This week on Anime Talk I want to discuss a topic I briefly touched upon in the comments of a previous Anime Talk talking about the live action Ghost in the Shell Movie that Dreamworks is putting together. That topic would be the White-Washing of Asian character in the Hollywood adaptations of the works in which the characters have originally appeared. For those not familiar with the term, white-washing is the practice of casting the white actor or actress for a role of a character that is of a different race in the source material in this case Asians.
Now personally I never really saw this as an issue and can only think of two instances of this happening The Aforementioned Ghost in the Shell movie and the DragonBallZ live action movie. My personal experience side I am certain you all can point out additional examples of this practice and surely will in the comments below. The reason I bring this up now is due to learning about an online petition that is currently being circulated asking Dreamworks to reconsider casting Scarlet Johansson and instead recast the role with an Asian actress which you can find HERE.
The whole arguments for and against white-washing can be summed up as follows. People believe that Asian actors/actresses are not getting enough mainstream exposure thus making it impossible to build a name for themselves, while the studios believe that these actor/actresses do not have the drawing power needed to star in these movies thus fearing a lack of success if they are cast in these starring roles. I never considered this issue before but I can empathize with issue.
You see I view this along the same lines as the job market here in the USA. I have a job that I have been work at for years, but it is only seasonal work so I end up unemployed 4 - 5 months out of the year. Every year I look for a new job on my "off season" and I see all these jobs advertised but most of them have the requirement of 3-5 yrs experience needed to get the job. I see this and the White-washing issues in the same light. To get experience in the Job you need to perform the job, however if they will not hiring you without the experience how are you suppose to gain it ?
So how do you expect an Asian actor to gain name value when only cast in bit roles ? and what better way to build a name value for an actor/actress then to cast them in a role that already has a huge fan following that expects to see that role filled by someone of the particular race ? Well those are my thoughts on this issue, please share with us your thoughts in the comments below.