2018 is the year of being woke, and part of that includes calling out whitewashing in Hollywood movies, especially when the books they’re based off are diverse and inclusive.
For instance, the latest drama seems to be centered around the newly released adaptation Annihilation. The film’s casting has led to criticism from multiple organizations, including the Media Action Network for Asian Americans and American Indians in Film and Television.
“Writer/director Alex Garland is not being true and honest to the characters in the book,” said MANAA board member Alieesa Badreshia. “He exploits the story but fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character. Hollywood rarely writes prominent parts for Asian American and American Indian characters, and those roles could’ve bolstered the careers of women from those communities.”
Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who joins an expedition into an area where physical laws don’t seem to matter. In Jeff VanderMeer’s sequel to Annihilation, Authority, the character is described as being of Asian descent, with “dark, thick eyebrows, a slight, slightly off-center nose (broken once, falling on rocks), and high cheekbones that spoke to the strong Asian heritage on one side of her family.” Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the allegedly half-American Indian, half-Caucasian psychologist.
VanderMeer has remained quiet on the issues raised, but did go on record saying he “never expected or wanted a faithful adaptation—just a good one.” In that way, the adaptation seems to have hit the mark, receiving a 3.5/4 rating from Roger Ebert and currently holding 86% and 80 on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively.
Whitewashing isn’t new in Hollywood, but I think we can all agree it should be on the decline. Here are five of the most ridiculous instances of whitewashing in Hollywood.
1. Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange
Image via Variety
Swinton plays The Ancient One in Disney and Marvel’s Doctor Strange, a character in the comics who is traditionally of Asian descent.
2. Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell
Image via South China Morning Post
Johansson got a bunch of criticism for accepting the lead role in Hollywood’s remake of Ghost in the Shell, as Masamune Shirow’s classic manga is comprised entirely of Japanese characters.
3. Everyone in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Image via Indie Wire
Honestly, did they even try?
4. Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind
Image via Indie Wire
Jennifer Connelly won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind, but did you know that real-life Nash is El Salvadorian?
5. Jim Sturgess in Cloud Atlas
Image via The Telegraph
There are a lot of problems with Cloud Atlas, but the worst might be the decision to augment British actor Jim Sturgess’ eyes to appear Asian. The movie takes place in a futuristic Neo-Seoul and does co-star Korean actress Doona Bae, but otherwise, four of the five top-billed actors are white men, with Halle Berry rounding out the most recognizable actors in the film.
Featured Image via Wikipedia.