Thursday, June 23, 2016

Whitewashing in Hollywood - We can't even get diversity when the roles are written FOR us?!

Ummm....yeah it's a problem.

I've seen uproar about this here and there lately, and of course it irked me but, as I started doing research I found that this "whitewashing" of characters has been an issue for a really long time in Hollywood. I'm not talking about blackface, I'm talking about white actors just straight up playing characters that were written as nonwhite... and no one seems to have an issue with it.

An old example is Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra. A more recent example is Jake Gyllenhaal playing Dastan in Prince of Persia. Basically, instead of trying to find someone who is actually from the correct character in which a character is written, Hollywood goes to the default: white, because you know there's already too many roles for people of colour anyways. 

This because a more complex problem when we have straight up white people playing mixed people. For example Emma Stone playing Allison Ng in Aloha, and Angelina Jolie playing Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart. Not to mention perhaps the most controversial, Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in Nina (although she isn't white there were race issues at hand here). 

So why is this an issue? What's the problem?

There are quite specific issues with all of the casting of these roles, but the main issue remains the same. White actors are replacing POC in the small number of roles that are ACTUALLY MEANT TO BE PEOPLE OF COLOUR. 

Listen, whitewashing in this industry and even my industry is a major diversity issue. POC are barely proportionately represented in media. So when we have an opportunity to be represented (especially in situations where it's a true f*cking story so it should be a true f*cking represenation) and we're STILL not represented or able to take the opportunity, yeah I take issue with that.

But how do we solve it?

Honestly I don't know. It's up to casting directors to open their minds a bit and realize what they're doing and the plethora of talent in front of them. It's pretty simple. If a character is supposed to be of any origin OTHER THAN CAUCASIAN then (and this is just a shot in the dark) maybe don't cast a caucasian actor/model... just throwing that out there.

It's crazy because it seems like this WILD idea. White models and actors already dominate the industry, so it seems bizarre not to consider them for roles, even if those roles aren't meant to be a white person. 

The conversation has to change. The industries need to diversify. And straight up people need to get educated. If you don't see a problem with a white person playing a character that is specifically written as a person of colour (whether it's a historical, geographical, whatever kind of reference) then you need to get educated on representation in media and the experiences of POC in the entertainment industry. 

If Hermione's black there's an uproar (even though she was never specifically mentioned as being white), but if Christian Bale is supposed to play a Middle Eastern character (in a freakin' biblical film)... no one cares. And in that case, the director basically said that he didn't even consider casting Middle Eastern actors because he wouldn't get funding if the actors were unknown. Good excuse dude, that totally makes it okay that you're perpetuating whitewashing in Hollywood. It's cool, we'll get over it. 

And that's the attitude, it's as if we're supposed to get over it. For real, let's stop putting POC in overly demonstrative roles and at least give them the chance to play coloured characters on screen. 

What do you think of this issue? Do you think it's something that can be solved or needs to be solved? Let me know in the comments below! 

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