"Go on and laugh your Benetton, Kumbaya, Kashi, quinoa laugh, but it’s true: The most progressive force in Hollywood today is the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies. They’re loud, ludicrous, and visually incoherent. They’re also the last bunch of movies you’d expect to see in the same sentence as ‘incredibly important.’ But they are — if only because they feature race as a fact of life as opposed to a social problem or an occasion for self-congratulation. (And this doesn’t even account for the gay tension between the male leads, and the occasional crypto-lesbian make-out.) The fifth installment, ‘Fast Five,’ comes out Friday, and unlike most movies that feature actors of different races, the mixing is neither superficial nor topical. It has been increasingly thorough as the series goes on—and mostly unacknowledged. That this should seem so strange, so rare, merely underscores how far Hollywood has drifted from the rest of culture."
"There can be no mistaking what Zero Dark Thirty shows: torture plays an outsized part in Maya’s success. The first detainee she helps to interrogate is Ammar. He is tortured extensively in the film’s opening sequence, immediately after we hear the voices of World Trade Center victims. Ammar’s face is swollen; we see him strung up by ropes, waterboarded, sexually humiliated, deprived of sleep through the blasting of loud music, and stuffed into a small wooden box. During his ordeal, Ammar does not initially give up reliable information. After he has been subdued and fooled into thinking that he has already been cooperative while delirious, however, he gives up vital intelligence about the courier over a comfortable meal."
None of this sort of argument [against torture] is available to viewers of Zero Dark Thirty. It would hardly have undermined the film’s drama to have included such strong dissents, even in passing, in the interest of journalism that was more complete. The only qualms any of the CIA characters in the film express about torture are oblique and self-protecting. Dan, an interrogator portrayed by the actor Jason Clarke, laments wearily, as he rotates back to headquarters, that he has seen too many men naked, and that he fears the political environment in Washington that once created a permissive atmosphere for his dark arts may now be turning against them.
The film’s torture scenes depart from the historical record in two respects. Boal and Bigelow have conflated the pseudoscience of the CIA’s clinical, carefully reviewed “enhanced techniques” such as waterboarding with the out-of-control abuse of prisoners by low-level military police in places such as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. Dan puts Ammar in a dog collar and walks him around in an act of ritualized humiliation, but this was never an approved CIA technique.
More importantly, Zero Dark Thirty ignores what the record shows about how regulated, lawyerly, and bureaucratized—how banal—torture apparently became at some of the CIA black sites. A partially declassified report prepared by the CIA’s former inspector general, John Helgerson, indicates that physicians from the CIA’s Office of Medical Services attended interrogation sessions and took prisoners’ vital signs to assure they were healthy enough for the abuse to continue. Agency officers typed out numbingly detailed cables and memos about the enhanced interrogation sessions, as the available outline of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s classified investigation makes clear. Videotapes were recorded and logged. This CIA office routine might have been more shocking on screen than the clichéd physical abuse of prisoners that the filmmakers prefer.
The best critique on ZDT so far. Read this.
What needs to stop is this whitewashing apologism
there are a lot of these messages in the divergent fandom. i’m going to be nice about it.
Please everyone, stop getting into fights about the races of the characters. Who cares if Tobias is a mixed race? who cares if Christina is black? seriously guys.
even if a character ends up being a different race than described in the book, they were chosen for that part because they were good actors. Not because they looked the part.
And everyone who posting messages like this, you’re not being very nice either. calling everyone who is fancasting stupid and stuff.
Please people, stop this nonsense and just bring the fandom back to the way it was. The movie news is tearing us apart.
They are fancasts for a reason.
Lots of people care.
Because it’s important. They care a great deal. Lots of people, though obviously not you, have had to grow up in a world where they hardly ever get see any significant or positive representations of people who look like they do.
How can you, who has never ever ever ever been deprived of representation like that, brush it off like it’s trivial? How can you even pretend to know how important it is, ought to be, can be, to someone, just because it doesn’t matter to you?
And now you want to deny other people what you have always had, what you apparently assume is just your natural right to have unquestioned.
I have a hard time believing the bullshit about it only being based on talent, when they don’t appear to have considered anyone who wasn’t white in the first place. Did you notice how nobody rushed to defend Idris Elba for the part of James Bond because of talent? But that it’s the first thing people throw out in the reverse situation. And no one bothers to back it up either, it’s just like, Weeellll, I’m sure they got chosen because of talent!
