|Rooney, you're an idiot.|
It's unfortunate, but there's a specific term for the whitewashing of Asian roles in film. It's called "Yellowface." Since the dawn of cinema, yellowfacing is a practice that essentially has white people portraying Asian characters on the big screen. This is done through make up, prosthetics, and of course, acting very Asian. Well, whatever Asian stereotypes the director wants to emphasize.
The earliest form of yellowfacing I can personally remember is Mickey Rooney's portrayal of Yunioshi in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's. But the one that perplexed me the most was the TV show Kung Fu. David Carradine was supposed to be a Shaolin munk. Okay, so they said that Caine's character is the son of an American father and a Chinese mother, because it's okay to portray to the American public a character that is the result of a white man to impregnated an Asian woman. (Don't get me started on this double standard). But still. Geez.
What really pissed me off was Starship Troopers. When I read the book, it was clear that the main character was Filipino (like me). Not only was this one of the first great science fiction books that drew me to the genre, but the main character was finally someone I could culturally relate to. For many people, this is difficult to fully understand. But for someone like me who saw nothing but white people as heroes on TV, movies, and books, it was a big deal.
And when the 1997 movie came out, I was ticked off. They had cast a white dude in the role of Juan "Johnny" Rico.
More recently, you have to turn to M. Night Shymalanananadingdong's piece of shit The Last Airbender. This was such an ASIAN cartoon show, with strong ties to Asian and Inuit folklore. The story was so very much Asian. And M. Night Shymmeltoe goes and just whitewashes the fuck out of it. Seriously? A little white kid as Aang? Katara and Sokku are NOT white. What's going on here?
How about Dragonball Z. Not only was it a crappy movie, you have some white guy playing the part of Goku. What-the-what???
Oh, how about Seann William Scott (who will always be Steve Stiffler from American Pie to me) as the Tibetan character Kar in Bulletproof Monk? That's cray-cray.
Why all of this whitewashing and yellofacing of Asian roles? The television exec. of the TV show Kung Fu, which was the brainchild of Bruce Lee, said that "If we put a yellow man up on the tube, the audience will turn the switch off in less than five minutes." Was he right?
And for those of you that believe we've come so far in 2012, you don't have to look too hard to see more whitewashing. Other than the abomination known as Akira, you've also got Mickey Rourke playing Genghis Khan coming up in 2013.
Just for the record, I don't have a problem with taking a movie that originated in Asia (i.e. The Ring), and Hollywood doing an American version of it. That's fine. But to take stories that are so inherently Asian and whitewashing it is my gripe.
|You are NOT Filipino!|
But I would love for Hollywood to break out of all the Asian stereotypes it is promoting. The only Asian male leads in film are martial arts movies. Other than that, we're either geeky sidekicks or...hmmm. And Asian women are portrayed as sex objects. But only objects for white men.
I acknowledge that we have come far, but we have so much more to do.