Allegation of Black actor being removed from ‘Dune’ movie poster for China is disproven

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Different variations of the “Dune” poster have ignited a controversy surrounding Chinese audiences and media portrayals.

The initial claims: Earlier reports claimed that Black actor Sharon Duncan-Brewster was removed from the poster of “Dune” in China and replaced with Taiwanese actor Chang Chen; but the conversation grew more complicated as this was proven to be mostly untrue.

  • The controversy began when photos surfaced which showed Taiwanese actor Chang Chen in the spot of Black actor Sharon Duncan-Brewster on promotional posters for the movie in China.
  • This controversy drew comparisons to an earlier, verified incident in which Black actor John Boyega’s image was shrunken for the promotional poster for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in China.


The rebuttal: However, social media users quickly pointed out that multiple versions of the posters were circulating in China, complicating the initial narrative.

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  • Although one version of the promotional posters does show Chen and not Duncan-Brewster, this promotional poster was not developed for Chinese audiences but was used previously in Western countries as well.
  • Photos on social media demonstrate that both versions of the poster are being circulated in China, just as they had been in Western countries.

The controversy plays into a larger conversation about Chinese audiences and media and questions about anti-Black racism in East Asia.

Featured Image via Douban (left), @wbpictures (right)

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