Tag Archives: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas Review: Yellowface And Orientalism

By Guest Contributor Jennifer; originally published at Mixed Race America

This post is the second installment in a three-part review. See parts one and three.

There are many people who have written about the phenomenon of “yellowface,” which is the Asian version of “blackface”–having white (although at times there have been black) actors and actresses portraying Asian and Asian American people in Hollywood films.  Racebending.com has a particularly astute and thorough accounting by contributor Michelle I.  I recommend reading her piece, “Yellowface: A Story in Pictures,” to familiarize yourself with the looooong history of yellowface in Hollywood cinema.  But I think this photo of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany‘s probably says it all:

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Quoted: MANAA Speaks Up Against Cloud Atlas

Jim Sturgess in “Cloud Atlas.” Photo via Collider.com.

“Cloud Atlas” may be artistically ambitious, but it’s also racially retrograde, according to a blistering new release from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans …

… “Cloud Atlas” missed a great opportunity. The Korea story’s protagonist is an Asian man–an action hero who defies the odds and holds off armies of attackers,” Guy Aoki, MANAA’s founding president, said in a statement. “He’s the one who liberates [a clone played by actress] Doona Bae from her repressive life and encourages her to join the resistance against the government. It would have been a great, stereotype-busting role for an Asian American actor to play, as Asian American men aren’t allowed to be dynamic or heroic very often.”

Instead, it is Jim Sturgess who plays that role, while Hugo Weaving and James D’Arcy are also cast as Asian actors.
- The Hollywood Reporter