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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Cinema in Noir: "Asian Films are Still Being Whitewashed"

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Godzilla

On "Cinema in Noir" we talk a lot about whitewashing, but usually in terms of black characters or black films that were re-imagined as white films or being played by white actors. But we rarely discuss how some of the most iconic Asian and Asian American films (i.e. Godzilla and Oldboy) have been whitewashed to appeal to American audiences. In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we discussed this in one of our segments on today's show.

I have a number of problems with that, including the fact that the U.S. does not consist solely of white Americans so to think that American films must have mainly to all white casts really disregards, like every other racial representation that makes up this "melting pot" we call America. But, don't get me wrong, the commercials for Godzilla (in theaters May 16th) look excellent and I can only hope that the film is just as good since I do still want to see it. I just think it's very interesting that a concept that was so deeply rooted in the Japanese culture has been made over so many times that at its present version its origins are completely ignored.

Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow

The same goes for Edge of Tomorrow, based on Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka's science fiction novel, All You Need is Kill, which lead character is also Japanese. In the movie, in theaters June 6th, Tom Cruise is the lead with Emily Blunt. Again, I love both these actors, but it would have been nice to see Asian actors take on this anticipated movie. As time goes on, Asian and Asian American actors are continuing to be pushed further and further outside the margins of cinema. This is not okay.

Star Wars VII new blood

Another controversial topic we discussed on today's show was the new Star Wars VII cast. Now, I'm not going to pretend that I care much about the movie (I've never seen the original film, nor its subsequent films), but it deserves to be noted that twitter was in an uproar over the fact that Lupita Nyong'o (who was previously in talks to join the cast) did not make the final cut. Another problem for some was the fact that there are no women of color in the cast and there aren't enough women in the film at all. Just in case you're unfamiliar, the cast reads as follows: Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Max Von Sydow, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew.

I have to say, I'm loving that Boyega and Isaac are in the cast. Star Wars fans out there, what do you think?

To listen to a full discussion on these two topics, as well as our film news and reviews of Belle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, listen to an encore presentation of today's podcast here.

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