Wes Anderson and Whitewashing (working title)

By: Katlyn McCarthy

Topic Change


Weiner, Jonah. “How Wes Anderson mishandles race.” Slate Magazine, 27 Sept. 2007, www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2007/09/unbearable_whiteness.html.

This article is all about the different characters roles that Wes Anderson has used in his films that can be portrayed as racist. This is a direct relation to the white washing of Anderson's new film that I discuss in my podcast and I want to bring it into my argument and compare these characters to the use of white actors in the place of culturally accurate actors. I intend to use this source as my main argument in my favourite vignette where I analyse Anderson's use of non-white actors in his other movie and how this compares to his new movie Isle of Dogs.

France, Lisa Respers. “#ExpressiveAsians hashtag used to fire back at Hollywood whitewashing.” CNN, Cable News Network, 11 Sept. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/09/11/entertainment/expressive-asians-whitewashing/index.html.

This article by Lisa Respers France talks about Nancy Wang Yueng's statement in her book that claims that the reason that Asian actors are not cast is because they are thought to not be able to show expressions very well. When this judgement made its way to the public, Asian people everywhere went to twitter starting the hashtag #ExpressiveAsians. This article is helpful in geting to the source of why whitwashing of asian charachters happens, and also shows a response that works in disclaiming such sterotypical (and frankly racist) statements that people in the film industry use to save themselves from being cast as a racist in the media.

Rose, Steve. “Ghost in the Shell's whitewashing: does Hollywood have an Asian problem?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/film/2017/mar/31/ghost-in-the-shells-whitewashing-does-hollywood-have-an-asian-problem.

This article is about the white washing of the character Motoko Kusanagi in the live action movie of Ghost in the Shell. Scarlett Johansson’s was cast to play the role of the Japanese anime character and the fans were fast to call out the directors whitewashing. The fans were so outraged that they managed to get over 100,000 signatures on a petition saying that a Japanese actress should have been cast for the role.

This article is significant for my story because Scarlett Johansson is said to be starring in Wes Anderson's movie that may also be whitewashing an Asian centred movie. The article goes on to mention other films in which Asian roles have been whitewashing by Caucasian actors which would help me in my research towards comparing different racially compromising movies and seeing what they may have in common with each other. I want to use this article in one of my vignettes where I talk about why Anderson used actors who have been in previous scandals for the same whitewashing that he's doing. It also helps my podcast to show that it is not only Anderson who is making questionable casting choices.

Sage, Alyssa. “Marvel Responds to 'Doctor Strange' 'Whitewashing' Criticisms Over Tilda Swinton Casting.” Variety, 27 Apr. 2016, variety.com/2016/film/news/doctor-strange-whitewashing-tilda-swinton-marvel-1201762267/.

This article is referring to the other movie/actress addressed in my opinion piece. This article concerns Tilda Swinton (another star of Anderson's new movie) and her role as a Tibetan monk character, The Ancient One. it goes without saying that fans were again outraged by the whitewashing that Marvel tried to cover up by saying that “The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic,”. Sage's article is the only one i've seen so far where the staffing team adresses the issue.Although this would be ideal, the fact that they try to make up excuses instead of apologizing, does not help their case. 

By knowing that both actresses from the 2 sources above were in whitewashing scandals, specifically for portraying the role of Asian characters, why would Anderson choose them? was it a conscious choice or not? This is what I plan on addressing in my podcast and one again bringing to light that there have been multiple scandals revolving around the misuse of White actors in Asian roles.

Sharf, Zack. “Wes Anderson Explains Hayao Miyazaki's Influence on 'Isle of Dogs' and Stop-Motion Challenges.” – IndieWire, IndieWire, 15 Feb. 2018, www.indiewire.com/2018/02/wes-anderson-isle-of-dogs-hayao-miyazaki-inspiration-favorite-dog-films-1201928932/amp/.

Zach Sharf's article centers around an interview with Wes Anderson regarding his new movie Isle of Dogs. In this interview Anderson addresses how he integrated Akira Kurowsawa and Hayao Miyazaki's styles into his Japanese influenced movie. Anderson also touched upon the cast and problems that occur during stop motion movies.

