Hollywood has always had some trouble diversifying who we see on the screen. The Oscars is the first instance that comes to mind, with its overwhelming amount of white actors and actresses. Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee and Will Smith, among other celebrities decided to take a stance and fight for more inclusion, starting the movement #OscarsSoWhite. However, at the very bottom of the Hollywood spectrum are Asian actors and actresses. Their representation in Hollywood is almost nonexistent, with many directors giving white actors and actresses roles that portray Asian people.
One example of this whitewashing that happens is when Emma Stone was cast to play an ethnically mixed character in the movie Aloha. When a white female who holds no characteristics of being Asian American is cast in this kind of role, it's like a punch to the face. In a society where white actors and actresses dominate leading roles, Hollywood makes it clear there is no place for minorities.
We even see it on Netflix. Look at Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Tina Fey's portrayal of Dong is that of the stereotypical Asian American. He's good at math, has broken english, works at a Chinese restaurant, and his status in America as an immigrant all serve to perpetuate this narrow role of Asians in film. Many only use Asians in film for comic relief, and you will rarely find Asians cast in serious, leading roles.
Scarlett Johansson's role in Ghost Shell has also stirred up some controversy. Playing Major Motoko Kusanagi, they have been using CGI to shift her ethnicity, and make her appear more Asian. It's upsetting that the problem is still continuing. Interestingly enough, her character is now only going by "Major", erasing the fact that her whole name is obviously Japanese. It's frustrating that Asian actors and actresses are constantly denied opportunities to play big roles, when it always goes to their white counterparts. It denies them the chance to have breakthrough roles, always keeping them at a certain level. In the end, Hollywood ultimately went with Scarlett because she brings in the global pull they need to win the box office race.
The whitewashing of Asian characters is not the only problem. It's about cultural ownership. It doesn't matter that Ghost Shell is undoubtedly Japanese, set in Japan, written by a Japanese writer. As soon as DreamWorks bought the rights to make it into a film, they call the shots on who they want to cast. And unfortunately, it is almost always a predominantly white cast.
Another thing to consider is accountability on the part of white actors and actresses who decide to take these roles. When researching the role, they should know not to take a role if they think it's better suited for someone else.
It's unfortunate to see Asian actors and actresses so underrepresented in the movie industry. It's time we demand that Hollywood starts seeking out Asian actors and giving them worthwhile roles.