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Yellowface: Asian Whitewashing and Racism in Hollywood

TCM is showing a documentary from 2019 about how Asians were portrayed in Hollywood and how white actors took the roles of Asians in film. The full documentary is linked below. On DL we have at times discussed films with stereotypical Asian portrayals and actors who have done so-called "yellowface" including Charlie Chan films, Katherine Hepburn, Marlon Brando, Linda Hunt, DL fave Luise Rainer ("So young.") and, of course, Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Do you still watch these films, or are they offensive to the point where you no longer watch them?

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by Anonymousreply 54May 15, 2024 3:38 PM


Actors pretended to be somebody they aren't.

String them up!

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by Anonymousreply 1May 7, 2024 4:02 AM

[quote]Actors pretended to be somebody they aren't.

Only the white ones

by Anonymousreply 2May 7, 2024 4:08 AM

Well, if that doesn't just Warner my Oland.

by Anonymousreply 3May 7, 2024 4:13 AM

Asian guys are so hot. I don’t get why Hollywood didn’t want them

by Anonymousreply 4May 7, 2024 4:15 AM

There is nothing better than Sidney Toler's Charlie Chan when he's paired up with Mantan Moreland's Birmingham Brown.

by Anonymousreply 5May 7, 2024 4:19 AM

Feel better?

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by Anonymousreply 6May 7, 2024 4:24 AM

TCM has a series of Asian-themed films tonight including Daughter of the Dragon with Warner Oland.

by Anonymousreply 7May 14, 2024 2:44 AM

Am I mentioned?

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by Anonymousreply 8May 14, 2024 2:48 AM

And still no documentary on “caneface”? From Shirley MacLaine in The Children’s Hour, to Cher in Silkwood, to Charlize Theron in Monster. Unlike “yellow-face”, this type of casting persists as one of the last acceptable forms of appropriation and cultural smudging.

by Anonymousreply 9May 14, 2024 2:51 AM

You can pry Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s out of my cold dead hands.

by Anonymousreply 10May 14, 2024 2:56 AM

How many white people have been in Asian films in the last 80 years?

by Anonymousreply 11May 14, 2024 4:04 AM

R11 The correct analogy would be in those 80 years, how many of Asian movies did “whiteface”?

by Anonymousreply 12May 14, 2024 4:12 AM

In Japan there was a famous stage version of Gone With The Wind, first done as a straight play, later adapted as a musical. With a Japanese cast. It may have played in London, as well. Is that "offensive"? I don't find it so. Maybe we should look at Hollywood's casting of Caucasians as Asians in the same way. If the production isn't mocking a race I don't see the problem. Dragon Seed, with Hepburn, was a pro-Chinese film, for ex.

by Anonymousreply 13May 14, 2024 4:17 AM

R2 Exactly. When it’s the other way around and a white character is played by a black or Asian, all of a sudden it’s outrageous!”

Only in the last 15ish years has Hollywood stopped casting white people as people of color. It’s not like it was 50 years ago.

Angelina Jolie played a black woman not too long ago where she painted her face brown and wore a curly wig.

by Anonymousreply 14May 14, 2024 4:17 AM

R13 Theres nothing wrong with adaptation. Did they paint their faces pink and wear wide contact lenses to do it?

“The Departed” is an Asian remake. I didn’t see Leonardo DiCaprio wearing orange makeup with tape to slant their eyes.

There’s a difference.

by Anonymousreply 15May 14, 2024 4:21 AM

Robert Downey Jr in “Tropic Thunder” made fun of Hollywood by doing blackface in the movie.

That Angelina Jolie movie came out a year before!

Like the Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman story is not that far fetched. People think it’s ridiculous and they make the “white actor as Malcolm X” memes all over social media but people act like stuff like that wasn’t happening in Hollywood all the way into the 2000s.

by Anonymousreply 16May 14, 2024 4:26 AM

Emma Stone in that “Aloha” movie too. She was Hawaiian.

It’s ok for whites to do it but the idea of black people or Asians being white is utterly ridiculous.

The double standard is stupid because it’s saying whites are default and universal and can play anything which is textbook white supremacy (yesss I said that term because that’s what it means).

by Anonymousreply 17May 14, 2024 4:28 AM

There were actors throughout the decades who “passed”. Latinos like Jennifer Lopez had some white roles.

But that’s different from an actor having to paint their fucking face black or orange to be black or Asian.

by Anonymousreply 18May 14, 2024 4:34 AM

Fuck that shit!!!

by Anonymousreply 19May 14, 2024 4:39 AM
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by Anonymousreply 20May 14, 2024 5:31 AM

Also Ava Gardner. Played every biracial permutation under the sun.

by Anonymousreply 21May 14, 2024 10:53 AM

[quote]Angelina Jolie played a black woman not too long ago where she painted her face brown and wore a curly wig.

Mariane Pearl is French of Afro-Cuban descent (mother) and Dutch Jewish (father).

Also, she had requested that Angelina play her in A MIGHTY HEART.

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by Anonymousreply 22May 14, 2024 11:06 AM

Don't forget Tilda Swinton as a bald, elderly Asian man.

by Anonymousreply 23May 14, 2024 11:12 AM

R15 They played white and black people in the American south. With appropriate costumes, etc. I don't know what the makeup looked like. Is the makeup the main problem for you? The Departed was set in Boston not Hong Kong like Infernal Affairs, so your point escapes me.

by Anonymousreply 24May 14, 2024 12:42 PM

R20 R21 These idea as so ingrained in people it's difficult to talk logically. But if a Eurasian person such as the role Jennifer Jones played in Love is a Many Splendored Thing is half Caucasian and half Asian, why must that person be played by an Asian? They are just as much Caucasian as Asian, so what's wrong with a Caucasian playing a mixed-race person? If Ava Gardner played an Anglo-Indian, same thing.

by Anonymousreply 25May 14, 2024 12:46 PM

I would also add, in a movie like Dragon Seed, made during World War II. where was Hollywood going to find an all-Chinese cast to play in it? Not to mention, how were they going to sell that cast to a predominantly white audience?

by Anonymousreply 26May 14, 2024 1:00 PM

[quote] Mariane Pearl is French of Afro-Cuban descent (mother) and Dutch Jewish (father). Also, she had requested that Angelina play her in A MIGHTY HEART.

