‘The Martian’ Slammed Over ‘White-Washing’ Asian-American Roles

The Martian
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The Media Action Network For Asian-Americans has criticized director Ridley Scott over “white-washing” Asian-American roles in “The Martian.”

The watchdog group, in a statement issued Thursday, said the ethnicities of key characters in the movie are significantly less Asian than their characters in the 2014 novel by Andy Weir.

Scott’s reps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This feel-good movie, which has attracted Oscar buzz, shouldn’t get any awards for casting,” said MANAA founding president Guy Aoki.

MANAA noted that Weir describes NASA’s director of Mars operations Dr. Venkat Kapoor as an Asian-Indian character who identifies religiously as being “a Hindu.” The group pointed out that in Scott’s film, his name is changed to Vincent Kapoor, and he’s played by British black actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who says his father was “a Hindu” but that his mother was “Baptist.”

MANAA also noted that Mindy Park, described by Weir as Korean-American, is played in the movie by Mackenzie Davis, a white, blonde actress.

The group noted that both characters play crucial roles in NASA’s attempt to rescue astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) and work together on the rescue with the director of jet propulsion lab Bruce Ng (played in the film by Benedict Wong).

“Was Ridley Scott not comfortable having two sets of Asian Americans talking to each other?” said Aoki.  “So few projects are written specifically with Asian American characters in them and he’s now changed them to a white woman and black man. This was a great opportunity to give meaty roles to talented Asian American actors — and boost their careers — which would’ve enabled our community to become a greater part of the rescue team.”

MANAA pointed out that Scott had been criticized last year for casting white actors such as Christian Bale and Sigourney Weaver in the lead roles for “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and dark-skinned Middle Easterners in the secondary, servile and villainous parts.

The group cited several other instances of Hollywood movies in which actors portrayed characters who had been Asian-American in the source material, such as “21,” “The Last Airbender,” “Aloha” and the upcoming projects “Ghost in the Shell,” which will star Scarlett Johansson, and “Doctor Strange,” in which Tilda Swinton will portray The Ancient One.

“This insulting practice of white-washing has got to stop,” said MANAA president Aki Aleong. “Alarmingly, it has been increasing in frequency. Today’s audiences expect multi-racial casts in entertainment, as they reflect the multi-cultural environment in which they’ve grown up.  In fact, three of the television series that are doing very well this television season star Asians actors: ‘Fresh off the Boat,’ ‘Quantico,’ and ‘Dr. Ken.'”

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  1. Rahman says:

    Wow congrats on living up to the definition of libtards. In fact this time it is you people who are stereotyping- you assume just because of a person’s name that you can infer their ethnicity?!?

    Kapoor and Park were not stated to be Asian in the book! Not to mention that “Kapoor” is Indian not Asian. So we have *one* single solitary *presumed Asian* person who was cast as a white woman. I guess I should go tell my friend John Park that he is Asian now and take away his driver’s license.

    • B says:

      India is part of Asia and MANAA speaks up for the interests of Indian-Americans as well as Americans of “East Asian” descent. And if you read the article, it says Weir (the author himself) describes Mindy Park as Korean-American. What a predictably thoughtless comment, worthy of Youtube.

  2. Brian says:

    HOLD UP – This article, MANAA, and everyone else posting comments have overlooked the single biggest issue concerning Asian casting in The Martian. What about the two “Chinese” space program directors who couldn’t actually speak real Chinese?!?

    I just watched the movie in China, and everyone in the theater, including myself and my friends, burst out laughing when we heard them speak Mandarin Chinese. The guy’s Mandarin sounded like a foreign exchange student’s, and the woman just read her lines quickly to get them over with, and in a muted tone because she clearly wasn’t confident in her own spoken abilities. How bad was it? Let’s just say, as soon as they opened their mouths it was obvious they weren’t native Chinese – it was pretty embarrassing. Bottom line, No chance in hell these two would’ve even been unpaid interns at the Chinese space program based on how poorly they spoke, let alone be the top directors…

    So, why can’t the film cast actors who actually speak native Mandarin?!? I really don’t know why, but I think it was a massive failure on someone’s part, and to me this is the biggest issue of the ENTIRE FILM. Good movie, a little far-fetched, but rather realistic, but man they really screwed up those two Chinese actors. Rest assured, every Chinese national who has viewed this movie by now (Hollywood is banking that’s a lot..) left the theater wondering why yet another American film cast Chinese people who can’t speak Chinese.

