Until recently, conversations about diversity in Hollywood (or lack thereof) have tended to exclude the plight of Asian actors, filmmakers and technicians. Last year’s “Aloha” ignited a heated debate about whitewashing when Emma Stone was cast as a woman of Hawaiian and Chinese descent, and the recent one-two punch of Scarlett Johansson’s role in “Ghost in the Shell” (originally written as a Japanese character) and Tilda Swinton’s in “Doctor Strange” (Tibetan) has brought it to the fore once again. More and more stars are chiming in on the issue now, with Margaret Cho and George Takei being among the most vocal in recent days.
READ MORE: Why Hollywood Is Slow to Anoint Multicultural Movie Stars
Marvel’s decision to cast Swinton has proven especially controversial, not least because of the studio’s after-the-fact declaration that her character, the mystical Ancient One, is now Celtic. Takei took to Facebook to refute the studio’s justifications point by point (“They cast Tilda because they believe white audiences want to see white faces,” he wrote) and Margaret Cho led a discussion on Twitter under the #whitewashedOUT hashtag this morning.
“It’s intense,” she tweeted at one point. “It’s that we have been invisible for so long we don’t even know what we can do.” Cho acted as a sort of moderator for much of the conversation, retweeting the points she found most salient, while also contributing with such arguments as “Those who say racism doesn’t exist anymore are the biggest perpetuators of it.”
Industry-wide change is slow to come when it arrives at all, but it’s often spurred by debates such as this coming to more and more prominent attention — whether that proves to be the case this time remains to be seen.
For more, watch the “Doctor Strange” trailer: