We are – or should I say we remain? - in a time of seemingly limitless whitewashing by Hollywood. It is a terrible time to be an American actor of color - particularly an Asian American. Frankly, there’s never really been a good time from as far back as the white actors playing Chinese characters in "The Good Earth" to Mickey Rooney’s cringe-inducing portrayal of an Asian man in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to last year’s casting of Emma Stone to play a Chinese Hawaiian character in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha (really?) to this year’s casting by Disney and Marvel of Tilda Swinton to play a Tibetan character in Dr. Strange and let's not leave out Dreamworks and Paramount casting Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese character, complete with CGI effects to make the very white Scarlett look more “Asian.” #YellowFace!
Last year, as the population of Asian Americans increased, our representation on TV and in film decreased - the only racial group this was reported as happening to. Lest you think this is because Americans are so racist, they can't bear to see people of color on screen, study after study shows that, actually, diversely cast shows make far more money than homogenous shows. In an article in the New York Times a few months ago, one journalist put it quite succinctly, saying, “Economics has nothing to do with racist casting policies. Films in which the leads have been whitewashed have all failed mightily at the box office. Inserting white leads had no demonstrable effect on [increasing] the numbers. So why is that still conventional thinking in Hollywood? For years, audiences have essentially boycotted these films, yet studios keep making them.” Why? #Racism!
So, we look around and we see our peers having discussions and panels and focus groups and complaining and crying or we see them groveling at the feet of Racist Hollywood, saying “Thank you Massah! Thank You! Thank you for one line role of Vietnamese manicurist #789." "You want me to do an 'Asian' accent? Sure, no problem." Yeah, it's no problem because there's no such thing as an "Asian accent" so I can just make one up. #RacistHollywood
I, for one, am sick of all the talk. I'm sick of all the crying and complaining. And I am really sick of the groveling, and that’s why I’m here. That’s why the Film Lab is here. We create and produce our own content. We encourage our members to create and produce their own content. Content that is bold. Content that is innovative. Content that is - wait for it - diverse. Through the 72 Hour Shootout and with our incredible sponsors, we provide our filmmakers with platforms on which to exhibit and disseminate that content to a wide range of audiences. Not just one homogenous ethnic group. All audiences. By making these films, you empower yourselves and, by extension, all of us. And by "us," I don't just mean Asian Americans. I mean Latinos. I mean African Americans. I mean Native Americans. I mean LGBT. I mean women. I mean all of us. #ActionUnites
As US women’s national soccer player Alex Morgan – who, coincidentally, is part of a wage discrimination lawsuit, just demanding equal pay for equal work – said “It’s all about learning to create your own success.” That's what the Shootout filmmakers are doing because they know that if they wait for some handout from Racist Hollywood, they'll be waiting an awfully, awfully long time. #RacistHollywood take 2.
You know the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them” right? Well, the economics show we can beat them. The changing face of the entertainment media landscape shows we can beat them. And the rise of diverse America - certain presidential candidates notwithstanding - shows we will beat them. So, fuck Racist Hollywood. #FuckRacistHollywood
We will make our own content and we will support other diverse content. And we will not support content from Hollywood in which Asian American and other diverse faces, characters and stories are whitewashed out of existence. #YellowFace take 2.
One person told me recently, “Well, I don’t want to offend anyone by pointing out the whitewashing too much.” Offend them? What about the offense you when Racist Hollywood erases your face? Your story? Your voice? So, go on. You guys are here. That means you have the balls. You have the passion, the power and the talent. #Balls
This year, don’t just beat them at their own game. Eviscerate them. Leave them, as it were, in a cloud of your cinematic dust. Good luck to all of you! #CloudOfCinematicDust
NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/23/opinion/why-wont-hollywood-cast-asian-actors.html?_r=0
Alex Morgan is one of five players who brought a wage discrimination complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation, as reported by Health Magazine (June 2016).