A mere sampling of some the films mentioned in Feminist Frequency’s thorough history of Hollywood whitewashing: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Apache,” “Murder Over New York,” “Prince of Persia,” “Aloha,” “Gods of Egypt,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Dr. Strange,” and “A Beautiful Mind.”
Host Anita Sarkeesian walks us through these examples while laying out in simple terms just why such images are so harmful:
“One of the most insidious tools of white supremacy is its insistence on whiteness as the racial default or as an ethnic ’empty’ category. White people manage to exist in a kind of invisible zone, where they are assumed to not have a race or ethnicity. This allows whiteness to wear the cultural, religious, or social signifiers of other ethnic communities, as if they were merely accessories to be purchased at the mall. Oh wait, they are.”
Cue hovering images of a dreamcatcher and a kefiyah (a traditional Arab head scarf). Sarkeesian then turns to countless more recent examples of Hollywood casting white actors in roles that are either meant to be people of color in the film (“Aloha”), were originally people of color in the fictional source material (“Ghost in the Shell”), or were originally people of color in the true story on which the films are based (“A Beautiful Mind.”) Not to mention a short clip from “2 Broke Girls” featuring an accented, nerdy Asian character named Han Lee, played by Asian American actor Mathew Moy.
Seeing all the instances where people of color have either been erased, used as a caricature, or completely written out of their own stories is disheartening, to say the least. But Sarkeesian ends on a high note, touting recent television hits like “Atlanta” and “Master of None,” as well as the record-breaking box office success of “Get Out” as reasons to reverse the trend.
Watch the video below to get a fuller picture: