Note to Hollywood: stop whitewashing

Linsey Sparks, Staff Writer

Anime is a product of Asia that is widely appreciated in America. Because of it’s popularity, it came as no surprise when Netflix announced they would be turning Death Note (one of the more well known animes) into a live action movie. But what did surprise viewers was the casting. Nat Wolff, a famous white actor, was cast as the lead role of Light Yagami. Light was originally a Japanese character with the last name Yagami, but when Wolff was cast for the role he became a white character with the last name Turner. The movie had been whitewashed.

Whitewashing is an unfortunate trend that Hollywood has decided to follow. It goes back a long time. For example, in the 1961 movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Mickey Rooney was cast as Mr. Yunioshi, an Asian man. Mr. Yunioshi is the only non-white character and is written as a stereotype. Rooney wore fake teeth and yellowface for the role when they could have just cast an actual Asian person to play the character. Although it was a different time, that is no excuse for it happening back then and no excuse for it continuing to happen today.

Only two years ago the movie “Pan” was released in theatres with a white Tiger Lily (a Native American character). In the 2015 film “Aloha” Emma Stone played a character said to be half Hawaiian and half Chinese. And lastly, the beloved classic “West Side Story”. Natalie Wood was a Russian and Ukrainian actor cast to play the Puerto Rican character Maria.

This trend needs to end. Whitewashing is extremely damaging to society. When characters of color are played by white actors and actresses, it not only makes a statement that says that actors of other races wouldn’t play the part as well, but it also takes away a role model and idol for children of other ethnicities. It limits the representation of other types of people.

I believe that Hollywood needs to start casting actors to match the character. If the character is Asian, cast an Asian actor. If the character is black, cast a black actor. It’s only common sense. Why would you cast someone that didn’t fit the role? Especially when it’s something like Death Note which is extremely popular and the character is obviously not white.

So, Hollywood… take note. Take action. Fix your mistakes. Whitewashing affects society and everyone who watches what you produce.

Whitewashed Movies

  • Hellboy (Ed Skrein)
  • Death Note (Nat Wolff)
  • Death Note (changing Light’s last name from Yagami to Turner)
  • Aloha (Allison Ng)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Mr. Yunioshi)
  • 21 (every character)
  • Pan (Tiger Lily)
  • West Side Story (Maria)
  • Cleopatra (Cleopatra)
  • Dragonball: Evolution (Goku)
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (Dastan)
  • Ghost in the Shell (Major Motoko Kusanagi)
  • The Mask of Fu Manchu (Dr. Fu Manchu)
  • The Conqueror (Genghis Khan)
  • Batman Begins (Ra’s al Ghul)
  • The Lone Ranger (Tonto)
  • Gods of Egypt (all characters)