Doctor Strange

Marvel’s decision to cast Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange was always bound to attract controversy. The character is an Asian man in the comics, so putting a white woman in the role led to complaints about whitewashing. But the Doctor Strange team is standing by its choice. Last week Swinton went on record insisting that there were “very good reasons” for the change, and now Doctor Strange screenwriter C. Robert Cargill and Marvel Studios have weighed in as well.  Read More »

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doctor strange whitewashing

Tilda Swinton is an ethereal being who has temporarily taken on our form so she can grace us with her presence and quietly exude psychic waves that hint at the true nature of the cosmos, so it’s a bit of a shame that she’s currently at the center of a very human controversy. She plays the mystical mentor to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme in Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange, a character known as the Ancient One…a character who was originally depicted as an Asian man in his 1963 comic book debut. As you’d expect, the arrival of the trailer two weeks ago sparked a controversy over the whitewashing of this character and now, Swinton herself has responded to it.

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Ghost in the Shell

Earlier this year Chris Rock caused a minor kerfuffle at the Oscars when he took the stage to take on Hollywood’s mistreatment of black people… only to crack jokes at the expense of Asian people. The tasteless jokes underlined what I think many Asians and Asian-Americans have long suspected: that the push for more “diversity” and “inclusion” in Hollywood does not extend to us. That to them, we aren’t worthy of respect or consideration or even common courtesy.

Last week, two major projects further drove that point home. On Tuesday night, Marvel dropped the first trailer for Doctor Strange, rich in Orientalist undertones and featuring a white woman (Tilda Swinton) as a racebent version of an Asian character. Then on Thursday, Paramount and DreamWorks unveiled the first official still from the anime adaptation Ghost in the Shell, starring another white woman (Scarlett Johansson) as a character named “Motoko Kusanagi” in the source material. Whitewashing is a tradition as old as Hollywood itself. Still, you’d think that after the Oscars misstep, and the Emma Stone in Aloha dustup, and the The Last Airbender and Exodus: Gods and Kings and Pan and Gods of Egypt controversies, Hollywood would have learned its lesson. Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell suggest that they most certainly have not.  Read More »

Wachowski Sisters

The duo formerly known as the Wachowski brothers, the creators and directors of The Matrix trilogy and the sorely underrated Speed Racer, previously became known as the Wachowski siblings when Lana Wachowski came out as a transgender woman in 2012. Now they will be known as the Wachowski sisters, as Lilly Wachowski, formerly called Andy Wachowski, has also come out as transgender.

After the jump, you can read a full statement from Wachowski about coming out as transgender, which includes a frustrating explanation as to why she was forced to come out this week. Read More »

Oscars Asians

Lost amidst all the stories about how Chris Rock ripped into the Academy last night is how poorly people of other races were treated who weren’t black or white. I think it was about two hours into last night’s broadcast when the first mention of Asians or Hispanics even happened: during a remote video segment from a man-on-the-street interview Rock conducted in front of a theater.

“This should not just white. It should be Asian, Hispanic. There’s so much talent out there of all races,” the man says, while holding an Oscar statue and delivering a mock acceptance speech.

I wish the rest of the presenters and producers had taken this message to heart.
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gods of egypt director

Gods of Egypt opened this past weekend to turgid reviews and worse box office, making only $14 million against a reported budget of $140 million (before marketing costs, of course). The film is a Jupiter Ascending-sized flop, and like that film, it’s actually easy to see why it failed to perform: it’s really, really weird. Whether that weirdness works or not is the question, and that answer can only arrive with time. But right now, regular film fans and critics alike have rejected the film.

And now, director Alex Proyas has let his displeasure be known to the masses, unleashing a brutal tirade against film critics. It’s the kind of thing that’s going to promote knee-jerk reactions of all kinds, but the issue at hand here is a bit more nuanced than that.

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Gods of Egypt Super Bowl Spot

The 88th Oscars don’t take place for another several days, but we can already say with absolute certainty that all four winners in the acting categories will be white — because for the second year in a row, only white actors were nominated. #OscarsSoWhite has been the defining controversy of this year’s awards season, sparking uncomfortable and long overdue conversations about who wins these awards, and why, and what should be done about it.

But #OscarsSoWhite is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Hollywood’s race problem. There’s also the fact that roles for people of color are all too rare to begin with. And then even when they do exist, they often wind up getting filled by white actors. In last night’s episode of Last Week TonightJohn Oliver and his team took on Hollywood whitewashing, asking, “How is this still a thing?” Watch the John Oliver Hollywood whitewashing segment after the jump.  Read More »

Oscars logo

The response to this year’s all-white Oscar nominations was loud and angry and it didn’t die down quickly. Soon, Honorary Oscar recipient Spike Lee was boycotting the ceremony. Will Smith also announced that he would not be attending while current nominee Mark Ruffalo made his displeasure known. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs issued a statement about the situation (which was dubbed #OscarsSoWhite online) and movie fans and industry insiders alike wondered if anything would actually change.

And now they have. In a new letter sent to Academy members, new policy has been implemented that will change the makeup of the Oscar voting body, with a goal of doubling “diverse” members by 2020. You can read the new Oscar rules below.

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will smith oscars boycott

If you read about movies on the internet, you’re surely familiar with the recent controversy surrounding this year’s Academy Awards nominations. But here’s the short version: for the second year in a row, every single acting nominee and four of the five directing nominees were white. This lack of representation, a symptom of an industry that is still dominated by white men, was the finally straw for many actors, filmmakers, writers, and movie fans. With the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag as their rallying cry, this group of concerned citizens set out to raise awareness and question why the biggest awards show on the planet was snubbing people of color.

And now, two new major names have joined the cause. Will Smith says he’ll be skipping the ceremony altogether and Mark Ruffalo, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Spotlight, may follow suit.

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