By Guest Contributor: Christopher M. Lapinig
Are you all about the #StarringJohnCho posters, the Photoshop phenomenon that reimagines posters for recent Hollywood blockbusters with actor John Cho in their leading-man roles? Then you should be equally as excited about supporting race-conscious affirmative action in college admissions, too.
By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)
I was slightly jet lagged on my commute home Monday night. So, at first, I thought the stream of tweets invading my timeline buzzing about Leonardo DiCaprio possibly playing the beloved Sufi poet Rumi were part of some sort of elaborate joke. After all, Hollywood must be paying at least a little bit of attention to the 2016 Oscars controversy and online campaigns like #whitewashedOUT and #AAIronFist, right? RIGHT?
The Guardian reports that screenwriter David Franzoni (who also worked on the Oscar-winning film Gladiator) has signed on to work on a new biopic based on the life of the 13th century Persian poet. Franzoni says he hopes the film will challenge anti-Muslim stereotypes… by casting non-Muslims to play the film’s primary roles.
Let’s pause for a second here, and give everyone a moment to get their heads up off their desks, which is where I’m sure they are after reading that last sentence.
This week, the Twittersphere became embroiled in discourse (through #whitewashedOUT) over mainstream Hollywood’s Whitewashing of several traditionally Asian and Asian American characters — including the casting of Emma Stone as Allison Ng in Cameron Crowe’s Aloha, Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi in the upcoming Ghost in the Shell live-action adaptation, and Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in Marvel’s Dr. Strange. While discourse is important to activate and engage the community, I’ve long felt that our community must do more: we disentangle ourselves from considering only popular culture media, and throw more of our support towards independent AAPI actors and filmmakers.
Along these lines, KQED — a public access radio and television station servicing Northern California — has put together a playlist of student films for 2016’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. The films were originally aired as part of the station’s Film School Shorts, a half-hour program which showcases student film projects. Assembled as a Film School Shorts APAHM2016 playlist, the collection highlights eleven fantastic short films by student filmmakers who span the AAPI diaspora. Included in the lineup are shorts like the Student Academy Award-winning Above the Sea, as well as and Pagpag (The Refuse), directed by John Paul Su, who was named the Director Guild of America’s Best Asian-American Filmmaker for his work on the short. My personal favourites are the quirky So You’ve Grown Attached by Kate Tsang, and the adorable heart-warming animated short Steadfast Stanley.
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.
Guest Contributor: Larissa Lam (@larissalam)
For weeks we have endured endless chatter about #OscarsSoWhite and how to better increase diversity in Hollywood. Now that the awards season has officially ended and the Academy Awards have been handed out, I can finally give my two cents about this.
I watched the Oscars knowing that the acting categories were going to be swept by white actors – after all, only white actors had been nominated. Yet, I could tell that the producers of the show, one of whom was Reginald Hudlin, a black film producer and former BET president, were trying to at least showcase diversity among the chosen presenters. I was happy to see Priyanka Chopra, Lee Byung-Hun and Olivia Munn presenting awards. Diversity was on display in some categories: Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Inarritu won Best Director for The Revenant, Indian-British director Asif Kapadia won for the documentary Amy, Chileans, Gabriel Osorio Vargas and Pato Escala Peirart, won for Best Animated Short, and Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy won for Best Documentary Short.
Ok, so the Oscars were not completely white. But, they came pretty close to being so, and that’s because Hollywood is, itself, exclusionary.