coloring books project — 01/05/15 — no more whitewashing

courtesy wikipedia
courtesy wikipedia

Friends — today on Facebook I saw some terrible news. There is going to be a live-action remake of the Japanese manga-turned film Ghost in the Shell. And there will be no Asian actors in it. The lead role is going to be played by Scarlett Johanson.

Alot of readers complained when Jennifer Lawrence got the part of Katniss in The Hunger Games. I didn’t know the novels yet, but when I read them, it was clear to me from the prose that Katniss is meant to be a person of color — which makes complete sense given that this trilogy is set in the future and given how racial demographics and identities in the US are already shifting.

In other news, there is a concert planned in NYC at the Public Theater for a performance of The Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler’s brilliant dystopian novel. But no movie. No tv show. Parable takes place in Los Angeles, and most of the characters in it are clearly, self-identifiedly, and vocally people of color. So…. is that why there’s no tv show yet?

Speaking of Octavia where is the tv miniseries based on her award-winning novel Kindred? Apparently an opera based on the novel is in the works. I love opera, but those tickets cost a fortune, and opera doesn’t have the reach of tv.

This is crazy. I love Ghost in the Shell. It has inspired my fiction and my poetry. I love it so much that it grieves me to see its aesthetic and culture and identity distorted, erased. Major Motoko Kusanagi deserves to look like who she is.

I’m beginning to agree with folks who say we need to stop buying these whitewashed products.

What do you think?



2 thoughts on “coloring books project — 01/05/15 — no more whitewashing

  1. I’d like to say that the issues here are complicated, that the stories are universal and that race and ethnicity doesn’t matter. But I can’t.

    Ridley Scott defended his all-white cast for “Exodus: Gods and Kings” as follows: “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such. I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.” The statement is an out-and-out lie, as his failure went beyond the lead actor and extended to the entire cast. When people blame these decisions on money, it’s clear the blame belongs elsewhere.

    1. Thanks for bringing up Exodus Larry. I think your point that the question about having Middle Eastern and African actors enact a story ABOUT THEM doesn’t even come up is really important. So, that’s what I guess I’m trying to do in this series of blog posts: ask the question at least. It’s not much, but I have to start somewhere! Thanks again.

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