have been better to have the stereotypical wise master who flings magic and does martial arts be played by an Asian? Wouldn’t that have just been another part of the problem? If that had happened, I can pretty much promise that people would be complaining about it.

Part of the problem is the role itself, but it is what it is and it’s something that would be hard to really change at this point without also coming off as problematical.

Really, this is perhaps one that I would have liked to see activists just sort of ignore. Fight the bigger fight. It’s very true that too many Asian actors aren’t cast in prominent roles and that should change (though Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari and Kal Penn are proof of some progress). But possibly Doctor Strange is just too much of a no-win.

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One Response to “Whitewashing”

  1. Kyko Micsu Says:

    I don’t think Doctor Strange has to be asian even if the first one was an Asian martial arts master before becoming a superhero. Often more than one person has took the same superhero identity. Lingchan Wong might’ve been the first Doctor Strange, but he retired, there were many after him, and Samantha Leanne “Sam” Barton is the 10th and current Doctor Strange.


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