Just to start with, I honestly don’t think anyone expected to see Scarlett Johansson mercilessly gunning down Asians in two separate movies:
Lucy (2014) – “You speak English?” *BLAM*
Ghost in the Shell (2017) – Well, at least they’re armed this time.
That’s a bit of a tangent, but still relevant as this was sparked by the live-action Ghost in the Shell adaptation, which premiered in theatres across the country today. It’s also worth starting things out with a diversion, if only because I didn’t want you to get into a breakdown of the title a split second after reading it.
FACT: All Asian Americans are Asian by definition, but not all Asians are Asian Americans. The truth is that most Asians aren’t. While they may share an ethnic heritage, as well as many cultural similarities, Asian people who were born and raised in and reside in an Asian country have vastly different wants and needs and priorities than those who were born and raised in and reside in North America [and other non-Asian countries].
For the purposes of clarity I will be referring to the former as “Asians”, and the latter as “Asian Americans”.
With all of that being said, it should be obvious that Asians and Asian Americans also have very different views when it comes to their shared representation in Western media. Continue reading
Posted in America, Asia, bizarreness, film, race, television
Tagged Asia, asian, Asian-American, casting, demographic, Ghost In The Shell, Japan, Japanese, Lucy, opinion, opportunity, perspective, race, representation, Scarlett Johansson, whitewashing
The culture war is a conversation.
While it is ultimately a conflict, more often than not this takes the form of ideas and criticism being slung back and forth across the trenches. To be heard is a minor success, but to be actually understood is victory.
Within this conversation it’s undoubtedly artists, especially those who have garnered celebrity status, who have the most powerful voices.
In 2014 the eponymous host of The Colbert Report featured a segment on his show about “The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. Given his popularity it reached far and wide, and was eventually viewed by a Twitter activist who created the hashtag #CancelColbert in response.
As it was meant to call attention to and ridicule the outrageous fact that a national sports team is named after an ethnic slur the response was out of line. It was a classic case of [obvious] satire being taken the wrong way, but by inadvertently contributing to what has been dubbed “a fake year of outrage’ this person’s misstep resulted in others who campaign for better representation and the like being worse than silenced, which is to say, ignored.
Despite calling out from what is ostensibly the same side, the misstep of a single loud voice meant that others were unheard.
The exchange between artist and critic is rarely ever an even one, and only becomes more difficult given the sensitivity surrounding such personal creative endeavours.
Lena Dunham is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, and received enough disapproval about the lack of diversity in a show set in New York City that she was asked about it by NPR. She responded that “[she takes] that criticism very seriously,” and that very same year had Donald Glover playing Hannah’s Black boyfriend on the show.
While the presence of Sandy on the dramedy was a beneficial one, with arguments between the two capturing the tension that can be present in interracial relationships [including such exchanges as: “I never thought about the fact that you were black once.” / “That’s insane. You should, because that’s what I am.”], Glover’s character faltered in that he was very much a response to criticism. Continue reading
Posted in art, celebrity, Comedy, communication, race, television, writing
Tagged #CancelColbert, activist, apology, art, asian, Asian-American, comedy, conversation, criticism, critics, Culture War, Ghost In The Shell, Girls, Kimmy Goes to a Play!, Kimono You Didn't, Lena Dunham, netflix, offence, outrage, race, racism, rape, Respectful Asian Portrayals in Entertainment, Scarlett Johannson, Tina Fey, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, voice, whitewashing, yellowface
I don’t think there’s anyone here who’s unfamiliar with the term “whitewashing” at this point.
It’s been a frequent topic of conversation here on Culture War Reporters, and while certainly not a new issue, it has been gaining wider and wider attention in recent years…
Most recently, the problem reared its ugly head in the form of Scarlett Johannson being cast in the live-action remake of anime classic Ghost In A Shell. Once again we’re seeing a traditionally non-white (in this specific case, Japanese) role being given to a white actor out of fear that audiences won’t watch movies with non-white leads. And if that were the only issue, I might have stuck with my usually political tirades and left this topic alone. But in the past few days, a shocking development has emerged in the story. Allegations have surfaced that the remake’s producers (and I quote) “Tested Visual Effects That Would Make White Actors Appear Asian“.
Or, as my best friend and this blog’s editor recently put it on Facebook:
“We think so little of you that we’d consider changing a White person’s appearance before entertaining the thought of casting an actual Asian.”
So yeah, I’m feeling compelled to write about this…
And let me tell you what really convinced me to submit the following rant. Continue reading
Posted in America, art, Asia, bizarreness, celebrity, film, race
Tagged appropriation, Arab, asian, bigotry, casting, CGI, Ghost In The Shell, Japan, Japanese, Nancy Ajram, Naveen Andrews, preconceptions, race, Racebending, racism, Rami Malik, Scarlett Johansson, stereotype, The Simpsons, white, whitewashing, Yasser Azmeh
Early this week I was perusing Marvel’s solicitations for May 2013, and came across the following cover for Avengers #11:
Art by Dustin Weaver.
The first part of the issue’s description [and the one I thought was most relevant] was the following:
As Shang-Chi battles an ancient enemy, the Avengers hang out in Hong Kong’s swankiest casino. Continue reading
Posted in art, Asia, bizarreness, comics, internet, race, writing
Tagged #11, Adi Tantimedh, anime, Asia, asian, avengers, Black Widow, Bleeding Cool, can't tell the difference, Cannonball, Captain Marvel, China, comic books, comics, cover, Deodato, disappointing, Dustin Weaver, Ghost In The Shell, Hickman, Hong Kong, indistinguishable, Japan, Japanese Culture, Jet Jaguar, Jonathan Hickman, lazy, Major Kusanagi, Marvel, Ninja, r/comics, race, racism, reddit, representation, Samurai, schoolgirl outfit, Shang-Chi, Spider-Woman, stereotypes, Sunspot, The Outhouse, Tokyo