- beaniebum asked
This is one of those situations where the whole “If the main character could be a white dude then it probably will be, but if the main character could be a person of color, then it probably won’t be” Hollywood trope comes in. Especially in tragedy movies.
Sure, a movie about the genocide in Tibet could feature a Tibetan main character, but let’s make the character a white guy. Want to make a movie about the Indian Ocean tsunami set in Thailand? Sure, the family the story follows could be a Thai family, but why do that when you can feature European tourists (and anglicize them, to boot)? Want to tell a story about the Rape of Nanking? We could focus on the women, white and Chinese, in Nanking at the time of the mayhem, or we could make up a completely made up white man and make the movie about him!
Because white folks were there, too! Sure, they weren’t the ones who bore the brunt of these tragedies—not the ones facing genocide, not their cultures or homes or countries being systemically destroyed. But a non-zero amount of them were there, so that’s accurate.
And you can always find opportunities to plug them in—even if you have to make up a white male character—because they could have been there. That’s why when Hollywood wanted to adapt the story of Chong Kim—an Asian American trafficking survivor—they wanted to create a heroic white male rescuer to save the woman who, in real life, saved herself.
So if you want to make a movie about this huge natural disaster and how the mismanagement of it was one of the most egregious examples of institutionalized racism in modern American history, sure, you could make it about some of the real people who were affected by the double whammy of natural disaster and systemic racism.
Or you could create a completely fabricated story starring a completely fabricated white dude character. After all, many of the people impacted by Hurricane Katrina were white. And you can bet that if a movie is made about it, it will be a story about someone who looks like them. Even if Hollywood has to make one up.
I wholeheartedly agree that the live-action “Akira” remake should just be re-named “Randy.”
I’ve said it many times before, and I’ll say it again: Hollywood can make a movie set anywhere in the world, in any era of history… and still somehow find a way for the movie to star a white guy. Always.
In a lot of ways Piper was my Trojan Horse. You’re not going to go into a network and sell a show on really fascinating tales of black women, and Latina women, and old women and criminals. But if you take this white girl, this sort of fish out of water, and you follow her in, you can then expand your world and tell all of those other stories. But it’s a hard sell to just go in and try to sell those stories initially. The girl next door, the cool blonde, is a very easy access point, and it’s relatable for a lot of audiences and a lot of networks looking for a certain demographic. It’s useful.
Hollywood eventually came calling. Kim was approached by various writers and producers who wanted to adapt her story, frequently inserting male characters in savior roles.
“They wanted to keep the Asian girl,” Kim recounts, “but have someone like Russell Crowe or Johnny Depp to play an undercover cop or a customer and go after these people, and he meets Eden and he’s so captivated. First of all, I never had a love story like that …” Kim begins.
Chung chimes in, “I love how men love to romanticize being a customer and then falling in love and rescuing the girl. It’s like, that shit never happens. Noble guys don’t go to brothels.”