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The casting of Cumberbatch was a mistake on the part of the producers. I am not being critical of the actor or his talent, just the casting
It smells. Nobody forced Abrams to go with Cumberbatch. Abrams has worked with South Asian actors before. There are scores of famous South Asian actors who could have been cast for this role (big box office money in India, too.) Perhaps if Abrams has tried to cast South Asian actors in the first place, he wouldn’t have even had this time crunch.
It is ridiculous to blame Del Toro for the role being whitewashed. Abrams has always had a choice. For all we know, Del Toro dropped the role because he felt it wouldn’t be right for him to play a South Asian character.
Over the past few weeks, I have joined with a growing number of Queer South Asian, Asian, Pacific Islander activists, artists, and organizers in protesting the violent transphobia and cultural appropriation and misrepresentation in the new Off-Broadway musical, Bunty Berman Presents. (For a detailed critique of the several problematic components of the musical, see my earlier review)
On Thursday night, I and several other activists gathered outside the Acorn Theatre at Theater Row in Manhattan to hand out informational pamphlets and provide audience members with some context for the musical’s message. We made the choice for our direct action to be a positivity-filled action. We didn’t chant or attack people. We were there to give people information and engage with audience members. While we weren’t expecting an overly receptive crowd, but the amount of hostility and negativity we received in the forms of numerous micro-aggressions really shocked me. Below are a compilation of various microaggressions we experienced:
While yellowface representations may give us an externalized image to let us know what non-Asian Americans think of Asians and Asian Americans, it is not an Asian American self-representation. ‘Yellowface logics,’ then, are the logics that assume it is okay for the dominant mainstream to project an image of Asians and Asian Americans that it finds interesting, amusing, demeaning, off-putting, or simply worth projecting. It is the image projected outward for popular consumption, consideration, or discussion—the logic that privileges dominant stereotypes and representations over Asian and Asian American self-representations. The projection of yellowface logics offers up a mask of a people as a definition of the peoples themselves.
As unbelievable as [White Dude Super Detective (WDSD)] characters are, they would become infinitely more so if their race or gender were changed. In The Mentalist, WDSD Patrick Jane once grifted clients as a fake psychic, but now works as a hard-to-control resource for the California Bureau of Investigations. What if the Jane character were a Latino ex-grifter? Would his arrogance and propensity for sneaking into suspect’s homes and accusing wealthy businessmen of impropriety read as quirky and charming? Would anyone believe that a police force would allow such behavior? Could the Scotland Yard of fantasy be down with a coke-addicted black Sherlock—no matter how clever?
The San Francisco police department abides Adrian Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, as the FBI allows Perception’s Dr. Daniel Pierce to assist on cases, despite his unmedicated schizophrenia and paranoia, which results in hallucinations. Could a black woman be cast in those roles to the same effect? I submit, that even in the fictional worlds of literature and television, race and gender matter. Belief can only be suspended so far. And this archetype is reliant on power that comes with white maleness in American society.
#i still remember bossymarmalade and glockgal’s deconstruction of white privilege in supernatural #and how dean and sam worked so well #because no one ever questioned white dudes #even when they were sketchy as fuck #and then glockgal drew racebent spn comics #where sam and dean really had to work to be able to be hunters #because they couldn’t just get away with fake IDs now that they weren’t white anymore #it was so amazing #i would’ve watched THAT show forever
This. This. And This.(via bana05)
No, Ricardo Montalban wasn’t Indian. He looked more like my Nana and her brothers and sisters, olive skinned and dark haired, spoke like them in a softly accented English. He looked more like the Gonzalezes, Almeidas, and Reals that fill the roots of my family tree than a Singh, that is true.
But television casting, like most other racial matters in the late 60s, was beyond problematic. Yes, Montalban was asked to play a South East Asian man. But what was extraordinary was that Roddenberry, after casting Montalban, imagined this villain to be brilliant, mercurial, and charismatic, and a man of color. And a man who had become pigeonholed by the limited roles offered to Mexican actors became one of science-fiction’s most iconic characters.
Being a Latina sci-fi fan is to be a bit of a stranger in a strange land. I love the Walking Dead, but the only Hispanics we’ve seen have been typical gangbangers, however well-meaning. Star Trek has had one lone Latina character, B’elanna Torres. The people with brown skin in the Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones aren’t exactly people you want to be. We’re exotic or swarthy or lazy or thuggish or stupid, and after a while you just give up hope of seeing someone who defies those stereotypes at Phil Coulson’s side or in science blue or on SG:1 or as a tribute in the Hunger Games.
So yes, Ricardo Montalban was Mexican. Yes, his parents were Castilian. Just know for some of us, it doesn’t make this any easier.
Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always make a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom. They always ask me how tall I am and I always lie and say 5 feet 10 inches. Next time, I am going to get more adventurous. If they ask me ‘what color are you?’ I am going to say white.
Multiple actors and other prominent individuals in the film industry with the last name “Khan” have been detained when entering the country. Irrfan Khan (The Life of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, Spider-man) described the three times he was stopped—while on the way to receive honors for his roles in films such as The Namesake—as “humiliating.” Actor Aamir Khan was stopped and stripped searched in 2002. Director Kabir Khan, was reportedly detained at least three times in 2008 while filming in the United States. The New York Times ended up remarking on The Dangers of Fying While Khan
This much is clear:
If you’re an award winning actor named Khan, you will still get stopped and humiliated at the airport. When that rare character in American media finally shows up sharing your name, he will be played by a white British man. That actor will wear your name for one movie and sneer and strut to great critical acclaim. You will wear your racialized name, your skin color, and hope you don’t get detained another time.
I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well, she’s too Asian’, or, ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.
I can’t say that there is no racism – there’s definitely something there that’s not easy, which makes [an acting career] much more difficult.