20 Hollywood movies that whitewashed

20 Hollywood movies that whitewashed
20 Hollywood movies that whitewashed

In recent weeks there have been several controversies surrounding the casting of non-Caucasian performers for roles that are considered traditionally white.. The premieres of ‘The House of the Dragon’ and ‘The Rings of Power’ and the first teaser of the real-action remake of ‘The Little Mermaid’, where the black singer Halle Bailey plays Ariel, have caused complaints on social networks. One of the arguments being raised is that Hollywood should tell original stories starring people of color, instead of re-ethnicing classically white characters.

The thing is, Hollywood has been telling stories featuring people of color for years, many years. But on numerous occasions, the actor or actress who played those characters was white. This is called “whitewashing” or “bleaching”, and it is a practice that producers, directors and casting directors have done without thinking twice for a long time.. And that without going into the already eradicated “blackface” (Laurence Olivier did it in ‘Othello’), or its Asian equivalent, “yellowface”, with two infamous examples in the roles of Mickey Rooney in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and Katharine Hepburn in ‘Dragon Line’.

Among the reasons that have been used to justify whitewashing are institutional racism and the preference for established white stars to add commercial appeal to projects. “Part of it is that people choose people they feel comfortable with, and if someone has a similar background as you, you feel more comfortable with them”explained psychologist Jeffery Mio in a BBC report on the subject.

As for the argument about the profitability of white stars, critics use names like Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Jackie Chan or Salma Hayek to single out non-Caucasian stars. Of course, There are more white stars than colored ones, but it is the whiting that bites its tail: as black, Asian or Latino performers were not given opportunities, they did not become successful. In recent years, precisely coinciding with a greater awareness of racial issues, new stars of color have emerged, such as Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Gemma Chan or Awkwafina.

Before going on to list some of the most notorious cases of whitewashing, a reflection: is this practice comparable to colorblind casting or non-traditional casting? The latter, used in cases such as ‘The Little Mermaid’, was born to create more diverse, multicultural and egalitarian industries in theater and audiovisual. That is, to remedy an unfair situation in which performers of color had far fewer opportunities than white performers. Although steps are being taken in the right direction, statistics show that people of color remain underrepresented in mainstream Hollywood cinema.: In 2021, only 32 of the 100 highest-grossing films starred or co-starred a person of color, a group that represents 40% of the US population. Of those 100 films, only 11 starred or co-starred a woman of color.

The article is in Spanish

Tags: Hollywood movies whitewashed

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