The news is out: the script for the live-action adaptation of the manga classic Akira has been sent to a short list of actors that includes Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James MacAvoy, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.
Take a moment to read that list. Then read it again.
No, you have not read it incorrectly. Neither did I typo. None of those actors are Asian.
Honestly, I can’t manage anything except a dull sort of anger. I’ve gotten so used to Hollywood whitewashing everything. It’s not that it doesn’t make me upset every time, but when you’re whipped out the sword of indignation for every act of whitewashing, every comment of, “I don’t know why all you people are so angry that a white person got the job. They can act, can’t they?” then it tends to get blunted.
Nevertheless, here are some links regarding this casting decision:
This casting decision has come out only a little after the announcement that Jennifer Lawrence will be playing Katniss in The Hunger Games movie adaptation. I’ve seen people say, “Well, just because Katniss is olive skinned doesn’t mean she’s a person of color! Not all white people are lily white and blond! How dare you? Plus, her sister is fair-skinned and light-haired. Clearly, Katniss is white.” Siblings do not have to look alike, and a mixed sibling who codes as more “white” than their sister/brother is not a phenomenon. And you know what? Even if Katniss is not specified as biracial, even if Suzanne Collins has signed off on her–I am still upset. The point is not to prove that Katniss if biracial; the point is that she could have been played by an actress of color. It could have been an amazing opportunity. But when the role goes to a white actress, and the argument is, “Well, Suzanne Collins never said Katniss is biracial”; when even characters who are ethnically ambiguous are, by default, played by white actors, then when will actors of color ever get a chance? There are so few roles written for them as it is. (Also, just because Suzanne Collins has said she is a-okay with Lawrence playing the role doesn’t mean that we should all shut up. The author’s word is not The Word of God.)
And re: but Jennifer Lawrence is an amazing actress and will be able to play the role of Katniss! She was nominated for Best Actress! Well, so was Gabourey Sidibe. When’s the next big movie starring her?