By Guest Contributor Monique Jones
A few days ago, I talked a bit about the all-white shortlist for Akira on my site. After doing so, I decided to create my own all-Asian shortlist of actors and actresses that could star in the film. Since this is being posted on Racialicious, I’m fairly certain I don’t have to tell the readers that race and Hollywood are connected. But, still, let me just make it clear why I’m writing this post:
As I’ve alluded to many times on my own site, race isn’t supposed to be important in a post-racial world, BUT, we aren’t in a post-racial world yet, not when we still have people in America who believe President Obama is not an American simply because he’s the first American president of known African descent. As far as I can see, race will be a deciding factor in a lot of things for several more years to come, and Hollywood is one of the places it’ll be a factor. This all-white shortlist alone shows that race will still be a factor. Yes, the movie has been changed from the original setting of “Neo-Tokyo” to “Neo-Manhattan”, but that doesn’t mean that the race/ethnicity of the characters have to change.
There are not many roles for Asian actors to get outside of indie films and mainstream kung-fu/martial arts films, so when the time comes for there to be a film that should cast Asian actors, such as Akira and The Last Airbender, the bulk of the roles go to Caucasian actors instead of actors that actually look like the characters. The problem is that a lot of studios still hold on to the stereotypical notion that Asian actors and actresses only sell in martial arts/action films; that they can only be the lead in such a film, not in a dramatic and/or romantic film like Philadelphia or The Notebook. So, I say all of this to say that race and image in Hollywood go hand-in-hand and images in Hollywood still need to be addressed by the System-at-Large.
So with that out of the way, let’s get on to the shortlisting!