WHITEWASHING THRIVES IN HOLLYWOOD

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WHITEWASHING THRIVES IN HOLLYWOOD

Students notice discrepancy between books and film.

Students notice discrepancy between books and film.

McKayla Pilla

Students notice discrepancy between books and film.

McKayla Pilla

McKayla Pilla

Students notice discrepancy between books and film.

Maliha Kareem, Reporter

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In the eyes of Hollywood, the lighter a person’s skin is correlates directly with their success. ‘White washing’ can be seen throughout history. This is when Hollywood often casts caucasian actors to play a role of someone of color, such as The Last Airbender, A Beautiful Mind, The Hunger Games, etc.  This is not only completely disrespectful for people of the represented culture, but unjustly cut positions to the those of the ethnicity intended for the role, thus cutting funds of actors of color (PoC) who could have easily been cast.

Earlier this year the film Aloha was released starring Emma Stone as a character who is a “quarter Hawaiian and quarter Chinese.” This screening caused much controversy and is yet another example of racial bias among casting calls. 

Junior Ruth Nguyen comments, “Whitewashing has always been part of the American culture. I think more people would watch the film if it was predominantly white people. I would like it more if other races were given opportunities and had the chance to act. ”

A retaliation can be seen by the youth through the trending Twitter tag #Mycultureisnotyourcouture. This is a movement for PoC to reclaim their culture and promotes to educate people that wearing for example, a bindi, is not an accessory. The history and appreciation must not be neglected or forgotten.

A modern representation of Cleopatra is one of the many examples of white washing (1963). In this movie the role of Cleopatra was cast to English actress Elizabeth Taylor. Despite Cleopatra clearly having Egyptian roots, and the rich diversity in the United States having much to offer, the role was still cast to a white women. In this film Taylor would wear props for the role, such as her makeup, clothes, and head pieces which have no connection to her personally, and only serve to mock the historical significance it serves and personally for people of this culture.

Junior Gabriella Miranda notes, “The stereotypes in film just prove what American society thinks of people of color and the standard of beauty; it just proves how right we are even though this discrimination goes unnoticed by most. When I was younger I would straighten my hair and dress the way I saw from other girls, films, basically everything around me. It still exists.”

A nation enriched with culture and diversity must remember to always respect and appreciate these cultures. It is unjust for children to feel this pressure repeatedly; it leads to an attempted assimilation to an image produced in their mind. The ‘norm’ or image only has negative effects on a child’s sense of belonging and acceptance, which can lead to academic failure and personal distress. Hollywood is only further promoting this.

Viola Davis made history as the first black woman to win “Best Actress in Drama” In the 2015 Emmys, and sums it up very well during her acceptance speech.

“The only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity,” says Davis. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”

 

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