  3. Micky Rosa says:

    Future JPLers come from places like Caltech and MIT. So, what are the demographics of students entering Caltech and MIT? The 2015 Caltech freshman class is 45% Asian; MIT’s is 32%.

    It gets even more extreme for the very top performers in math and science contests. Take a look at the 2015 US Olympiad math team: 75% Asian. 2015 Intel Science Talent Search: 70% Asian. See a pattern?

    Also, the Asian demographic is one of the fastest growing ones in the US today. Those percentages are only going to get higher.

    If you had to predict the demographics of JPL in 2035, the year The Martian takes place in, what would you predict?

    Look at All-Americans in basketball. Would an NBA movie that has one black on the team ring true? That’s Benedict Wong’s Bruce Ng. Would it seem right if the best player on the team was an Asian? That’s Donald Glover’s Rich Purnell.

    Wong’s line “Thanks to my Uncle Tommy in China we got another chance at this.” is cringeworthy. If a line went “Oh, your ancestors are Chinese. Would you happen to know the head of the Chinese space program?” how incredibly unlikely would it be for the answer to be “yes”?

  4. John says:

    The asians are crying? The fn country of china saved the day, thats not asian enough?

    • AndThenWhatt says:

      Crying, sounds like they called out the casting compared to the book as not being authentic. Those of privilege usually don’t understand these things smh.

  5. John says:

    “Oscar buzz” wtf, this is a shit movie, not even science fiction, lame reality, predictable, with anti white male intentions, that aside, its a shit movie

  6. CelluloidFan35mm says:

    Something occured to me. With all the talk about The Martian being whitewashed, The Intern is about as whitewashed as it can get and no one has said anything about that

  7. elizabeth says:

    African Actor playing a Indian?? American’s evil color games are disgusting!! The Portuguese/Arabs brought Africans as slaves into South India – they are the untouchables. American is making enemies with all the major civilizations Arabs,Persians,Russia,China and now India???? Get yourself geographically educated America before its too late.

    • elizabeth is dumb ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°) says:

      you have issues girl

      • You're the ignorant one says:

        Yet another stupid director whitewashing Hollywood. I’m not even gonna watch this film and I like Matt Damon 😔 I refused to support a movie that won’t depict diversity. Fuck this film and I hope it doesn’t win an Oscar.

  8. MM says:

    I watched the whole movie and I didn’t see no Martians. I AM OUTRAGED!

  9. CJ says:

    Fact: “described by Weir as Korean-American” is flat wrong. While I suspect that this was added to this report as this is something MANAA stated they were incorrect in doing so and at no time was Mindy Park’s ethnicity assigned.

    Fact: While being described as a Hindu and named Venkat Kapoor this character was also not specifically assigned a race in the book

    Fact: Even Mark Whattney’s character was not given a racial description

    The above was intentional by Andy Weir who, in a quote directly from the Toronto Film Festival, states:

    “He’s an American. Americans come from lots of different sources!” Weir said. “You can be Venkat Kapoor and black.”

    (the Martian’s premier at the Toronto Film Festival was more than a month ago before this “controversy” arose)

    The only group in the book at all that has a race assigned to them is Zhu Tao and Guo Ming (States they are Chinese). Even Bruce Ng, Head of the Jet Propulsion Lab, was never stated as Asian.

    • Jenna says:

      Fact: Venkat Kapoor is an Indian name. You can consult any Indian person to verify this.

      There are so few roles explicitly written for ethnic minorities. They get excluded from so many movies on the basis that “oh, in the book/comic, these characters were all white so we can’t cast a minority in the film”. So when a character is written with an unambiguously Indian or Asian name, to still insist on not casting someone of that ethnic group is just mind boggling to me.

      And please don’t say that having a black actor play him is just as good. It’s not. Chiwetel Ejiofor is an excellent actor and if they had wanted him in the movie, they could have had him play Jeff Daniels’ role or Sean Bean’s role. Surely those weren’t imagined just as white characters…

    • “He did admit that he’d always pictured Mindy Park as of Korean lineage, but emphasized again that he had never actually explicitly written her as Korean”

      I believe ommiting part is important than partial quotation you write.

