“The Martian,” starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott, is the latest film to be accused of white-washing roles meant for Asians. In the book from which the movie was adapted, Mindy Park is identified as Korean-American scientist while NASA’s Director of Mars Operations was identified as an Asian Indian. White actress Mackenzie Davis played Park’s role and black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor played the NASA’s director.
In a statement from Guy Aoki, the president for the Media Action Network for Asian Americans or MNAA, Scott’s decision not to cast Asian actors for the said roles was slammed. “Was Ridley Scott not comfortable having two sets of Asian Americans talking to each other?” Aoki wrote.
“So few projects are written specifically with Asian American characters in them and he’s now changed them to a white woman and black man. This was a great opportunity to give meaty roles to talented Asian American actors – and boost their careers – which would have enabled our community to become a greater part of the rescue team,” Aoki wrote more.
MANAA also raised the same point against “Aloha,” a movie set in Hawaii but had cast Bradley Cooper, Bill Murray, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride and John Krasinki. “Caucasian only makes up 30 percent of the population of Hawaii, but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent,” Aoki wrote at the time. He noted that such practice was also observed in “The Descendants,” “50 First Dates,” “Blue Crush,” and “Pearl Harbor” of which use Hawaii for “its exotic backdrop but goes out of its way to exclude the very people who live there.” Aoki said such practice was “an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.
It seems that Hollywood has no plans of getting rid of the bad habit. According to a report from Deadline, Marvel’s “Dr. Strange” will have Tilda Swinton playing the part of an old Tibetan man. Scarlett Johansson was also cast in “Ghost In The Shell,” as Motoko Kusanagi, a Japanese character based from a popular anime series. GOOD reported that fans of the anime series is now calling for Johansson to be removed from the film.
Movie Pilot noted that Scott is also behind “Exodus,” a biblical epic without Egyptian actors in speaking roles. The website further noted that “Pan’s” Tiger Lily was white, played by actress Rooney Mara. Movie Pilot raised an interesting point about films white-washing roles meant for other culture – they performed poorly at the box office. Such is the case of “Pan,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Stonewall;” as compared to films like “Straight Outta Compton,” “War Room” and “The Perfect Guy.”