First I would be remiss not to say: Happy Lunar New Year (AKA Chinese New Year, since evidently some people don’t know that countries other than China celebrate it). I hope you all have a prosperous Year of the Rat.
A few posts ago I talked about Heavenly Kingdom, which is a long-awaited collaboration featuring Jet Li and Jackie Chan… and randomly has a white dude as the main character. Of course, I’m not at all surprised that there’s now this upcoming movie, 21.
The basic premise of the movie is simple – it’s based on the true story of a handful of MIT computer/math students who analyzed the casino odds, came up with ways to predict when face cards would be coming up, and basically took a bunch of casinos for millions of dollars. They even wrote a book about it called Bringing Down the House, and now it’s being made into the movie.
So what’s the big deal?
Well, the majority of these students were Asians. Blah blah blah insert stereotyping about how well duh, math and computer students at MIT are almost by definition Asian. But now take a look at the movie poster. Or the movie trailer. Huh, that’s funny… the main characters are now white. There’s still some Asians left, but they’re just window dressing. It’s not like they wanted to make a role for a blockbuster actor like Brad Pitt or anything, either – I’ve never heard of this Jim Strugess dude. No, it’s pretty much clear that the only reason this whitewash was done is that Hollywood still thinks it’s unpalatable to have a movie where the leading men are Asian. Asian Week noted that there would be much more outcry if it were the true story of a black guy that was changed to a white guy in the film adaptation; I guess just like I noted previously about politics, Asians don’t complain enough and thus just get run over by the Hollywood machine.
There’s also the upcoming Speed Racer adaptation from the Wachowski brothers which of course changes the entire Racer family to whites, but that’s more forgivable considering that when the anime was brought over to the US in the first place they changed all the names. Few people know that Speed Racer’s original name was the very Japanese Mifune Gou. I still don’t understand why there are random ninjas throwing around shuriken in the new Speed Racer trailer, though. I hope it’s not just because the Wachowski brothers think “hey, kids love ninjas as much as they love kung fu, let’s just toss some in there!”