      PS: Sorry for duplicate posting. My web browser has frozen.

  10. Jim says:

    I saw an interview with the author who said, they had an Indian actor to play Kapur but he had to back out at the last minute. Also the Mindy Park charactor, I have read the books and listened to the audio and there is nothing to indicate she was Asian. Just because the last name is Park does not mean Asian. I have a buddy who is white and his last name is Park as well.

    • You are wrong says:

      Park is a really common Korean name and no white person has named their kid Mindy in like 90 years. (New Asian immigrants often give their kids names that gave fallen out of fashion for white Americans.)

    • Alan says:

      I read the book so trust me and every other reader when we tell you Mindy Park was not white in the book lol. Not even close.

      • CJ says:

        Park is also a British name FYI and please, don’t speak on behalf of the millions of readers who you do not know and will not meet. You and yours friends in like minded areas probably have strikingly little in commons with some of the fans from Venezuela or Greece. Don’t confuse “everyone” with “everyone I know.”

  11. Ernesto Zavala says:

    How do you whitewash movies by featuring a black actor from Africa and another black actor as the astro dynamics expert. Plus A Mexican, plus the Asian who takes a hell of a lot of screen time in the Cisco teleconference.. Seriously..
    That’s a moot point in the movie

  12. Jim says:

    Never heard of someone calling the casting of a black actor in a role as “white washing”, lol. I guess by their reasoning, all characters in books that are white should only be played by white actors in movies based on the book. All these whiny PC police have done is deepen the racial divide in the country and reinforce the idea that race should be the primary consideration in decisions.

  13. Bill says:

    Book, film, two different things and more manufactured outrage.

  14. Jamie Smith says:

    Are you kidding not enough Asians in the movie? F-off and get a life.

  15. Ws says:

    What do you expect Asians are treated like third class citizens in the US. More reason for all Asian Americans to band together and secede from the rest of the states.

    • S says:

      Grow up, you self-important baby. Asians make up 6% of the population – Asians made up a hell of a lot more than 6% of the film casting. You are not special. You are self indulgent and creat manufactured victimization to fuel your idiocy. Grow up.

  16. John Maguire. says:

    I waited 90 minutes and no Martian

  17. Vanamali says:

    What people are missing here is that this a question of jobs – hollywood is very hard to get into, lots of even successful actors might go years without getting any work. We do understand that discrimination exists everywhere – just common sense. If you are an american or indian trying to make it in China, you might find the top roles reserved for chinese, in India it is for Indians, Nigeria for nigerians or blacks and so on. But countries like the US have attracted a lot of immigrants from all over the world and yet Hollywood and TV remain “whites only” – we see that on TV shows back in the 50’s and 60’s and unfortunately even today!
    Here’s the problem when it comes to jobs – take the show “Friends” – all 6 major characters are white, ok no problem but wait, all these characters have parents, uncles, family – guess what all will be white, small roles but that is exactly what a struggling actor will get – that is his or her resume! The girl who played the ditsy character was especially lucky – the actors who played her brother, father and boy-friends all have gained a footing on tv or movies. If at least one character was black, that would have opened the door to 10 other blacks – but just as we see in society, rampant racism exists. That is why this hurts – in the recent star trek movie, we have the Khan character being played by a British guy! Really! Kinda like the olden days when they used to put brown or black paint on white actors – makes me sick to watch those shows
    The religion “white-washing” was the one that really bothered me – why not let him remain a Hindu? Is that a crime? Amazing to see such open religious hate. FYI if you have a chance go look up “Missamma” a Telugu movie on youtube – this was a 50’s movie from India – as you know India is heavily Hindu – in it the heroine, a christian, sings a christian devotional song! Yes you read that right – in a heavy Hindu country a christian devotional song! Here in the US, almost 70 years later, i cringe when i see something Hindu come on – i know what’s coming – something mocking, derogatory, abusive, a “joke” – in a way i guess i should be thankful that they didn’t make the guy a Hindu, that would have meant i would have to see something abusive and mocking
    Had plans to see the movie – I like Matt Damon – but will not do so after reading this article

    • CJ says:

      Won’t argue your point simply state that limiting yourself from, as very many have agreed, an excellent Hard Science Fiction movie purely your are against the racial basis of the casting (despite both roles being fulfilled by quality actors with proven resumes) seems to only to be to your own detriment as you will not get to partake in an effective movie.