This is the first look we (the audience) have gotten into Anderson's choices and reasons for this movie. Although Anderson mentioned the cast, he did not bring up any of the controversy behind it. He did though, give a small explanation for the cast saying, “Most of the actors are people who I either have worked with or who I have loved for years”.  This is something i can definitive use for my podcast when discussing why Anderson chose such a eurocentric cast. I can also talk about how he chooses to use Japanese culture in his movie and whether or not it is okay for him to actually do that. I will probably use this source in my introduction and bring up if he, a white man, has the right to make a Japanese style movie and if the casting is the only issue with this movie.

Yoshida, Emily. “What It's Like to Watch Isle of Dogs As a Japanese Speaker.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 5 Apr. 2018, slate.com/culture/2018/04/what-its-like-to-watchisle-of-dogsas-a-japanese-speaker.html.

This is a more recent popular source about Isle of dogs. Author Emily Yoshida brings a new perspective to Isle of Dogs and it's cultural issues. As a Japanese speaker Yoshida did not want to judge the movie straight away but after watching it she mentioned that the parts of the movie where there was people speaking Japanese it was muffled so she could not understand it and there was no use of subtitles in the movies. She also mentioned that the lettering on he movie posters seemed to have been through google translate because they were off from the real translation. 

I think this article would bring a different view to my podcast and especially show's that Anderson did not have as much respect for the culture as he should have and more used the Japanese culture for aesthetic reasons and not as a tribute to the directors who influenced him. I think this would greatly contribute to my introduction when discussing if Anderson has the right to use a culture that is not his own. I could easily use Yoshida's article to show that no, he does not really have the right because he does not give the culture the proper spotlight it deserves.

“Actors.” Data USA, 2015, datausa.io/profile/soc/272011/#demographics.

This is a statistical source about actors in america. It show's statistics and charts for education, employment, diversity, skills, and growth projections. I was most interested in the diversity section of this website because it shows the breakdown of actors in america by race. As of 2014/2015 Asian actors ranked the 3rd most popular race in show business with over 8.27 million actors in america alone. No surprise white actors ranked number 1 with over 107 million actors in america, occupying 74.6% of all actors in the USA. but still there seems to be no shortage of different Asian actors so there must be at least some Japanese actors that Wes Anderson could have used in his movie instead of making most of his cast white in a Japanese style film. This information can be important for my introduction when introducing the problem of whitewashing in my podcast episode. 

Dilley, Whitney crothers. The Cinema of Wes Anderson: Bringing Nostalgia to Life. Columbia University Press, 2017. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/dill18068.

This is an academic source from the YorkU library database. Although its a book, the chapters are broken down into the different movies that Anderson has created and the special qualities about them/what issues each movie addresses. For example chapter three is titled "Gender, Youth, and the Exploration of Masculinity in Bottle Rocket" and Chapter five is titled "The Interplay of Narrative Text, Language, and Film: Literary Influence and Intertextuality in The Royal Tenenbaums". For my podcast I want to do a vignette about the different films from Anderson's past that include other non-white actors portrayed in a poor light, so I believe that i can discuss what people seem to be more concerned with in these movies apart from the racial issues, (for example people are more concerned with the intertextuality of The Royal Tenenbaums but never mention the dodgy racial comments that Royal continually makes). It was extremely hard to find an academic source that I could relate to my podcast directly so this is the closest I could get.

Pieper, Katherine M., et al. “Race & Ethnicity in Independent Films: Prevalence of Underrepresented Directors and the Barriers They Face .” Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism University of Southern California.

This is an American government source (https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/Research-Art-Works-Sundance.pdf) regarding the hardships that different directors face in america. Though it does not directly correlate with Wes Anderson because he is not an underrepresented director it does draw attention to racial issues in Hollywood. This paper draws attention to how difficult it is for directors of different races to get higher budgets that white directors (such as Anderson) would be able to get for the same project. I believe i could use this information possibly in the middle of my podcast when I discuss racial issues in recent media including whitewashing in Isle of dogs and other popular movies, or in my intro or conclusion when educating my listeners on some of Hollywood's race issues.