Ghost in the Shell And The Continuation Of Whitewashing In Hollywood

So, today the trailer for the Ghost in the Shell Live  Action movie trailer dropped, along with an introduction from Scarlet Johannson herself.

You can check it out here.

Throughout the trailer, about the only thought I had on my mind was that they still had a white woman in the lead roll of the majour, who is a Japanese woman who works for Section 6, a kind of top tier police force that answers to the Japanese government.

Sadly, this whitewashing of Asian characters is nothing new, and is a sad, long tradition in Hollywood that shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.

Heck, merely typing whitewashing movies into Google brings you the following result, and numerous links about the many, MANY examples of whitewashing in Hollywood.

However, here are a few examples, and of ones wherein white actors were cast in the role of Asian characters:

Justin Chatwin as Goku in Dragonball Evolution.

Emma Stone as Captain Allison Ng in Aloha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Dr. Strange.

The leading cast of 21, based of a true account of 6 Asian MIT students who beat Las Vegas at their own game, making off with millions.

Elizabeth Banks Rita Repulsa in the new Power Rangers Movie.

And now, recently, Scarlet Johannson as the Majour in Ghost in the Shell.

It’s frustrating and tiring to see diversity brushed aside for various reasons, despite the fact that many of the films who whitewash their leading characters more often than not become huge, box office failures. Despite disasters such as the box office receipts for *Aloha (Domestic total gross of 21 million with a production cost of  37 million) and The Last Airbender (domestic total gross of 131 million with a production cost of 151 million), Hollywood seems bound and determined to stick by its reasons for casting white actors in the roles of Asian characters.

However, one point about the casting choice of Ghost in The Shell I wish to talk about is the support of it from Kodansha, the manga publishing company that released Ghost in the Shell way back in 1989.

This does not absolve Paramount Pictures of its racist whitewashing, and the reason why is context.

See, in Japan, there are all kinds of roles for actresses and actors in all matters of entertainment, be it video games, anime, movies, and dramas. There is almost literally no lack of roles for them, and as such, a white woman playing a Japanese character is something unique and interesting over there.

However, in the West, it’s yet another example of whitewashing.

Context is also the reason why Yellow Rangers in the various Sentai shows over 30 years is not racist in Japan. Over there, it’s simply another primary colour among many for the brightly coloured teams that have entertained children for years.

Here in the West, yellow has racial connotations that sprang up from Yellow Peril, a 19th century colonial theory about how East Asians are a threat to the Western world. A browsing of yellow peril on google’s image link shows off where the caricature of the Asian man with the fu manchu mustache, exaggerated slanted eyes, and yellow skin came from.

As such, when Thuy Trang was cast as Trini the Yellow Ranger in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, it was most definitely racially insensitive.

What also concerns me is that a success by Ghost in the Shell could be seen as having a silver lining, that an action movie with a female lead can succeed, and to that I say No.

Stop it.

Progress does not come by having a white woman stand on the back of women of colour. That is what one calls White Feminism, and between this and ScarJo’s other film, Lucy, which features a white woman in peril from evil Asian men, I’ve pretty much lost all enthusiasm for a Black Widow movie.

This casting choice was a mistake, one that continues to be repeated time and time again, and I fear that the only lesson to be learned from it if the movie fails is that women can’t lead action films, not that one shouldn’t whitewash roles.

*Figures taken from boxofficemojo.com.

 

 

Introducing the new Doctor Who Companion… BILL!

Hey everyone, in this video I talk about my excitement over the new companion of Doctor Who, Bill, as well as a bit of speculation  over WHEN she might come from, who else they might meet…

… and my fears over how white fangirls will bring the hate, because we’ve seen that happen time and time again, haven’t we?

Not Your Asian Sidekick, Hollywood

With the release of the first image of Scarlet Johannson from Ghost in the Shell and the teaser trailer of Dr Strange, it’s time to take a look at just what these two are doing to continue the Hollywood tradition of cultural appropriation and whitewashing of Asian roles.

From The Angry Asian Man blog, comes the image of ScarJo from Ghost in the Shell, which recently started filming.

Oh look! Six other Japanese actresses Hollywood could have picked from instead of whitewashing the Majour.

And a great article on The Hollywood reporter summarizing a number of responses to the white washing, yellow face, and cultural appropriation in both Dr Strange and Ghost in the Shell.

Solidarity Is For Straight White People Only

Hello everyone, it’s another video, this time going into the bad writing surrounding Nicole Beharie leaving Sleepy Hollow as well as the death of Lexa in The 100.

I would also highly recommend people read this article by Head Over Feels, which goes further into depth about Nicole leaving Sleepy Hollow, and the death of her character, Abbie Mills.

“What is there for me in a world without you?” The sad implosion of Sleepy Hollow.

There’s also this article by Nichole Perkins as to why Sleepy Hollow lost the good faith from fans.

Why Sleepy Hollow Just Lost Any Faith its Fans had in it.

And this tumblr post as to the situation with Arden Cho will shed more light on her situation.

Overall, it feels like a bad time for diversity in television as of late, and I don’t think it’s going to change until all levels of production have a level of diversity where straight, white people are in the minority.

