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Asian-American Actors Take On Hollywood

May 27, 2016
Plain English Version
George Takei is famous for his role in 'Star Trek.' He is a leading voice for Asian-American roles in films and TV programs.

George Takei is famous for his role in ‘Star Trek.’ He is a leading voice for Asian-American playing roles in films and TV programs.

Should white actors play non-white roles? They often do. Asian-American actors have started to speak out. They call the practice “whitewashing.” It means a white actor plays an Asian.

They are taking Hollywood to task. The charges are that Hollywood is not sensitive to race or ethnicity. That Hollywood cares only about “box office” profits. That money drives the decision about whom to star in a movie or program.

At the same time, more Asian-Americans are on television and in the movies. As their numbers increase, their confidence to promote their case increases.

Stereotypes often play a role in casting. Black actors play Pullman car porters. In part, it is because most Pullman car porters were black. But in American westerns, white actors almost always played Indians. Native Americans no longer accept this.

Stars do not always matter. Television ads show people of every background.

Most movies are pure fiction. The appeal of the actor to the audience is most important. It means more than that an Asian actor play an Asian character.

Hollywood is like the nation. In most walks of life, minorities play a lesser role than their numbers show they should. One exception is sports. Even in that business, minorities are rarely found in the front office.

It is natural that the people who own things want to keep them. It does not make it right. Asian-Americans and other groups will continue to assert themselves. Change will come. It will be slower than most will want.

Source: The New York Times May 25, 2016

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