Whitewashing backlash rolls in over 'Hellboy' casting of Ed Skrein

Cries of whitewashing in Hollywood show no signs of slowing as white actors continue to land roles depicting characters of Asian decent in source material for major films.

On Monday, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Deadpool actor Ed Skrein is set to play Major Ben Daimio in the Hellboy reboot. Skrein later confirmed the part on Twitter, where it has been met with backlash.

Users are arguing that casting Skrein, a white actor, as Daimio, a Japanese-American military character in the comic, is a case of whitewashing, which appropriates marginalized groups and takes away opportunities from actors of color.

Actress Cindy Chu, who has made appearances in MacGyver and New Girl, tweeted her disapproval of the casting choice.  

“I guess they want this to fail. #whitewashing,” she wrote.

Voice actress Stephanie Sheh, who has voiced a number of characters in popular animated series including a recent Sailor Moon series and DC Superhero Girls, also vented frustration.

“Here we go again. Why Hollywood do you keep forcing me to boycott your films. #whitewash #hellboy,” she wrote.

“My fellow Asians if you are hurting from the #hellboy #whitewashing announcement. Go see @GookFilm which TERRIFIC unknown Asian actors!”

Jeff Yang, an op-ed writer with CNN, went on to list actors of Asian decent who could have filled the roll, including Predators’ Louis Changchien and Hawaii Five-O’s Will Yun Lee.

2017 has seen multiple controversies stemming from concerns of whitewashing and appropriation. 

Ghost in the Shella live-action remake of the Japanese manga starring Scarlett Johansson, faced criticism for her casting ahead of its opening in March. Tilda Swinton saw the same with Doctor Strange, where the non-Asian actress played the character The Ancient One.

Netflix’s Iron Fist, which stars Game of Thrones’ Finn Jones as the titular Iron Fist, dealt with cultural appropriation criticism.  

In 2015, Emma Stone apologized for her role in Aloha, which received criticism for casting the blond, Caucasian actress to play a quarter-Chinese, quarter-Hawaiian and half-Swedish character.

“There’s a lot of conversation about how we want to see people represented on screen and what we need to change as a business to reflect culture in a clearer way and not in an idealized way,” Stone said in an interview with Australian news outlet News.Com.AU.

Netflix’s Death Note, the English-language adaptation of the popular Japanese manga of the same name, whose lead character was changed from Light Yagami to Light Turner also stirred casting controvery, as did Matt Damon’s The Great Wall.

Despite social media backlash, however, movies can still do well — online outrage doesn’t really matter to moviegoing audiences as a whole, Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore told USA TODAY when discussing Ghost in the Shell in March.

“It’s good that people can make their issue with the movie known via social media. But ultimately, people vote with their dollars,” he explained.

Whitewashing backlash rolls in over 'Hellboy' casting of Ed SkreinEntertainment

Concerns about whitewashing in the film industry aren’t going away with the sci-fi action film ‘Ghost in the Shell.’ USA TODAY

 

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