Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Was it just for the stereotypes?

First go read this article at Racialicious then come back. Take all the time you want I'll still be here.

Oh back already? Let's continue then.

The post over there is about the whitewashing of the casting prospects for the upcoming live action Akira movie. Namely they are asking why the geek community is so quiet about it. (Frankly I had gotten so sick of hearing hopes, dreams, and rumors about a live action Akira that I stop caring a few years ago and I'm just not as up to snuff on my otakuness as I used to be.) After reading that post I started to think about Asian actors and how far they have penetrated American audiences in the last few decades.

If you look at movies and tv from about 25 years ago and you would not be able to find much beyond Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Samo Hung, Chow Yun Fat, Anita Mui (RIP), and Michelle Yoeh. And even then it was pretty much limited to martial arts movies (with the main exception of George Takei). These days things are better but are they really equal?

If you look for Asian actors today, and I'm talking ones that are household names where if someone chimes off the name you pull multiple things they've been in (or projects they been on for a long time) that weren't the stereotype of martial artist, school/music prodigy, or bad driver, there are certainly more than in the past. Daniel Dae Kim did his thing on Angel, LOST, and is working the new Hawaii 5-0. Grace Park, loved her in Battlestar Galactica and I think she's on the new Hawaii 5-0 too. John Cho was funny as hell in the Harold and Kumar movies and has taken the mantle of Sulu in the recent Star Trek reboot. I don't know if she's stil on the show (I've only watched like 5 episodes of it) but Sandra Oh was doing her thing on Grey's Anatomy. And of course the comedic styling of Margaret Cho (who has done a good bit of comedy on calling out the stereotypes). But I wonder though.

I kinda wish I could pull off some sort of series of street interviews or something about Asian actors and how quickly random people would be able to name one the current starts I mentioned (or perhaps another I don't know about or didn't mention) vs one the older ones (who for the most part are not quite as active as they were 25 or so years ago. But I don't think I could because 1) its hard to do street interviews in a rural backwoods area and 2) as a black person I'm not sure it would be my place to do such a thing on this topic.

Or maybe I'm out of touch.