Monday, 29 February 2016

Hollywood Babble On & On #1261: Whitewashing or Stereotyping?

Sorry I've been so lax with the posting lately. Things have been pretty busy lately, and there just wasn't enough time in the day. It's getting even tighter, but I will try to squeeze out what wisdom I can in the moment I can spare.

Today the term "whitewashing" gets tossed around a lot. The biggest uproar being over The Gods Of Egypt, which featured no Egyptians or anyone who looked Egyptian.

But I'm not talking about that film, because there was a bit of a point behind the criticism.

What I am going to talk about is where some critics are demanding that what they see as whitewashing be fixed by replacing it with a stereotype.

Allow me to explain.

Marvel cast a British actor to play Daniel Rand, also known as Iron Fist, a martial arts master who is partnered with Luke Cage as the Heroes for Hire to be featured on Netflix in Jessica Jones and probably Daredevil someday as well.
A Daredevil appearance is likely since Iron Fist was Daredevil for a while.
Well the outrage was quick in coming.

"WHITEWASHING!" they screamed, or tweeted, and demanded that an Asian actor get the role.

This made me ask 2 questions:

1. Is it really whitewashing?

2. Isn't the proposed solution of replacing Iron Fist with an Asian character stereotyping?

Let's think about it.

1. Iron Fist was always a white character. The whole premise of the character is that he is a Westerner who is taken in by Asian friends of his father after he is orphaned and is fully absorbed into their culture to the point where he dawns the mantle of the Iron Fist.

I guess you could say that it's all about cultural appropriation, but that's another story.

But let's get to stereotyping...

2. If you're an male Asian actor in Hollywood you get cast in one of three roles all the time, and they are:

A. Martial Arts Master
B. Triad Gang Member 
C. Math/Science Geek

How will pigeonholing an Asian actor into one of the three stereotypical Asian roles somehow right this perceived wrong?

Wouldn't it be better to show that there's a commercial viability in seeing an Asian character in a non-stereotypical role? Or if you're not willing to take that leap, at least try to get Marvel to bring in Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu.

Maybe, folks are just looking for something to be offended over so they can tweet about something without the effort of trying to be interesting.

That's what I think, put what you think in the comments.