Reblogged from nootau
"Hollywood Whitewashing" is a term given by race studies people to the Hollywood practice of handing ethnic roles to white people. Instead of following the money, conclusions are drawn about how Hollywood movies project an image of white supremacy.
25 Minority Characters That Hollywood Whitewashed is a good example of the sort of internet article you can expect on this. It’s almost a textbook case of cherry-picking, which would be fair enough were it not for the impassioned conclusions drawn from the one-sided exercise.
The truth, as ever, is that Hollywood will disregard race and follow the money. Consider the following casting choices in various massive movies:
- Jeffrey Wright played “Felix Leiter” in Quantum of Solace.
- Michael Clarke Duncan played “Kingpin” in Daredevil.
- Samuel L. Jackson played “Nick Fury” in The Avengers.
- Morgan Freeman played “Red” in The Shawshank Redemption.
- Will Smith played “Robert Neville” in I Am Legend.
- Billy Dee Williams played “Harvey Dent” in Tim Burton's Batman.
- Mos Def played “Ford Prefect” in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
- Laurence Fishburne played “Perry White” in 2013’s Superman.
Each of these roles was clearly a white person in the source material, and each of these movies was a blockbuster hit. Any current theory of Hollywood Whitewashing would have to take account of these examples, only some of many, before it could be considered.
If whitewashing was a real problem, not only would all of the previous casting decisions be unthinkable, but they would generate a ton of hate press. What does it mean for the whitewashing hypothesis if there is mainstream unquestioned acceptance for black people playing obviously white roles?
You’ve got a real false equivalency problem here. For every black actor that plays an originally white role, you’ll probably have ten roles that have been whitewashed.
That might be true, but only if you dig very far into the history of cinema. Almost everyone in the world reacts with horror at Mickey Rourke’s racist turn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. More contemporary movies were chosen for that reason.
Nobody says racebending doesn’t happen and therefore whitewashing isn’t an issue. Whitewashing is still an issue because it is racist.
It might be, but any grand theory of whitewashing has to take account of the fact that the reverse happens, all the time, in blockbuster movies. Or it’s not describing reality, it’s describing a victim complex.
Whitewashing is a real problem and a few instances of racebending doesn’t suddenly negate all the whitewashing that has and continues to be done. And you obviously don’t look very hard because then you’d know how much shit non-white actors get when they play characters that were originally white.
Is it anything like the shit white actors get when they play characters that were originally non-white? Because if it’s about the same, then… you see the point, right?
Also, you’re characterising this as “a few instances of racebending” without any giving any reason why anyone should believe that to be true.