The White Man Won't Save The World
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The White Man Won't Save The World

Whitewashing in Hollywood continues to perpetuate the "white savior complex."

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The White Man Won't Save The World
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If it were up to Donald Trump, the whole world would be whitewashed (and brainwashed).

But, as actress Constance Wu stated in her recent argument against whitewashing in Hollywood: "We have to stop perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world." The myth Wu speaks of has unfortunately spread the world over from life to media and back again, dragging in its messy wake any semblance of respect that mankind once held for itself.

Sorry #Drumpf, looks like you're out of a job.

What Wu's response was specifically triggered by was the new film "The Great Wall," starring a very Caucasian Matt Damon as a war hero in ancient China. The act of casting white actors in roles that should be logically designated to POC is not a recent development.

John Wayne (far right), starring as Genghis Khan in "The Conquerer" (1956).

Storytelling, the spring from which all entertainment flows, has been around since the human race discovered language in its basest form. The stories that matter always hold a grain of truth to them, and once a story that is based in a certain culture or reality takes liberties with who is representing and telling the story, it loses all credibility and legitimate impact.

There's an argument for pleading ignorance in casting caucasian actors in culturally and racially diverse roles in the 1950's; some would say: "that's just how Americans were taught to think back then." In my opinion, those people are spouting hogwash, and people should never be passive in their acceptance of falsities and offensive behavior, but in retrospect, with little ability to change the past, they have a point.

That said, in this day and age, there should be absolutely no reason filmmakers should continue their past mistakes and thereby perpetuate racist standards and stereotypes. The general Hollywood scapegoat continues to be: "but, we can't make money without a star" or "it's what the foreign market wants!"

Maybe the change shouldn't start with the demand, but from within the institution itself. By pushing the image that white men (and women, at times) are the answer to all the world's problems, unfortunately, under-educated people start to believe it, and educated people unconsciously put it into their minds as well.


Ben Affleck playing a real-life Hispanic man, Tony Mendez, in the 2012 Tony nominated film, "Argo."

Now, believe me, I know there are many conscientious, forward-thinking "white men" out there. I am honored to call many of them my dear friends. This rant is not aimed at them, but merely at the bad apples in the bunch that guide a society that has grown to worship a certain gender and skin color because of ingrown, unconscious, yes, systematic racism from centuries of colonization, globalization and the modern result: "white savior complex."

As Wu states in the previously mentioned arresting argument against whitewashing, "our heroes don't look like Matt Damon. They look like Malala. Ghandi. Mandela." Global cultures that are not, well, American, have held their own standards of beauty, art, science, politics and heroism for most likely much longer than the US of A has even existed as a nation.

So, next time you head out to the theatre to endorse the newest blockbuster or art film, think twice about supporting the films that perpetuate a standard that has never belonged and should have died long ago.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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