Category Archives: Colour-Face

#AStrangeWhitewashing Continues with New Images from Upcoming Ghost in the Shell & Dr. Strange

April 18, 2016
scarjo-ghost-in-the-shell
Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming “Ghost in the Shell” film adaptation.

I know I’m about a week late on this news, but I’ve got something really important to say: ScarJo, you look absolutely ridiculous in yellowface.

When the news first broke that Scarlett Johansson had been inexplicably cast in Paramount’s film adaptation of blockbuster anime/manga series Ghost in the Shell, I wrote a scathing post declaring that ScarJo is #NotMyMotoko. Last week, that debate was rekindled when studios released a teaser image of Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi. I think we can all agree: sporting a black wig styled into an asymmetric bob, Johansson looks unbelievably absurd in the role of a Japanese cyborg woman who has long stood as an icon of Asian and Asian American feminism, queer identity, and gender fluidity.

Continue Reading

Upcoming “Absolutely Fabulous” Film Will Feature Actor in Yellowface

December 18, 2015
Janette Tough, in yellowface costume as Japanese fashion designer Huki Muki in the upcoming "Absolutely Fabulous" film. (Photo credit: Twitter)
Janette Tough, in yellowface costume as Japanese fashion designer Huki Muki in the upcoming “Absolutely Fabulous” film. (Photo credit: Twitter)

The British 1990’s sitcom “Absolutely Fabulous”  is slated to return in 2016 after a 20 year run on British television that ended in 2012. Cast members will reunite in a feature length film, which will include show stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley reprising their roles as drug-abusing PR agent, Edina Monsoon, and magazine editor, Patsy Stone.

Fans of “AbFab” have long anticipated the reunion film, which was rumoured to be planned as early as 2011. However, the film is now making headlines for a not-so-fabulous reason: the movie will apparently feature an actor in yellowface.

In the film, comedian Janette Tough (aka Janette Krankie), who is well-known to Scottish audiences for her 40-year portrayal of her schoolboy character, Jimmy Krankie, will don a black wig and wing-tipped sunglasses to portray male Japanese fashion designer, Huki Muki.

Tough is neither Japanese, nor is she Asian.

Continue Reading

It’s Time to Reinvent “The Mikado” Without the Racism

September 18, 2015
Promotional image of "The Mikado" from an earlier performance by NYGASP.
Promotional image of “The Mikado” from an earlier performance by NYGASP.

Having learned nothing apparently from last year’s “Mikado” fiasco in Seattle,  the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players (NYGASP)a more than 30-year-old professional repertory company devoted to staging performances of Gilbert & Sullivan works — announced this year that “The Mikado” would be included in their 2015-2016 season. Written in 1885, “The Mikado”‘s opening run was one of the longest of its time, and is considered one of the most popular works in the Gilbert & Sullivan repertoire. “The Mikado” is also highly offensive: intended to satirize British politics, the play is set in an Orientalist fantasy of Japan, and is typically staged by White actors in costumes and makeup designed to make them appear Asian; or, more colloquially, in “yellowface“.

The NYGASP’s show is no exception: judging by images from its 2010 and 2013 performances (see featured image above), NYGASP’s performance is replete with non-Asian actors donning black wigs, kimonos, and face paint.  This year, NYGASP’s version of “The Mikado”  is scheduled to appear at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at NYU December 26-January 2.

Continue Reading

Hollywood’s “Strange” Erasure of Asian Characters | #AStrangeWhitewashing

May 29, 2015
Marvel's Ancient One
Marvel’s Ancient One

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 Dr. 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 Dr. 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.

Continue Reading

Mindy Kaling’s Brother Donned Blackface for 2 years in Twisted, Racist “Experiment”

April 4, 2015

vijay-chokalingam

(H/T M. Holt)

Did y’all know Mindy Kaling had a brother?

Yeah, neither did I. Turns out that the star of the hit comedy The Mindy Project has an older brother named Vijay. A quick Google search of his name reveals little: on the internet, he exists entirely in the form of short quotes (one to Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, the other to Parade, another to the New York Times) about how awesome his sister is. He is also listed as a surviving child in his mother’s obituary. On a fansite for The Office, Vijay trawled for threads about his sister and shamelessly name-dropped that he was related to her (Update: link no longer active). On Twitter, he has a scant 230 followers (at the time of this publication) despite having been on the microblogging site for four years as a self-described “anti-affirmative action hacktivist” (#tcot?). In his Twitter bio, he tells us that the most pertinent detail about his life is that he’s related to Mindy Kaling.

Yet, Chokalingam is making news today in super-Rightwing news media outlets: in early March, Chokalingam released details of a book pitch documenting his efforts to gain admission into medical school by donning Blackface fifteen years ago.

Yes, you read that right: Mindy Kaling’s brother says he wore Blackface for more than two years while applying to and attending medical school.

What. The. Fuck.

Continue Reading