George Takei Called Out Racism In Hollywood Casting for Asian Actors & Didn’t Hold Back

George Takei, a Japanese actor with a social media presence that’s pretty much been slaying in the social justice game these days, just dropped another truth bomb on us, this time with Takei calling out white-washing in Hollywood. Takei responded to Marvel’s rightfully controversial decision to cast the white actress Tilda Swinton as a Tibetan man in the upcoming film “Doctor Strange.”

It appears he was moved to post about the film by the excuse the filmmakers provided to justify the casting decision, which was that they had done so to avoid offending the Chinese government and in so doing, lose marketing opportunities in China in the future, according to the New York Times. Pretty much calling this excuse on its BS, Takei wrote: “So let me get this straight. You cast a white actress so you wouldn’t hurt sales…in Asia? This backpedaling is nearly as cringeworthy as the casting. Marvel must think we’re all idiots.” To Takei, this fear of the Chinese government taking issue with casting was already addressed by changing the film’s action setting to Kathmandu, Nepal.

Ultimately, Takei claims, “They cast Tilda because they believe white audiences want to see white faces. Audiences, too, should be aware of how dumb and out of touch the studios think we are.”

George Takei hollywood racism
CREDIT: George Takei/Facebook

To be honest, there’s a lot I could say and reference at this point regarding Hollywood’s big diversity problem. I could point to all the controversy at this year’s white-washed Oscar’s for starters, or, more relevant to Takei’s post, how Scarlett Johannson was just cast as Motoko Kusangi in Ghost in the Shell, a film based on a Japanese story.

There’s also the recent study by the University of Southern California which analyzed the 700 top-grossing films between 2007 and 2014 and found that of the top 100 films of 2014, nearly three-quarters of all characters were white, the study showed. Simultaneously, only 17 of the top movies that year featured non-white lead or co-lead actors.

All of this is indicative of two related issues, which are that in Hollywood, we’re not representing the stories and cultures of people of color anywhere near enough, and even when we are, we’re not letting actual people of color represent themselves.

takei1
CREDIT: George Takei/Facebook

I could go on, and frankly, for quite a while, too, but I think Takei put it best in one of his Facebook comments. See the screenshot above or read here:

“To those who say, ‘She [sic] an actress, this is fiction,’ remember that Hollywood has been casting white actors in Asian roles for decades now, and we can’t keep pretending there isn’t something deeper at work here. If it were true that actors of Asian descent were being offered choice roles in films, these arguments might prevail. But there has been a long standing practice of taking roles that were originally Asian and rewriting them for white actors to play, leaving Asians invisible on the screen and underemployed as actors. This is a very real problem, not an abstract one. It is not about political correctness, it is about correcting systemic exclusion. Do you see the difference?”