    • timber72 says:

      Oh. Puh. Leaze. Hollywood is a STALWART of socialistic liberalism, which means it is the very last place on earth that would be guilty of “rampant racism.” It’s beyond ludicrous to even claim that. In Hollywood, you find little but leftist, socialist “do-gooders” who would sooner slit their wrists than be labeled a “racist.”

      And yet, you think racism is “rampant” in Hollywood? Get real! The only racism that exists in Hollywood is the far, far, FAR more dangerous racism of lowered expectations. THAT kind of racism is, indeed, rampant, and it infects the left like a cancer.

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        Dumber72, oh, really??? With all that profit Hollywood makes here and overseas, they are “socialist”??? LOL You wouldn’t know socialism if it bit your pimpled ass!

        Now, git back to your Limbo the Cheese reruns. I think the estrogen commercial is OVER.

  18. Robert says:

    If Asians can’t drive cars, why would they even attempt to go to Mars?

  19. GimmeBaconRightTFNOW says:

    Talk about reading too far into things.

    • ChrisDC says:

      Honestly, I don’t think they’re doing that. Look, especially, at the second to the last paragraph.

      You’re coming into a long-standing conversation/debate. Any one of those occurrences, in and of itself, doesn’t mean much and if it were just once, I’d be inclined to agree with you. But, to give you an idea of how long this has been going on, you could go all the way back to Howard Hughes’ decision to cast John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror in 1956. And probably further.

      There’s an “Oh, give me a break! Again?” or, possibly, a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back aspect to this of which you might not be aware.

      Anyway, thanks for considering this.

  20. shawnhill says:

    I imagined Mindy as white when reading the book, before seeing the film. And can you really “whitewash” with black actors? Also there was a major Asian role in the film, in the director of the JPL. Why is his great performance being discounted? Not to mention the two Chinese characters who spoke only Chinese? This is not the right film to get weird about the casting, which by any standard was diverse.

    • Alan says:

      How did you envision Mindy to be white when they specifically describe her as not white with black hair. Perhaps your reading comprehension is the real issue.

      • yosafbridge says:

        No, they didn’t. She didn’t get any description in the book. She was never described as having dark hair or being non white. She was literally only described as female and college educated. No physical description whatsoever. None of them had a physical description. We never even got Mark Whatneys hair color or race for that matter.

    • Glen says:

      No one should be invisible.

  21. Anna says:

    If the Walking Dead can bring in some of the highest ratings, you know that the American Public can handle diversity. heck, so many of us were reared on watching Sesame Street. Diversity doesn’t scare people off, I don’t understand why Hollywood doesn’t get this.

    • John says:

      Have you seen the movie? A VERY diverse cast. Somebody is ALWAYS going to get butthurt. That is the world we live in today.

  22. exne says:

    Maybe Ridley Scott doesn’t like certain types of people, and maybe this is why. Can we get a change.org petition going to make him fond of people who attack him in the press?

  23. Uh oh someone’s getting their feelings hurt again. Turn up the hyper sensitivity meter.

  24. Joe Roth says:

    People/Directors/Producers pick actors because they like them.

  25. wolframandhart says:

    That is a complete lie to say that Mindy Park was described as a Korean American by Weir in the book. I’ve actually read the book and there is no mention of her race. This group is assuming that she’s Korean solely by her surname, which I think is racist on their part to do so. And BTW, before anyone accuses me in turn of racism, I am Filipino-Chinese in descent.

    • therealeverton says:

      I’m willing to bet you have. If you’re going to complain about an English name you should at least know so.e thing about them and their history. Like you know Smith as in Blacksmith or some such other smithy. Driver,Carpenter etc. All related to your “job”. In the case of Park it can also just mean you lived near one. “I’m looking for John ” – Which one” John of the Park” ; that kind of thing.

      Also ever hear of Star Wars? The cool looking double lights are guy, Darts Maul, that’s Ray Park. He’s also Toad in X-Men. Multiple Oscar and BAFTA winner of Wallace & Grommet fame is another Englishman called Nick Park.