Why are you so sure? Because otherwise you’d have to contemplate the uncomfortable reality that Hollywood just might prejudiced? And that this has harmful effects on some of your fellow human beings?
And then you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your movie without completely ignoring the parts of it that are actively hurting other people. Poor you.
And I mean, are you really saying you don’t think there are any PoC actors within the ranks of “Most Talented?” And how is it, that even white actors who give bad performances keep getting work as long as they have a certain look? And why does every casting call leaked in situations like this turn out to have specifically asked for white people?
Let’s face it, they are casting for appearance, and they are casting for the wrong appearance. You apparently don’t even think that’s a bad thing, so I don’t know why you are bothering to make up excuses for them.
And re:fancasts, do you know what really isn’t nice? Erasing the PoC identities of characters and doing and saying things that imply PoC aren’t attractive or suitable enough to even represent themselves. That, is really fucking not nice.
Seriously wtf was up with that “a”? Like it’s a noun or something. That’s really fucking rude.
Yellow Face and Orientalism in the Media: Controlling What it Means to be Asian
[Inspired by my Amplify associate, Karachi, and her post on Blackface, Slurs and Appropriation]
Yellow Face isn’t just the mere inauthenticity and a failure of aesthetics of white people dressing up, wearing make up, trying to be Asian, and/or playing the roles of Asians. No, it’s definitely more insidious and problematic than that. It is systematic racism and discrimination, refusing to hire Asians or forcing them to play as villains, or when they receive a major role, it is typically a stereotypical one (i.e., martial arts, ‘wise man’, ‘dragon lady’, etc). It simulates a crude idea of what ‘Asians’ look like, all the while perpetuating terrible stereotypes, controlling what it means to be Asian whether it’s in person, on the stage, or on screen.
Orientalism: It’s a dichotomy created by the ‘West,’ it builds a view of the ‘East’ along with many elements of this culture that becomes obscured and exotic. Making a whole group of people seen as something monolithic, creating an erasure of actual identities.
I’m not even going to try to bother with getting too in-depth about the obvious cultural appropriation, ethnocentrism, and orientalism (not too much at least). I’m not going to go into Yellow Face on stage, in whitewashing (too much), in Europe, nor will I take the time to go through political caricatures of Asians throughout history. [Not that it’s less important or there’s a lack of evidence.] These following examples and history checks should do enough for now in getting my point across. (Please find a friend in Google if you really want to educate yourself though! Thank you!)
So, why did Yellowface occur? Was there a shortage of Asian people to play these Asian roles during the times this practice was most rampant (19th and 20th century)?
Meet Sessue Hayakawa (Born 1889-Death 1973), the first Asian American leading actor. He was one of the highest paid actors of his time. His talents were definitely recognized by Paramount Pictures and was even considered a sex icon. But despite all of this, he still met discrimination and racism everywhere he went. He was always forced to either play “the exotic villain” or “the exotic lover.” He waited for his turn to be casted as a hero of color, but it never came.
This is Anna May Wong (1905-1961). During the 1920s-1930s, Anna was given many different roles as a contracted Paramount Pictures actress, but they were always either as a “dragon lady” or a “butterfly lady.” Despite all of that, she was still a household name and was considered a fashion icon.
She was the top contender for the leading role of O-Lan, a Chinese heroine for the movie The Good Earth (1937) by MGM, but that role was later given to Luise Rainer (definitely not Asian). MGM went to her and tried to give her another role for a film called Lotus, but it meant that she had to be the villain again, so she turned it down and left for Europe for more opportunities and eventually went back to Paramount Pictures.
Say hello to Philip Ahn (1905-1973). For the film, Anything Goes, Ahn was initially rejected by the director, Lewis Milestone, because—I shit you not, he said this to Philip Ahn—he thought Philip’s “English was too good for the part.” During World War II, Philip Ahn was often forced to play roles of Japanese villains. He even received death threats because people thought he was actually Japanese.
Other Asian actors/actresses: Barbara Jean Wong, Fely Franquelli, Benson Fong, Chester Gan, Honorable Wu, Kam Tong, Keye Luke, Layne Tom Jr., Maurice Liu, Philip Ahn, Richard Loo, Lotus Long, Rudy Robles, Suzanna Kim, Teru Shimada, Willie Fung, Victor Sen Yung, Toshia Mori and Wing Foo.
