Over the past years of being active on Twitter, I often caught myself scrolling through content that had been meme’d up by the Twitter community. I caught myself finding out about a new ways Hollywood was being problematic by casting white, and unrelated to the specific culture, actors for colourful roles. by Tweets that were mocking this and making fun of how uneducated Hollywood was for doing this. It changed my perspective on whitewashing and ways Hollywood and any other movie producing company should treat cultures and adapt to a more educated world. Therefore, I was wondering to what extent this woke and meme’d up content could be impacting the actual movie producing companies by shining a light on what should be changed.
This term is frequently used to refer to for example an Asian-based movie that casts non-Asians to play the role.
A term that now has also come to refer to the entertainment industry’s attempt at making ethnic characters more appealing to the white, money-spending masses by making exotic characters less ethnic and more “white.” – Urban Dictionary
Whitewashing has been going on for plenty of years in especially the Hollywood movie scene, which is what will be looked at.
Which Movies Have Whitewashed Cast(members)/Content
Ghost In A Shell, you have probably heard about it. Scarlett Johansson plays the role of a Japanese character in this adaptation of artist Masamune Shirow’s well-known manga series.
Also, Annihilation turned out to be whitewashed since characters in the book were described and were told that they had Native American roots.
Emma Stone received a lot of controversy for displaying a half-Chinese and half-Native Hawaiian descendant in the movie Aloha.
And one of the more recent ones, Death Note, a movie take on the Japanese manga series where Nat Wolff is cast as Light Turner and the movie is set in Seattle.
These are just a few examples of movies that have whitewashed their characters/stories. Read more about movies that have whitewashed before here at Complex.
Online Content Mocking Whitewashing
Now it doesn’t take long after the announcement of a new movie, that the news travels around on the internet.
This recent, funny take on the issue with whitewashing sparked my attention and got me thinking about how the internet treats these cases. Better said, how the internet might be changing the way casting/story treatment could start happening with new movies.
I was at the nike store flexin today when some of the associates said I look like Scarlett Johansson and this shit kinda trippy but I think I see it, what do y’all think tho??! pic.twitter.com/n4MA76dquh
— kalevira (@radvillainy) December 9, 2018
Now, it is well-known that Scarlett Johansson has a problematic past of being cast for non-white roles. This clever take on the issue does address is perfectly.
During the release of Ghost In A Shell, a marketing campaign was launched and it got the exact opposite reaction the team was probably hoping for. When Twitter unleashed their take on the campaign by meme’ing the entire movie because of their whitewashing (see more here).
— John Wusah (@JohnWusah) March 14, 2017
You can imagine, this type of online content that is breaking the reputation of movies due to their lack of education on the culture is something movie companies are trying to avoid. With the constant conversation online about the inclusivity and representation in movies, it is definitely something an entire movie team should be aware of.
keep it. we don’t want a white-washed Aladdin movie when you know it isn’t that hard to find and cast Middle-eastern actors. we still have some hope for live-action Mulan-.. https://t.co/XRaW5AgJKb
— 𝐥𝐢𝐚☽ | 𝐝𝐩𝐬 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧 (@RXMANSPHOENIX) January 10, 2018
Online Community Motivating Movie Companies
I strongly recall the anticipation for the announcement of the live-action movie of Mulan. The anticipation, and of course the fear, of what the cast of the movie (which is set in China) would look like was trending.
Though, I can happily say that Disney had done their research and cast a non-problematic cast and people with the appropriate cultural background for Mulan.
— BuzzFeed Arts & Entertainment (@BuzzFeedEnt) November 29, 2017
Some reactions to the announcement of the cast were incredible. They show that when it’s shown that there is a caring and correct treatment to the culture that is portrayed in a movie or where the movie stems from, people notice it and find it really important.
Thank goodness Scarlett Johansson wasn’t available for this one 😅
— Smoke Bro 💨 (@SuperSmokeBro) November 29, 2017
Future of Casting In Movies
The instant feedback movie makers can receive online, should be used by them to know what is happening in the community and should be taken to heart. Representation matters and people want to see their cultures respected and appreciated. We can all learn to be inclusive and show our respect towards one another. It is important to make a joke out of it like Twitter users have been doing because it seems to slowly better the understanding of Hollywood and the way to go. In the future, let’s try to educate ourselves and learn from each other. Hopefully, online communities can continue impacting Hollywood and the way they cast and represent cultures.