Last year I wrote about the whitewashing of Avatar: The Last Airbender. You would think with the controversy around the film and it ultimately being a box-office bust, Hollywood would have gained a little insight about the implications of ethnic miscasting. But here we go again. Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures are set to produce a live action adaptation of Japanese graphic novel Akira. The popular Japanese series by Katsuhiro Otomo is set in a post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo. With Japanese characters such as Tetsuo and Kaneda, this series is a reflection of Otomo’s commentary on Japanese culture, history and politics.
According to indieWIRE, the Hollywood movie adaptation will be set in Neo-Mahattan with white leading actors playing Japanese characters. Names being circulated for the role of Tetsuo are Robert Pattison, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy. For Kaneda, possibilities are Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix. Maybe they will cast some of the female characters with Asian American actresses, but highly sexualized I’m sure.
According to a survey done last year by Racebending.com, only two percent of Warner Bros movies from 2000 to 2009 had an Asian lead, and most being Asian nationals, not Asian Americans. And 90 percent of the films had a white lead. On the flip, 40 percent of movie tickets are sold to people to color. So what will it take to see more actors of color showcased in Hollywood movies if we are the ones buying the movie tickets?
First start with standing up against the whitewashing of yet another movie.