Hollywood: e”race”ing the color

By Estefany Pena-Cornejo

Staff Writer

Imagine walking into the movie theater and never seeing anyone who looks like you up on the screen. Hollywood directors seem to believe their leads must be white in order for their movies to be successful. There is a small percentage of people of color acting in movies. And even when the movie is about people of color, those characters get cast as white people. 

“There’s no role models for people who aren’t white if the people you see on the screen are white,” freshman Evelyn Toscano said.

As an example, not only was “Gods of Egypt” a tragically-bad movie, but it also lacks diversity. Do you know where Egypt is? It’s in Africa. Obviously, this director failed social studies as he clearly does not realize that Egypt is in Africa. But somehow all is forgiven because he cast one black person in a movie set in Africa.

“Why is this being told by white people when it should be told by the natives of that land?” freshman Gabi Diaz said.

In another example, the award-winning movie “Spotlight,” Mark Ruffalo plays Michael Rezendes, a reporter for The Boston Globe. But Rezendes is a Hispanic man, and Ruffalo is white.

“It also doesn’t make sense to me as to why the role could have been played by the correct race,” sophomore Ashley Jackson said.

“The effect of whitewashing is that it could make people of color angered, upset, and confused because their race isn’t being accurately portrayed or even shown in the movies,” Jackson said.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is yet another iconic movie. The director cast Mickey Rooney, a white man, as I.Y Yunioshi, an obviously Asian man. In 1961, The New York Times called Mickey Rooney’s performance “bucktoothed, myopic Japanese is broadly exotic.” Since when is imitating someone’s race in a stereotypical way “exotic?”

Another example of whitewashing is Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in “Ghost in the Shell.” Motoko Kusanagi is the main character in a popular manga called “Ghost in the Shell.” Motoko is a cyborg; therefore some people justified casting a white woman in the role because cyborgs have no race.However, the manga is set in Japan, her name is Japanese and the character is Asian.

When you change the race of a character you, change the meaning of the movie.

In yet another example, Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as Marvel’s superhero Doctor Strange. Although the superhero is from the middle east, the director decided to go another way with Cumberbatch, who is not middle eastern. This wasn’t the only character in the movie that was changed; Strange’s mentor, the Ancient One, was also a middle eastern man. In the movie, Tilda Swinton — a white woman — was cast as the Ancient One.

Hollywood is washing the color out of their movies.  Even after all these years, Hollywood still hasn’t learned its lesson.

Whitewashing movies “limits people into this space where they don’t think that they matter,” Toscano said.


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