Asian-Americans rejoiced at the news, a victory against Hollywood’s standard M.O. of Whitewashing Asian characters to make them more palatable for White audiences. And while there’s no word on who will play Daimio yet, the firm behind “Hellboy”, Lionsgate, promised that they “will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”
The conversation surrounding the casting decision did not end there; as it was a part of a larger discussion on Whitewashing, there has been a lot of research done on the topic that came forth, seemingly more relevant with the “Hellboy” news. This became evident when Paste Magazine wrote a piece on Whitewashing, bias, and just how devastating the effects Hollywood’s casting choices have had on stereotypes and society.
“I work with a lot of different people, and Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they’re not very expressive,” one other casting director told Yuen. “They’re very shut down in their emotions … If it’s a look thing for business where they come in they’re at a computer or if they’re like a scientist or something like that, they’ll do that; but if it’s something were they really have to act and get some kind of performance out of, it’s a challenge.”
Naturally, this caused fury within the Twittersphere — one Twitter user, Maurene Goo (@mauxbot), decided to take matters into her own hands with one very direct expression:
Hollywood aside, the ramifications behind stereotyping Asians as expressionless have been used in far more sinister contexts; saying that Asians weren’t expressive was actually a method used to dehumanize them during World War II.
Fun fact: An ambitious CA Attorney General used this exact stereotype to stoke xenophobic fears after Pearl Harbor, furthering his career. https://t.co/g3URK7h3rr
This was done in an effort to ensure that Americans (see: Whites) viewed the Japanese as enemies, and this sentiment carried on throughout the Korean and Vietnam wars. By that time, the stereotype had firmly taken root, and its effects can clearly be seen in modern society — one manner being the casting choices Hollywood makes to this day.
Although the battle to end Whitewashing and promote Asians in media is a long and arduous one, Hollywood appears to finally be listening. Skrein stepping down from the role of Ben Daimio has left Hollywood without any excuse to cast an actor of Asian descent as the major; now, with the #ExpressiveAsians hashtag, perhaps casting directors will see just how expressive Asians truly are and give them the roles they were meant to play.
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