tv directors diversity

While Hollywood may still be trailing behind when it comes to gender equality, a new study from the Directors Guild of America has found that the pool of first-time episodic TV directors “is more inclusive than ever.” Both women and minorities have seen major gains in the past few years, and for the second year in a row, have set record highs for diversity in the TV directing industry.

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crazy rich asians stereotypes

Crazy. Rich. Asians. Every adjective in the title of Crazy Rich Asians sounds loaded at best, distasteful at worst. When trailers for Jon Chu’s movie started hitting the web, cries of racism inevitably began to surface. Why did it have to be Asians? Doesn’t that generalize an entire population of people? And does this mean that they’re crazy? Or crazy rich? What about poor Asians?

Asian-led projects are so rare in Hollywood that it becomes unavoidable that every movie, TV show, or media property will undergo intense scrutiny for how well it represents a minority group that makes up 5.6% of the U.S. population. Sure, every now and then a blockbuster will feature an Asian character (cue grumbles that it’s to appease the growing Chinese movie market), but they rarely appear as more than a supporting character or gasp, a token.

So immediately, Crazy Rich Asians is in a lot of hot water. While its protagonist is an Asian-American NYU professor, it mostly centers on the privileged Singaporean elite whose wealth and jet-setting lifestyle couldn’t feasibly represent every single Asian and Asian-American. And it doesn’t help that its tawdry title immediately calls to mind the abundance of stereotypes associated with Asians. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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apu controversy

The problem with Apu doesn’t seem like it will be solved any time soon. The Simpsons, which just hit a record-breaking 636 episodes, has been criticized for the Indian stereotypes pushed by its long-running character Apu, the Kwik-E-Mart owner voiced by Hank Azaria. And while the Fox sitcom dismissed the Apu controversy in a recent episode — igniting even more controversy — some people are willing to do something about it.

Castlevania producer Adi Shankar challenged writers to “fix” Apu, starting a contest to rewrite the character without mocking Indian stereotypes. But just as Shankar took us in a step in the right direction, The Simpsons creator Matt Groening took us one step back, doubling down on the show’s polarizing response.

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hank azaria apu

The problem with Apu has reached a fever pitch ever since The Simpsons decided to clumsily brush off criticisms of the character’s Indian stereotypes. But the voice actor behind Apu, Hank Azaria, has a much more dignified response to the controversy.

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live-action aladdin extras

So much for having a completely diverse cast.

The new Aladdin movie has caused a stir once again, and yes, it’s still related to race. Disney’s live-action remake of the 1992 animated classic has come under fire for “browning up” its white extras to look more Middle Eastern. This comes after director Guy Ritchie initially struggled to find actors of Middle Eastern or Arab descent to play its lead roles of Aladdin and Jasmine, and Billy Magnussen’s casting as a Nordic prince prompted criticism. And it seems that even in the midst of production, Aladdin‘s problems with race have not stopped.

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Ed Skrein in The Transporter Refueled

In a possibly unprecedented win against whitewashing, Ed Skrein has stepped down from playing Major Ben Daimio in the Neil Marshall-helmed reboot of Hellboy.

The Japanese-American character had become a source of controversy when Skrein, a white British actor, was cast in the role last week. Criticisms of whitewashing mounted against the casting until finally Skrein announced on Monday that he has decided to leave the project.

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ali wong and randall park romantic comedy

Asian-Americans aren’t necessarily well-represented in Hollywood. In fact, you could say they’re pretty poorly represented, with few lead roles written for Asian actors, while plenty of those originally Asian roles are given to white actors in a little phenomenon called “whitewashing.” There’s a whole stigma around Asian men being believable romantic leads due to centuries of media and pop culture emasculating them, but that’s a whole conversation I’ll get to later.

But everything’s coming up, Millhouse. First, we had The Big Sick and Master of None showcasing South Asian men in complex lead roles, romantic and otherwise. Soon, we’ll be getting Crazy Rich Asians, a rom-com which boasts an all-Asian cast. And now, Netflix is gifting us with another Asian-American-led rom-com starring the always hilarious Ali Wong and Randall Park.

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Hollywood adaptations of asian movies

A lot was riding on the success of Ghost in the Shell. The upcoming wave of anime adaptations such as Death Note and Akira, Paramount Pictures’ chance for a new sci-fi franchise led by Scarlett Johansson, and the chance to stymie the steadily-growing outcry against whitewashing.

But when Ghost in the Shell limped into theaters last weekend, bringing in a meager $20 million domestically on a $110 million budget, that may have spelled the end for Hollywood adaptations of anime classics. But this is not the first time Hollywood has tried and failed to remake a critically and financially successful film based on an Asian property — nor will it be the last time. The question I’m interested in answering is whether or not these Hollywood adaptations of Asian movies actually make money. Let’s look at the numbers. 

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Marvel diversity

Marvel Comics has been praised recently for its uptick in diverse characters, the executives are now blaming diversity for the downturn in comic book sales.

The Marvel Retailers Summit was intended as a meeting between Marvel executives and retailers, but when Marvel allowed website ICv2 to report on the summit, it spawned a surge of outrageous headlines about Marvel’s business practices, including the inner circle’s real thoughts on the push for diversity.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Netflix Iron Fist Lewis Tan Finn Jones

(Welcome to The Soapbox, the space where we get loud, feisty, and opinionated about something that makes us very happy…or fills us with indescribable rage. In this edition: why Marvel’s Iron Fist really blew it by not casting Lewis Tan in the lead role.)

Could Iron Fist have been received better if it had cast an Asian-American as Danny Rand?

Until now, that was a pipe dream for many critics of the latest Marvel Netflix show, who lambasted the series for perpetuating the myth of the white savior by choosing to stay loyal to the comic-book depiction of Rand: as a white, blonde outsider who can punch things with his magic fist. But it was recently revealed that half-Chinese actor Lewis Tan, who played one-off villain Zhou Cheng in episode eight of Iron Fist, was on hold for the part until they ultimately cast Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones.

Let me take a deep breath. I have a lot to say about this.

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