The issue of whitewashing in Hollywood has been a long and controversial one for the film industry. Whitewashing isn't one single thing either. There's a part of the issue that argues for the representing of a population equally on film. There's the issue of casting white actors in a role originally written for people of non-white races, effectively rewriting the role to get someone white in it. And then there's the issue of casting of white actors to play non-Caucasian characters and simply dressing them up in makeup or prosthetics—one of the most offensive traditions still kicking around.
Since it's only been in the last few decades that whitewashing has really come under fire, there are countless films from the 60s (and before) that used white actors for almost every role. Because of that tradition in Hollywood, this list will put a much greater emphasis on films made more recently. These issues are better understood today, and there are plenty of qualified actors of all the different races to fill the required positions, so there are no more excuses—despite what some filmmakers might suggest.
Whether this is a casting issue or a studio financing issue, it is an existing issue, and there's the rub. So many times we see a character and think, why is Tom Cruise playing a samurai? Or, why do all foreign people sound British? It's a sad commentary on the current state of the industry as a whole that this list has any modern examples, let alone a dozen. The whitewashing issues that were left off of this list are enough to make you sick, and they weren't even bad enough to make a top 15 list. Any example of whitewashing is ugly, and here are 15 of the most controversial cases of Hollywood whitewashing.
15 Mr. Yunioshi, Breakfast at Tiffany's
14 Asians, Cloud Atlas
13 Khan, Star Trek Into Darkness
12 Everyone, Exodus: Gods and Kings
11 Genghis Khan, The Conqueror
10 Goku, Dragonball Evolution
9 Othello, Othello (1965)
8 Divya Narendra, The Social Network
7 Chante Mallard, Stuck
6 Minister, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
5 Aang, Katara and Sokka, The Last Airbender
4 Dastan and Friends, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
3 Tiger Lily, Pan
2 Everyone, Gods of Egypt
1 Ben Jabituya, Short Circuit
This whitewashing really gathered some steam from Aziz Ansari's Master of None when he talks about Indians on TV. For many, the character of Ben Jabituya in Short Circuit was just an Indian guy playing an Indian character, but we were mistaken; that was actually Fisher Stevens, a Jewish actor from Chicago. Instead of casting an actual Indian actor for the role, they cast a virtual unknown in Stevens, put him in brownface, give him an Indian accent and let him run with it. Was his performance so convincing that it fooled everyone or was it just a case of disinterest because of the time the movie was made? Whatever the answer, it makes me feel a little dirty that I never recognized this case of whitewashing until Ansari pointed it out to me. Well, he didn't point it out directly to me, but you know what I mean.
Sources: Wikipedia; IMDB; Rotten Tomatoes
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