This is a very controversial occurrence that Hollywood is no stranger to – white washing.
Are white actors ever allowed to play Asian characters? Most people think no, but as we’ve seen numerous times, the film industry usually chooses to ignore people’s infuriated reactions to white washing for the sake of box office success. Unfortunately, because of decades of no positive representation for the Asian community in the media, there are few big Asian names in Hollywood, and any movie needs star power to prosper.
One of the latest controversies of this type involves Doctor Strange and Tilda Swinton’s role. Nowadays, Korean-American actress and comedian Margaret Cho has been involved in a minor conflict with Swinton regarding a conversation the two had via email several months ago. As you probably already know, Swinton was cast as The Ancient One — a character initially written as Tibetan.
The feud started after Cho did a podcast interview, followed by Swinton releasing their private email conversation to the public. Now Margaret Cho has the chance of having the last word.
Recently, Cho’s representatives released a statement that is perceived as her final comment of the issue, meant to put an end to their educated and somewhat polite feud.
“Asian actors should play Asian roles. I believe my emails stand on their own and should be taken for the spirit in which they were intended,” Margaret stated.
Furthermore, she added that in the end she is glad the problematic nature of white washing in Hollywood has gained some attention because of her emails and her respect for Swinton has not been diminished. “I am grateful that the debate has now entered the national discussion and remain a huge fan of Tilda’s. Now I’m going to go fall asleep at a museum.”
Very diplomatic! Well done, Margaret Cho, we definitely need more artists like you in entertainment.