Face it, it’s probably going to happen
Hollywood has a long history of casting white people to play the roles of Asian characters. From overtly offensive examples like Austro-Hungarian actor Peter Lorre’s character from the 1930s, Mr. Moto, to the more recent and no less problematic examples of whitewashing in films, such as The Great Wall and Ghost in the Shell, this ignorant practice has silenced Asian voices and appropriated their stories for white Hollywood. Unfortunately, with little to no progress being made in Hollywood in recent years, it has become clear that white people will continue to be casted in roles that make no sense for them to be casted in. So to that end, here are four white Hollywood actors that, will be probably be cast in a role that an Asian actor deserves far more for pretty obvious reasons.
1) Chris Pratt – Have you guys seen Guardians of the Galaxy? Jurassic World? Chris Pratt is one of the hottest actors in Hollywood. This is probably due to him being a quippy white guy who learned how to go to the gym. Yeah, they’re a dime a dozen, but did you see him in Parks and Recreation? He used to have a gut! That certainly makes him qualified for any role Hollywood decides to throw at him. Considering the fact that almost any successful film from an Asian country inevitably gets a much worse American adaptation (see: Oldboy, The Grudge, Rings), I’m sure Chris Pratt will get thrown this bone at some point in his career.
2) Keanu Reeves – not to take anything away from Keanu Reeves as an action star. John Wick was awesome and The Matrix is a classic. That being said, he gets a lot more credit than he’s due. If you’ve seen any of the many great action films made outside of the United States, you’d know some of the talent that is out there. Jackie Chan has an extensive filmography from long before he ever made a film in America that most Americans never look at. A more recent star, Iko Uwais, is sadly more known now for his small cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens than for his excellent performances in The Raid and its sequel, where he shows off his mastery of the martial art Penkat Silat. Keanu Reeves knows Kung-Fu, though, and let’s be honest: when it comes to casting the next big Hollywood adaptation of a massively successful action anime, that’s enough for white America.
3) Tina Fey – Tina Fey is a funny person, and has been an powerful voice of white feminism for years. Unfortunately she let’s her racism show a little bit too often to keep herself off this list. She deserves credit for being able to successfully write, produce, and sometimes direct a lot of the work she acts in. That’s impressive for anyone. However, Fey loves using this as an excuse to put herself and other white people in roles they probably shouldn’t be in. 30 Rock is a hilarious show, but it’s hard to ignore the repeated use of black and brown face makeup that is done for laughs. Not to mention Tina Fey’s starring role in the comedy about the war in Afghanistan, Whisky Tango Foxtrot. This took the conflict that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and turned it into its most natural state: A comedy about dating in a war zone starring two white woman (Fey and Margot Robbie) and British actor Alfred Molina in brown face as an Afghan. Tina Fey tells some hilarious stories about white people, but when it comes to anything else… Well, she doesn’t really care.
4) Jennifer Lawrence – Hollywood loves using white woman to portray Asian woman almost as much as it loves using white dudes to play literally every role ever. Emma Stone got her shot in 2015’s Aloha. There’s the previously mentioned Scarlett Johansson example in Ghost in the Shell. Even Katharine Hepburn played a character named Jade in the 1944 film Dragon Seed with taped eyelids and a black wig. So what’s all this got to do with J-Law? With no end in sight for the whitewashing, I am just hedging my bets that Lawrence will likely be the next white woman Hollywood will jam into a role that someone of Asian descent would deserve far more. But you know what, maybe that’s just being pessimistic. Lawrence would be aware of the issue, right? I thought so too; after all, she’s so charming and relatable because she talked about burping once in an interview. I lose some faith when I hear about how she scratched her butt on a sacred Hawaiian monument during the filming of Passengers with fellow inevitable white-washer Chris Pratt. That and the laughing that went along with the telling of that story.
Look, Hollywood probably will change with time. After all, art reflects reality and reality has changed just as film has. That being said, if this list comes true in any fashion, I think it’s safe to say Hollywood may never learn the reality in which their art is reflecting has several billion non-white people in it that deserve to be represented.
Edward Willshire is a second year Cinema, Photography and Visual arts student who will hopefully not be guilty of this one day. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org