Whitewashing often takes roles from minorities


Annie Ricotta

Minorities begin losing lead roles to white actors

Summer movie season is coming around and many movie’s coming out are continuing a trend that has been in movies since the beginning of the American film industry.

Many movies are continuing the trend of hiring white actors in place of any actors that are actually whatever race they are portraying. This takes away more prominent and profitable acting jobs from people who are completely capable but just aren’t white.

This is seen in so many modern movies: For example many anime/cartoon to movie adaptations suffer this fate; movie’s like Ghost in the Shell (2017), The Last Airbender (2010), or Dragonball: Evolution (2009). However that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Do you agree that Hollywood is whitewashing?

View Results

Many movies that aren’t even adaptations suffer the same or similar fate. While it may not be the same but, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of the same “copy & paste” movie story where there are people of color who are losing some war or facing some other kind of problem and then, BAM some charismatic white guy comes along and teaches them how to fight, or do some other task and that’s the movie.

For example, I may have just described the plot of The Last Samurai (2003) or Avatar (2009) (to an extent). Movie’s like that perpetuate white supremacy by making the idea that anybody of another race can’t be great or our world’s problems can’t be solved without the white man’s help. This is such a common theme in movies that it has a name: the “white savior narrative.”

Movies that have this narrative are a really common thing. But, until recently, we very rarely have gotten the inverse; where a character of color is the main hero and saves the day.

Many movies now a days work very hard to have diverse cast. In Moana (2016), every primary human character is voice acted by Pacific Islanders. Series known for whitewashing in the past like even Star Wars, which had a history of having a mostly only white cast, now is taking every opportunity for more diversity, with one of the main characters being black.

While this increase in diversity can be seen a lot in Disney there may only be few examples outside. The first that came to my mind was Power Rangers (2017) which has an extremely diverse cast, including Ludi Lin who is Chinese (and also plays an openly autistic character and the representation is amazing), and Becky G, who is Mexican. However, there are many other diverse characters.

It’s great to see movie’s with such a diverse cast now a days, but we are also still getting brand new movies and shows like Death Note (2017), which took an entire cast of Japanese characters and hired white actors to play them and even changed characters’ names to sound more white.

Diversity is no indication on its own that a movie will be good. But the power of the film industry can be used for good when diversity is incorporated into its movies.