In case you hadn’t heard the news already, there’s a movie in the works about the Ni’ihau Incident set for 2018.
The Ni’ihau Incident occurred on December 7th – 13th, 1941, wherein Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilot Shigenori Nishikaichi crash-landed his Zero fighter on the Hawaiian island of Niʻihau after participating in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The incident culminated in Nishikaichi’s death by Ni’ihauans Benehakaka “Ben” Kanahele and Kealoha “Ella” Kanahele, with Ben Kanahele becoming wounded in the process. Ben Kanahele was decorated as a hero for his efforts in stopping Nishikachi, and Hawaiians are told of his heroics to this day.
So when Hawaiians learned that their beloved hero would be portrayed by Zach McGowan, a White man, many saw this as another case of whitewashing and were angered by it. Protesters voiced their concerns on social media, disagreeing with the casting decision and calling for a person of AAPI descent to play the lead role.
It would seem that their voices reached the McGowans, as McGowan’s brother, Matt McGowan, took to social media to perhaps justify the casting decision.
Netizens were not amused by the sentiments.
But it really came to a head when Matt McGowan posted an article where Daniel Wu discussed the whitewashing controversy surrounding “Iron Fist”.
Netizens challenged this tweet, as many recognized the article to have been about Wu’s thoughts on “Iron Fist”.
And… well, it gets interesting.
Yes, Matt McGowan asked a random Twitter user to ask five AAPI actors why they aren’t playing the lead in “Ni’ihau”. Others noticed.
Netizens continued to point out “Ni’ihau’s” flaws.
To which McGowan responded:
(Side note – the irony was not lost on Netizens with this one).
But the conversation continued until it ended amicably on both sides.
Wow, that was a roller coaster.
And to finish it off, Daniel Wu himself weighed in on the original tweet:
Will Matt McGowan pass on the message? Will Zach McGowan relinquish his role as the lead of “Ni’ihau”? Will the producers cast people of AAPI descent in the movie?
Will Whitewashing ever end?
Stay tuned, and apparently check Matt McGowan’s twitter often because that there was a roller coaster.