Yeah, so brownface. Marianne Pearl is not an beauty, so it’s little wonder she wanted Angelina to portray her.

by Anonymousreply 27May 14, 2024 1:12 PM

Cry me a river.

by Anonymousreply 28May 14, 2024 1:39 PM

Don’t let blacks catch wind of this documentary. It’ll end in a shootout with the Asians.

by Anonymousreply 29May 14, 2024 1:40 PM

Nothing but blatant racism can explain casting David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu when they could have gone with Bruce Lee.

by Anonymousreply 30May 14, 2024 1:59 PM

Sometimes white actors playing black characters work. Steve Martin was excellent in the Jerk.

by Anonymousreply 31May 14, 2024 2:24 PM

No yellowface was funny enough to play these roles!!

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by Anonymousreply 32May 14, 2024 2:47 PM

R28, I'm sure if this complaint were made about gay men, you might feel differently about it.

by Anonymousreply 33May 14, 2024 6:34 PM

Whites have thick skin when it doesn’t involve them.

When Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn were played by black actresses, they boycotted and sabotaged ratings and did what they could do to drag it down.

But paint a white person in brown or orange makeup and switch their races and “what’s the big deal? Sensitive crybabies!!”

by Anonymousreply 34May 14, 2024 8:09 PM

[quote] Marianne Pearl is not an beauty

by Anonymousreply 35May 14, 2024 8:19 PM

[quote] When Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn were played by black actresses, they boycotted and sabotaged ratings and did what they could do to drag it down.

[quote] But paint a white person in brown or orange makeup and switch their races and “what’s the big deal? Sensitive crybabies!!”

Did the black actress paint her face white to play Anne Boleyn? No.

by Anonymousreply 36May 14, 2024 8:23 PM

R34, you are very much correct. Some people can't even abide if a light, fluffy period piece -- say, Bridgerton! -- has black actors. But they'll claim it's because of historical inaccuracy.

by Anonymousreply 37May 14, 2024 8:24 PM

[quote] When Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn were played by black actresses, they boycotted and sabotaged ratings and did what they could do to drag it down.

This never happened.

by Anonymousreply 38May 14, 2024 9:52 PM

More Marxism at play.

by Anonymousreply 39May 14, 2024 9:53 PM

Ava Gardner was of Melungeon descent so she had African and Native American heritage in addition to her European roots.

by Anonymousreply 40May 14, 2024 10:18 PM

I watched the documentary last week. Informative and entertaining.

by Anonymousreply 41May 14, 2024 10:22 PM

[quote]R40 Ava Gardner was of Melungeon descent

I believe that’s just modern speculation.

by Anonymousreply 42May 14, 2024 11:56 PM

Meghan played white for years and nobody had a problem with it. And when the Queen gave her a black equerry she went full on white supremacist. It's a wonder she didn't burn a cross in front of Buckingham Palace. She could have led a KKK charge right out of Birth of a Nation.

by Anonymousreply 43May 15, 2024 12:15 AM

[quote]Dragon Seed, with Hepburn

And the carra rirries in broom?

by Anonymousreply 44May 15, 2024 12:25 AM

R44 = founder of Lululemon

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by Anonymousreply 45May 15, 2024 12:59 AM

R38 Right

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by Anonymousreply 46May 15, 2024 3:02 AM

R38 Right

Whites didn’t care

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by Anonymousreply 47May 15, 2024 3:04 AM

R37 They were upset there were black people in Star Wars and Lord of the Rings!

There’s TWO Star Wars actors - black and Asian, who suffered from mental health issues because of the backlash in their roles in Star Wars. Ahmed Best and Kelly Marie Tran.

by Anonymousreply 48May 15, 2024 3:06 AM

White people even complain when there are black adaptations of stories. I know cause it’s on DL.

But whites are free to re-interpret or adapt anything they like.

by Anonymousreply 49May 15, 2024 3:11 AM

R49 You mean like all those movies where white people played Martin Luther King and Paul Robeson, and stuff like that?

by Anonymousreply 50May 15, 2024 11:26 AM

Inevitably, this thread has turned into black/white shit, as they always do. All other minorities be damned; your concerns don't matter.

by Anonymousreply 51May 15, 2024 1:03 PM

Blacks and whites are the only real Americans.

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by Anonymousreply 52May 15, 2024 1:34 PM

Next up: A documentary on misogyny in Hollywood and how actresses had to suck dick to get roles.

Next up: A documentary on homophobia in Hollywood and how gays and lesbians were portrayed as degenerates in movies since the 1930s.

Next up: A documentary on dwarfphobia and how dwarfs were cast as freaks in movies like The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka.

Next up: A documentary on blonde women in Hollywood and how they were portrayed as hypersexual airheads for decades.

Did I forget any oppressed group?

by Anonymousreply 53May 15, 2024 3:01 PM

R34 Blacks have thin skin when it doesn't involve them. Blacks playing white characters in movies today is OK and any criticism of that is racism but whites playing other races in movies from the past, now that was racist!

People are hypocrites.

by Anonymousreply 54May 15, 2024 3:38 PM
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