In Los Angeles, they say everything is possible. Dreams come true in the City of Angels. However, there is a much darker side to the world’s largest entertainment industry. Beyond the big screen and the flashing cameras, Asian discrimination is rampant.
Even though it is never directly stated, everything is taken into consideration when choosing a cast. Unfortunately, ethnicity is one of these things. In the 2015 film Aloha, for example, actress Emma Stone was chosen to portray a half Chinese character. In other words, she was the "whitest Asian" Hollywood could find. Critics say this “culturally insensitive casting” likely caused the poor performance.
Another more recent example of Asian discrimination occurred in the 2017 film, Ghost in the Shell, which is based off of the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga. White actress Scarlett Johansson was cast to play the role of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a part-human-part-cyborg hybrid. Numerous Asian-American actresses have since spoken out about the whitewashing of this incident, including Constance Wu and Ming-Na Wen.
Historically, “yellow face,” or the portrayal of Asians by non-Asians in Hollywood, has also been prevalent. In the iconic 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, white actor Mickey Rooney portrayed a Japanese man by pulling his eyes back with tape and speaking in an offensive, exaggerated accent.
Asian representation simply isn’t prominent enough in Hollywood. There are rarely any cases in which Asians have been cast as leads in blockbuster movies. They are usually sidekicks, unattractive nerds, or exotic girls thrown in to meet a “diversity quota.” Hollywood needs to recognize that there are hundreds of skilled Asian-American actors and actresses who are just as talented as their Caucasian counterparts. It is imperative that Asians are properly represented in Western culture in order to deliver an accurate representation of the diversity in America.
Authors: Carina Sun and Claire Cao
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