Thursday, June 23, 2016

Quoran Answer Transplant: What do you think of Asians playing different Asians?

 What do you think of Disney casting a Korean woman to play Mulan in the upcoming Live-Action Mulan movie?

Question details: To be honest, I'm a little annoyed that they did that. I have nothing against Korean people; I just wanted a Chinese woman to play Mulan. Maybe I'm just making a big deal out of it because I'm Chinese myself…

No offense to you, dear Asker, but while you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and of course your involuntary emotional reaction, I must caution you that the viewpoint you have taken has consequences that may be farther reaching than you realize.
To answer your question: What do I think?
“At least she’s Asian. (Was that so fucking hard?)”
Sorry to disappoint all the misguided do-gooders and false-flag bearers but as an East Asian man I do not have a problem with an East Asian actor/actress playing an East Asian character, regardless of particular country of origin.
At what point do people conveniently forget that we’re talking about race here? Since when do people start caring about nationality?
Oh, sorry, wait, now that you mention it there was that time when a big deal was made out of making sure only a genuine white person of Russian descent played a Russian char- no, wait, that didn’t happen.

  • Joseph Fiennes playing Commisar Danilov, real nationality = English
  • Jude Law playing Vasily Zatysev, real nationality = English
Bonus round:
  • Joseph Fiennes, ancestry = mixed English, Irish, Scottish (that’s just about quintessential generic White)
  • Jude Law, ancestry = English
White actors/actresses routinely play white characters of any ethnic or national background simply by tacking on an accent. This never seems to invite parallel commentary as opposed to when Asians do it amongst themselves.
I present Exhibits A through Infinity to substantiate my claims.

  • Daniel Olbrychski playing Oleg Vasilyevich Orlov in Salt [2010], real nationality = Polish

  • Kevin Durand playing Vasiliy Fet in The Strain [2014-present], real nationality = Canadian

  • Andrew Lincoln playing Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead [2010-present], real nationality = English

  • John Malkovich playing Pascal Edward Sauvage in Johnny English [2003], real nationality = American
and sometimes Italians, so on and so forth.
No fake controversy crops up when those roles are filled, though. But check this out:

  • Tilda Swinton slated to play the Ancient One in the upcoming Dr. Strange [2016]*, real nationality = English
*Slated to be a Celtic character, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Let me make sure you know that I know and I know that you know that this is not Tilda Swinton playing yellow-face and pretending to be an Asian mystic monk. That would’ve been very bad, that would have been so totally 20th century, and fortunately that’s out of fashion these days. Whitewashing is on a whole ‘nother level now, I tell you. Instead of having a white person playing an Asian character they have actually streamlined the process and eliminated the “Asian” part of the equation all together! Isn’t that fantastic? Now they simply turn the Asian character into a white character and then cast a white person to play said character! That ain’t racist, right? Boom, problem solved, eh?
The Ancient One is originally a Tibetan man but the screenplay writer of the upcoming Dr. Strange movie, C. Robert Cargill, had this to say about his casting choices for the role:
“If you are telling me you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind.”
“He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people.”
Both statements stem from ignorance of the issues at hand and stink of rationalization.
So this is what happens when people suddenly want to worry about making sure the “wrong” Asians don’t end up playing certain Asian roles? Exclude Asians completely? Great plan, we appreciate that sooooo much. I really have to commend them for being able to find such a novel excuse to make it even harder for Asian actors/actresses to get serious work. Pretend that your hands are tied because you are trying to go the diplomatic route, eh?
Before you think I’ve gone off on a non-sequitur, what does all that have to do with your question? I’m saying I’m grateful, dagnabbit, I’m FUCKING GRATEFUL that they haven’t yet decided to just say “Fuck everything”, and make the entire film about a white girl named Melanie who falls through a wormhole back in time to Han Dynasty China and gets taken in by a Chinese family, and from there…, etc. etc.