Surprise: Hollywood is Still Whitewashing POC Characters

Happy Asian American Pacific Islander Month!

Good news! The story of the Ni’ihau Incident is coming to the big screen. Bad news? Hollywood has learned nothing from the whitewashing outrage that has been in the zeitgeist for the last year.

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AAPI Women are Awesome Action Figures

Originally published at NBC Asian America

I am an avid toy collector, and every few years I like to take stock of the number of action figures that feature Asian American and Pacific Islander characters. When I started doing this in 2009, it was difficult coming up with enough figures to fill out a Top Five list. Fortunately, it has become much easier to populate these lists since AAPI visibility in pop culture has dramatically increased in the intervening years. In fact, I actually had a difficult time winnowing down this year’s list since there are so many AAPI action figures from which to choose! Moreover, nearly every slot on the list is populated by female characters, which hopefully puts to rest the fallacy that girls don’t buy action figures.

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Which AAPI Actor Deserves the Nerd Grand Slam?

This week’s reveals from Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell are further proof that it’s hard out there for an Asian actor who wants to be in a genre film. Fortunately, there are a few AAPI actors who have claim to the coveted “Nerd Grand Slam;” that is, they’ve starred in a superhero franchise, a Star (Trek or Wars) vehicle, and an epic fantasy. But who is the nerdiest? Dominic Mah, from YOMYOMF.com, joins Keith to decide which actor is the One Nerd to rule them all.

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The CW’s Riverdale Brings Some Diversity to Archie’s World

Before The CW was known as comic book superhero central, the network — when it was still The WB — had the reputation for the place to be for melodramatic teen soaps. Remember shows like One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek7th Heaven, and Gilmore Girls? In 2001, the debut of Smallville led to the network’s embrace of comic book-based properties that paved the way for more genre-focused shows like Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The 100, and the current slate of DC Comics heroes. Next fall, The CW is merging the best of both worlds with Riverdale. By adapting the classic comic book Archie, the network will return to its teen soapy roots, this time with a twist. Even better? They’re doing so with one of the most diverse casts on network TV.

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Get Your First Look at Disney’s Moana

Even though the movie is more than a year away, we cannot contain our excitement for Moana, the newest addition to Disney’s iconic princesses. Set for a Thanksgiving 2016 release, the movie will star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the demigod Maui and 14-year old newcomer Auli’i Cravalho has been tapped to play the titular Princess Moana. That’s right, a Disney Princess movie about Hawaii starring actual Pacific Islander actors in the roles of Pacific Islander characters. And Emma Stone is nowhere to be found!

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James Wan to Direct Jason Momoa in Aquaman

Last night, Warner Brothers made waves across the geek-o-system by finally announcing a director for its solo Aquaman movie, due in theaters on July 27, 2018. James Wan — who took the wheel of the Fast and Furious franchise from Justin Lin and steered the franchise into record-breaking, billion dollar box office territory — has been tapped to helm the most intriguing film in the DC Cinematic Universe.

Starring Khal Drogo himself as the titular King of Atlantis, Aquaman is the rare blockbuster superhero movie that is unafraid to defy comic book convention and place a person of color at the center of its narrative. And now, DC/WB is the first studio to entrust a person of color to direct its superhero franchise. Your move, Marvel.

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These Actresses are Not Asian or Pacific Islanders

Depending on where you stake your claim on the internet, there has been a lot of chatter about a movie that tanked at the box office1 and another one that isn’t due in theaters for at least another year. The thing that links these seemingly disparate films is that both thought casting white women as characters who are written as Asian American and Pacific Islander was a good idea.

Last night, the director of one of those films — Cameron Crowe — finally broke his silence and offered this explanation for why he cast Emma Stone (Amazing Spider-Man) as a character called Allison Ng:

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Hollywood’s Strange Erasure of Asian Characters

Originally posted at Reappropriate

A mere week after I wrote a post swearing off of sharing fan news, the fandom insidiously pulled me back in.

This week, rumours began circulating that Tilda Swinton was in casting negotiations for Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange film starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the titular role. Swinton is being considered for the role of the Ancient One, a nearly-immortal Tibetan sorcerer who becomes the young Doctor Strange’s mystic tutor and personal mentor.

That’s right. Tilda Swinton — a British actor whose Wikipedia article notes that she can trace her Anglo-Scot heritage back to the Middle Ages and who is about as far from “Tibetan” as one might get — may be cast to play a racebent and genderbent version of one of the few Asian characters of prominence in the Mystic Marvel world.

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Aquaman Revealed: All Hail the King

Let me be as transparent as I can about my DC Cinematic Universe gripes.

Superman isn’t that interesting of a character. Peep the last two attempts. While it would be easy to hang the blame on Bryan Singer and Zack Snyder — these directors did not have too much to work with.

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Forget Aquaman, Jason Momoa Must be Shazam!

In the history of comic book superhero movies, having a casting announcement be met with near-universal praise by the fickle fanboy community is a very rare occurrence. In fact, I’m not sure it’s ever happened. From Keaton to Affleck, ScarJo to Gal Gadot, the nerd reflex is to cry foul — or at least raise a suspicious eyebrow — at Hollywood’s disrespect of comic book continuity. (And don’t even think about casting non-white actors in any of these roles). Nine times out of ten, though, fanboy condemnation — at casting, say, a “vapid pretty boy” like Chris Evans as Captain America or a “gay cowboy” like Heath Ledger as the Joker — gives way to reluctant acceptance and eventually hyperbole over how perfect these actors are in their respective roles.

A few weeks ago, though, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson finally revealed he will be playing Black Adam in a Shazam! movie, the internet reaction was entirely positive. It probably helped that this rumored casting had been gestating for nearly a decade. But while fans were celebrating The Rock as Black Adam, I had one question: who could possibly be (physically) big enough to play Shazam1?

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