Awesome Black Geeks!

Hey everyone! Seeing as how it’s Black History Month in the US, I figured I’d share some wonderful black geeks who celebrate and discuss geek culture.

They are podcasters, bloggers, and cosplayers, and they are passionate, thoughtful, and some of the most wonderful people whose content I’ve had the honour of reading, listening to, and consuming.

And in one or two cases, meeting.

First off, we have Black Girl Nerds, which features not only a myriad of awesome articles by its founders, and a number of guest posters, but a podcast and some cool merchandise!

You can find them on twitter as well at @BlackGirlNerds, which is where I found them and have been following them for some time.

The writing on the articles are wonderful, informative, and have changed my opinion on media I’d previously consumed. One example of this was the article by Mel Perez of Women Write About Comics called:

Mental Health & The Strong Black Women Trope

It was a poignant, personal look at the deconstruction of the strong, black woman trope as done through Sasha of The Walking Dead and how she deals with terrible losses in a very cruel world.

Remember the podcast I mentioned earlier? Well, they’ve got one, and for their latest episode, they had on a wonderful lineup of guests, starting with actress Rachel True, who I know best from The Craft, the originator of the twitter hashtag #Oscarssowhite, April Reign, and actor Stefan Kapicic, who stars as Colossus in the new movie from Fox, Deadpool!

So give it a listen here!

Next up, we have I Need Diverse Games, which started off as a twitter tag #INeedDiverseGames by @cypheroftyr because she was sick of not seeing herself in games, and instead saw lots of scruffy white guys.

@cypheroftyr also hosts a podcast called Fresh Out Of Tokens and has interviewed many a member of the game making community in her discussion of race, gender, and sexuality alongside her co-host, David L Reeves. He’s an editor, by the way, and a good one at that, so maybe hire him to look at your upcoming book!

And since we’re talking about games, lets talk about another game-centric podcast called Spawn On Me, hosted by those with the most, Cicero Holmes, Kahlief Adams, and Shareef Jackson! Broadcasting out of their homebase in Brookago, these three discuss issues of racism within a gaming industry that remains, to this to day, very white.

Not only have they interviewed a number of interesting guests, such as Tauriq Moosa and Livio De La Diamond, who wrote about how white The Witcher 3 is and how few people sided with Gamergate, but they’ve also hosted gaming events to raise money for people, such as the family of Eric Garner, killed by police for selling cigarettes.

It’s a funny, poignant, and thoughtful podcast, and one of my favourite episodes has to be Episode 38, The Great Debate, in which the intrepid trio discuss their favourite consoles and just why you should buy them.

I also mentioned cosplayers at the start of this post, and three of my favourites are easily Brichibi Cosplays, Maki Roll’s Chop Shop, and Jay Justice!

Not only are all three beautiful, awesome, and amazing cosplayers who make their own outfits, but they’re all wonderfully talented!

Maki is a burlesque dancer, Brichibi makes her own woodburnings that range from coasters to plaques, and Jay Justice is an LGBTQ and disability advocate as well as an actress.

Now, if you want to check out some more amazing black cosplayers, check out the twitter hashtag #29DaysOfBlackCosplay! The depth of skill and passon shown here is just breath taking and amazing, and shows that geekdom is not solely the domain of white people, despite what the gatekeepers and death eaters might tell you.

And while you’re on twitter, check out the group @WeAreWakanda which promotes and celebrates a number of amazing artists drawing black characters from all over geekdom. They also look at representation in comics, television, and movies.

Then, you should go to their website and buy some of their merchandise. After all, everyone’s got to eat and pay the bills.

Overall though, this is but a taste of the many, talented black geeks out there. Just about everyone I talked about is a gateway to many others who are content creators, who discuss how pop culture explores racism and sexism, or becomes lost in it, and who celebrate and uplift not only other black geeks, but other geeks of colour as well.

In short, for those who ask “How do I learn more?” you have only to google these people and others to start learning. Like, share, and support them with your money not only during Black History Month, the shortest month of the year, but throughout the year as well.

 

Brain Food – Episode 41

Hello everyone, thank you for coming to watch yet another episode of Brain Food, wherein I review Shea Godfrey’s Nightshade.

It’s a wonderfully written LGBTQ fantasy romance… when it’s not painting the Middle Eastern themed kingdom of Lyoness in a shallow, racist manner throughout the book, and reminding us at every turn how ignorant, sexist, and backwards it is.

Brain Food At The Movies – Episode 9

Hello everyone and welcome to another night with Netflix, a.k.a. Brain Food At The Movies.

This time, I take a look at The Wolverine, the latest in 20th Century Fox’s attempts to keep a hold of the X-Men franchise.

It’s not as bad as The Amazing Spider-Emo, but still…

Also, in light of just how gun-totting they made the Yakuza in this movie, I’d highly recommend reading this article, A Land Without Guns. It’s very enlightening.

Brain Food At The Movies – Episode 7

Hello everyone and welcome to the newest episode of Brain Food At The Movies! I hope that you all enjoy it!

Just… bloody hell, people… if you can have more diversity in your movie about a giant, radioactive mutant than a movie about some stupid little magic ring and dwarves and elves, something’s wrong.