Merle Oberon can also be added to the list, although she was part white/part Asian. She had to lie about her origins and applied whitening make up to pass as fully white. Other Asian actors and actresses: Jack Soo, Pat Morita, Mako, Bruce Lee, Lucy Liu, Margaret Cho, B.D. Wong, Amy Hill, Jennie Kwan, Masi Oka, James Lee, Ming Na, Daniel Dae Kim, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Charlyne Yi, Miyoshi Umeki, Shin Koyamada, John Cho, Brenda Song, and George Takei. Click on this link to see a hundred more.
After going through the list, ask yourself why the majority of the actors and actresses here are either in some martial arts movies or some other stereotypical crap?
TL;DR this section: There definitely wasn’t a shortage of Asian American actors and actresses. And there still isn’t.
Very Few Examples (of Very Many) of Yellowface in History:
Nil Ashter as General Yen from The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)
What Nils Ashter really looked like:
Harold Huber as Ito Takimura in Little Tokyo, USA (1942)
Interestingly enough, everyone who was a “bad guy” in this was portrayed as Japanese. Even more interesting, this was around the same time Japanese Internment Camps were happening.
What Harold Huber really looked like:
Katharine Hepburn as Jade Tan in in Dragon Seed (1944)
Katharine Hepburn just a few years after Dragon Seed:
Jennifer Jones as Dr. Han Suyin in Love is a Many Splendored-Thing (1955)
Another interesting concept found in this movie. “BEING WITH ASIAN WOMEN IS SO HOT AND EXOTIC. LET’S FETISHIZE THE SHIT OUT OF THEM.” Yup.
What Jennifer Jones actually looks like:
John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror (1956)
John Wayne, y’all:
Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Mickey Rooney at that time:
Joel Grey as Chiun (Kung Fu Master, everyone—on the left) in Remo Williams (1985)
What Joel Grey really looked like:
Other cases I haven’t really taken the time to cover: Charlie Chan Series (Actors who played as Charlie Chan from 1931-1981: Warner Oland, Sidney Toler, Roland Winters, Peter Ustinov) Fu Manchu, Madame Butterfly, The Teahouse of the August Moon, Shanghai Express, The Manchurian Candidate, Sayonara, Mr. Moto Series, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, Short Circuit (1986 & 1988), The Party, Gunga Din, Broken Blossoms, The Year of Living Dangerously, etc.
I mean, I guess you could say, “But those movies were decades ago!”
Alex Borstein as Ms. Swan.
Nicholas Cage as Fu Manchu (2007)
(Other actors who played the role of Fu Manchu starting from the 1920s up ‘til now: H. Agar Lyons, Warner Oland, Boris Karloff, Harry Brannon, Christopher Lee, and Peter Sellers)
Christopher Walken as Feng (2007)
Rob Schneider as Asian Minister in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (2007)
M. Night’s The Last Airbender (2010)
Well, the show was based on Asian and Inuit culture. But just look at the casting. The three protagonists are all light skinned while Zuko (played by Dev Patel in the movie) is dark skinned, and by default in this movie, the bad guy. Someone please just remake this movie. Please.
British Actor, Jim Sturgess, (rocking bad eye prosthetics) playing as a Korean in Cloud Atlas (2012)
Like I said - I continue to refuse to support media businesses which overtly show you they’re totally about segregation era- hiring practices - because how much more obvious can it get than…
“We wanted an asian character, but we hired a white person, and even though we say it’s about acting chops MORE THAN APPEARANCE, we decided to dress them up to LOOK ASIAN, so in reality what we’re saying is we wanted someone who ‘looked asian’ but we were too damn racist to consider giving that money to an actual asian so instead we spent lots of money on make up and CGI to instead, so that tells you how much money we’re willing to drop to make sure we don’t accidentally give any Asian actors a paycheck.”
This was a great movie. I was surprised at how much I liked it - I really came in just going, “If I see some neat videogame shit, I’m cool” but they gave me a good story, lots of action and some pretty amazing visual effects. I give it 4.5/5.
Wreck-It Ralph is a villain in an 8-bit videogame, and he gets sick of everyone hating him and treating him crappy. He gets wrapped up in the idea that if he can prove that he can be a hero in another game, and get a medal, that he can convince the folks in his game to respect him. He ends up going to Sugar Rush - a Mario-kart meets Candyland kind of game, and meeting Venellope, a little girl who is isolated in her game because she’s a glitch character - everyone treats her like crap. Two strangers help each other on a journey of self-discovery, etc. etc. and there’s lots of action, humor and ridiculousness along the way.
Although it’s called Wreck-It Ralph, Venellope really does hold equal role in the core of the movie and that’s something better than a lot of movies. There’s the briefest of Disney nods to the issues of classism and ableism, which I think is interesting, though of course, it’s all smoothed over by the end of the movie.
