In a time where old franchises are dug up from the grave, we now have Blade Runner 2049: the latest movie we never asked for but then Alcon Productions fought for the rights for 12 years and here we are. Because after all, there’s always money in nostalgia.
Rogue One is also a movie that features three men of Asian descent — two East Asian and one South Asian — and, far from relying on stereotypes of “Asian Masculinity,” in fact subverts those stereotypes in a way that feels revolutionary for Western media. (Needless to say: spoilers.)
Over the past weekend, The Hollywood Reporter released an article about the heightened alert placed on ethnic casting. The article starts off with the controversial choice to cast Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily in the upcoming Warner Brothers picture Pan, which will be a re-imagined take on Peter Pan lore. Throughout the article, unnamed producers and studio execs justify their casting decisions with the “tried and true” reasoning that it’s always the best actor being cast for the job, regardless of race, even if that means casting white people to play non-white folks. Ideally, I would be in full support of this idea as I think it really should be about choosing the best actor for the job, regardless of race and nationality. Ideally, casting should be “colorblind” because as actors, we are trained to bring a character to life as far removed from us as possible.
And that’s as far as I can go. No really, that’s it. This is where that dreamy ideal world I’d like to be in is instantly crushed by the not-so-sugary reality that “choosing the best actor for the job” and all that hippy dippy freedom-of-the-arts talk is usually reserved only for the status quo. Or in blunt politically incorrect terms: white people.
Join us tomorrow, April 13, at 9:00 PST for the live-tweeting of the second episode of Game of Thrones: hashtag #GOTNOC. I’m up to bat this time, though I usually recap The Legend of Korra, I hope I don’t slip and accidentally call Daenerys Targaryen a Firebender. I align Chaotic Good, and therefore am House Targaryen all the way. I’m also a hardcore Brienne-Jaime ‘shipper, but that’s a discussion for another day.
To whet your appetite, I list six reasons why I imagine Dany, Mother of Dragons, just might be Asian… or at least she should be.
It’s an age-old question: does popular culture reflect mainstream perceptions, or is the mainstream influenced by the images it sees in popular culture? Jeff Yang, of Secret Identities and the Wall Street Journal, examines this question in the exhibit, Marvels & Monsters, now showing at the Japanese American National Museum.