Hollywood has been criticized for whitewashing for years now, but has this stopped them from doing it? The simple answer is no. You will constantly see foreign characters or even foreign-born Americans constantly being portrayed as strictly obvious white characters. What is their defense? According to Jenny Han, author of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” “One producer said to me, as long as the actress captures the spirit of the character, age and race don’t matter. I said, well, her spirit is Asian-American. That was the end of that.” Early on in the production of the movie, she was pressured to whitewash the cast of her novel for this film adaptation. Unlike most movies, Han refused to allow it to happen.
In general, it doesn’t matter how many times the public demands a change from the Hollywood executives, it simply is not going to happen unless the insiders push for it. However, that is not to say that Hollywood hasn’t conquered whitewashing in some instances. Take “Crazy Rich Asians and, as stated before, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” “Crazy Rich Asians’ was the first film with an all Asian cast. It was also nominated for major awards, such as two Golden Globes and one Screen Actors Guild Awards, just to name a few. This film also broke box office records for romantic comedies in a single weekend. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was one of Netflix’s biggest anticipated films last year – ranking in at eight out of ten for Netflix’s biggest films of 2018.
Doesn’t this prove to Hollywood that foreign actors are just as good as white actors?
So why does Hollywood continue to whitewash, despite some of the biggest films last year containing nonwhite actors as the leads?
The highest grossing movie in the box office this year was “Black Panther,” estimated to have earned over 700 million dollars throughout its 25-week theater run. In its opening week alone, it grossed roughly 200 million dollars.
Yet, viewers constantly see executives continue to make decisions to recast or cut out foreign races’ roles. It’s a bit tiring, don’t you think?
Clearly, 2018 proved that movies without a majority white cast or lead can still produce good quality work that breaks records. Not only does casting Asians as Asians and South Americans as South Americans and Africans as Africans attract the minorities even more to the theaters, but it also indicates to the growing youth that being you is not wrong.
On top of that, white people are not going to stop going to the movies just because there is a decrease in white characters, especially as the tide continues changing and supporting minorities. Hollywood is missing out on some amazing actors and actresses by whitewashing, and honestly, it’s time to change.
Representation is important. And come on, can you really imagine an all-white cast in “Crazy Rich Asians”? It wouldn’t make sense, and neither does whitewashing.