Chow Yun Fat, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee … Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Ice Cube, Will Smith … Jennifer Lopez, Andy Garcia, Javier Bardem, Antonio Banderas… Sorry, Hollywood’s whitewashing problem is not on America.
For decades, across all racial lines, the American public has embraced actors of all racial stripes, helped to make them rich and popular, and enjoyed their work in every medium, from movies to television to music. On two occasions, we even elected a black man with the middle name “Hussein” president.
Why then, if we the customers have proven time and again to be perfectly colorblind, is oh-so progressive Hollywood, an institution run by hardcore leftists for 50 years, in yet another racial bind, this time involving the issue of whitewashing, or the casting of white actors in roles originated by minorities?
Here we sit in the Year Of Our Lord 2017, and Hollywood is panicking over the fact that they might now be forced to cast minorities in roles meant for minorities:
British actor Ed Skrein’s Aug. 28 decision to quit Lionsgate and Millennium’s Hellboy reboot — after criticism for being a white actor playing a character who is Japanese-American in the comics — has many in the industry wondering whether the unprecedented move is a tipping point for Hollywood’s practice of “whitewashing” roles.
Some see Skrein, 34, as caving to pressure from a social media-fueled mob of PC police. “No one knows where the line is,” says a studio publicity head, “and every movie now is controversial for any reason.” In addition, there are concerns that an overcorrective backlash against whitewashing will cause filmmakers to decide against making movies about diverse characters altogether.
Wait, it gets worse…
Already, Sony’s adaptation of Michael Lewis’ 2014 best-seller Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt is effectively dead because it no longer would be the default to cast real-life protagonist Bradley Katsuyama with a white actor. “A decade ago they would have just done that,” Lewis said Sept. 2 at the National Book Festival. “There were emails back and forth about how impossible it was to make a movie with an Asian lead.”
Now, before I go any further, I want to be clear about a couple of things…
I’m not siding with the Social Justice Warriors in demanding racial conformity when it comes to every piece of casting. And that goes both ways. Idris Elba would make a terrific James Bond. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is of Welsh, Irish and English descent, was perfect as the sexy, volatile, (Hispanic) Elena Montero in both of those Zorro films.
Moreover, I am a movie fan desperate to see some different faces up on the screen. For example, over the weekend I watched the latest season of the Netflix series Narcos, which is filled with dozens of charismatic, talented Hispanic actors and actresses, especially the lead actor, Pedro Pascal, who not only looks like a young Burt Reynolds, but pops off the screen with the same masculine charms. But these are mostly new faces to me thanks to an industry addicted to white, male, bland metrosexuals who almost all look alike.
Can we please, please, please move on from white metrosexuals who all look alike?
My overall point, however, is this…
Why is Hollywood so damned racist?
How can an industry that relentlessly preens and poses as the vanguard of progressivism, an industry that constantly lectures the rest of us on racial matters, be in a bind where they have not groomed enough minority actors into stars — where they do not have a solid farm team of non-white actors to step in and take these roles?
Imagine a major motion picture being canceled because this oh-so leftwing industry has not bothered to hire enough Asian actors to make a big enough star out of even one of them so that a Flash Boys can be produced.
We are fifty freakin’ years past the Civil Rights movement, past the era of Sidney Poitier; we are decades into American audiences making superstars out of minority performers (Oprah, Cosby, Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez), but Hollywood has still done next to nothing to create a reliable stable of non-white actors.
If that is not systemic racism, what is?