If you’re hoping to see LOTS of videogame characters in an AU (“Chun-Li in a shooter game”) you don’t get that - they’re cameos and most of the story takes place in non-existent videogames. That said, the game nods are EVERYWHERE, and my favorite is the fact that the characters from older videogames, though modeled like all the other characters, move in a sort of old-school way- they skip frames of movement, they only walk in 90 degree turns, etc. that’s kinda awesome.
As Halloween approaches, let’s take a moment to reflect on two of Blaxploitation cinema’s seminal horror films and the legendary actor William Marshall.
Written by Joan Torres & Raymond Koenig
Directed by William Crain
“You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a curse of suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell. I curse you with my name. You shall be… Blacula! ”
And thus Dracula has cursed African prince Mamuwalde into a life of eternal suffering. Mamuwalde awakens in 1972 finding a different world than when he last saw Count Dracula. He encounters interracial gay couples, glitzy night clubs, and sassy cab drivers. This new world does not bother him as he has but two objectives, bloodsucking and finding his lost love.
Tom / The Bad Bunch - US, 1973
- Character: Rue
- Fandom: The Hunger Games
- Reason for Being Hated: Fans didn’t realize until the movie was casted that she was black even though it was mentioned in the book twice. [SPOILER] This made her death “not as sad” because she wasn’t an “innocent blonde white girl.” [/SPOILER] Hunger Games Tweets has lots of links regarding this controversy.
Black Devil Doll - USA, 2007
In a time where Asian Americans are slowly making their way into pop culture with roles that don’t pigeonhole them–Lucy Liu in Elementary, Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project, John Cho in Go On–the role of Lilly takes Asian Americans a step back. All we see is a rehashed, played-out representation of the meek and submissive Asian woman. Asians as a whole are a feminized race, and yet Asian women bear the double burden of simultaneously existing to two groups that are both supposed to be submissive. We see the product of this double burden in Lilly, expected to be so docile as both an Asian and a woman that she can barely even speak.
An Asian actress could have played any of those other roles, but somehow the “quiet” trait–one of the biggest stereotypes about Asians–was the one assigned to Lee. In the same way that we hear jokes about Asian homelessness being a myth, a “Fat Lilly” or a hypersexualized Lilly would not have been seen as believable characters because these are traits not typically associated with Asians. But passivity? That’s something that Asians can always do. This was a conscious choice to make the character as easily understandable to the audience as possible, and drawing on racial stereotypes is one of the most efficient ways to do this.
The saddest part of all of this is that Lilly could have been a really badass character. Lee took beatboxing and scratching lessons with a DJ in preparation for her role, and yet we’re only given a two-second glimpse of her scratching in the ICCA finals (thought it was a pretty cool two seconds). But these possibilities are left behind in favor of boring, humorless “quiet Asian” jokes.
Maybe this wouldn’t have hit quite so hard if the only other Asian female were portrayed as a normal human being. Enter Kimmy Jin (Jinhee Joung), the Korean roommate of protagonist Becca (Anna Kendrick). If the Dragon Lady trope was watered down and embodied in an 18-year old college roommate-from-hell, it would take the form of Kimmy Jin. Though the movie only draws on the “cold and mean” aspects of the Dragon Lady, it draws on it pretty hard. Kimmy spends the majority of her screen time glowering at Becca, spurning any friendly advances she makes, and associating only with her brethren from the Korean Student Association.
Kimmy is initially so unrelentingly cold and silent towards Becca, that Becca even questions her ability to speak English. Hey Becca, here’s a thought: maybe Kimmy hates you because you assume she can’t speak English based on her race. Becca the protagonist also has a strange compulsion to refer to her roommate by her full name. It’s almost as though she’s afraid the viewers will forget Kimmy isn’t white if she just uses her first name. We get it–she’s Korean. You can just call her Kimmy.
Again we get a portrayal of an Asian who remains distant due to her lack of talking, who is not easily understood as a person and ultimately remains somewhat “mysterious.” What we end up walking away with from Pitch Perfect are two poor, highly limiting representations of Asian women in film. Asian women are either quiet to the point of having a speech pathology or, if they can talk, they are still cold and won’t say much to you. Either way, they are shown as being different, with that difference solidly rooted in their race."
ICYMI: Nisha H’s review of Pitch Perfect and how it plays the Asian American female characters on the R today! (via racialicious)
Al Leong is one sexy beast who towers over Hollywood!
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