      So no, Park is a famous old English name and to many far more easily recognised as English than Korean.

    • asdf says:

      1. I have never seen any white who has ‘Park’ as last name. Park is the third most common last name in Korea after Kim and Lee, and its roots are traced back to royalty of the Silla dynasty.

      2. You are a racist and probably jealous of successful Koreans that are around you.

      • Tanski says:

        What about Ray Park that actor who played Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace? He’s Caucasian and his last name is Park. I read the book and there is no physical description of Mindy so you just assume that everyone in the whole world knows Park is a common Korean name? I understand being upset over a movie like The Last Air Bender where white washing is obvious but this is kind of reaching.

      • Bill says:

        I know a fair number of them simply because Koreans sometimes (gasp!) marry Caucasians.

        I am Korean so I guess that makes me prejudiced against myself.

  26. Adam Hellerud says:

    If you wanna see a great Sci-Fi movie with Asian actors, watch Sunshine.

  27. CelluloidFan35mm says:

    Prepare yourselves for another probe by the Feds on Asian discrimination in Hollywood next.
    Then African-Americans, then Hispanics…
    It seems these none of these groups will ever work together to accomplish a common goal.
    It is all about themselves.

  28. OB says:

    Sorry, MANAA… your argument here is weak and desperately trying to leap off of the sentiment for the casting of Scott’s last film. For the record, I could see the point of the argument regarding EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS… Christian Bale, Joel Egerton and Ben Mendelsohn, while excellent actors, were well out of place in that setting, but I also understand the (fiscal) reason behind the decision. Would Scott have gotten the $150 million it takes to make an epic of that size today with, say, Djimon Huonsou in the lead? Highly unlikely.

    But yeah… in this instance, it just reeks of a publicity ploy. The organization needed to up their awareness factor. I’d actually never heard of MANAA until today.

    As far as the casting of THE MARTIAN goes, I’d say it was pretty good. Lots of people in the film of varied ethnicities – from Chastain to Donald Glover to Benedict Wong and the actors who played the heads of the Chinese space program.

    Publicity, That’s all.

  29. BillUSA says:

    This is what happens when you begin to kowtow to ethnic groups – everybody wants a role. Now, I’m not at all suggesting that the change in one role is the right thing to do. Personally, I don’t like such changes in any movie or for any reason. Stick to the source. If you gotta change something then your skills as a scriptwriter need improvement.

    Nick Fury is black and this Caucasian has no problem at all with it. Sure, I’d be happier if he remained white to maintain continuity or consistency with the established universe, but casting him as a black man is for our time. But that doesn’t mean it should be done for the sake of doing it. Samuel L. Jackson brings gravitas to the part I find satisfying not only as a viewer, but as a former comic-book reader in the 1960’s.

    So yes, I’m treading a fine line here. The Asians should perhaps make their own production of the novel or that of any others which would include changing the ethnicity of characters. Ain’t the first time it would happen.

    • squck says:

      Nobody’s kowtowing to anybody hear—they simply made a statement about it, that’s all.

    • therealeverton says:

      You’re misinformed about Nick Fury. Having Samuel L Jackson play him IS in line with continuity. The Ultimate Universe for Marvel comics has a black Nick Fury, he is drawn to resemble Samuel L Jackson and is even written to “speak” like him. In one issue of the comic there is an ultimates (The Avengers name in that universe) due to be made and they al pick who they want to play them; Fury says nobody but S. L. Jackson would do.

      The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the many alternate realities for Marvel. It is is own thing and has elements of both the original (616) comics and the Ultimate comics AND whatever the writers decide they may like to add. Continuity is both easily maintained as they can draw from any existing version of the characters, and not an issue because as a new Universes they can make any alterations they wish and not be out of continuity as there is NO continuity for it to follow.

  30. H Torch says:

    If the Human Torch can be black, and we’re not allowed to complain, what the heck does this matter?!

    • Glen says:

      Well some black people complained. Me fore one. He should have been a tall, white blonde, And Sue should never have been Latino. But being true to a vision gets a bit scrambles when commerce enters the picture, eh?

    • That example should serve as evidence to the point MANAA is making, but appeals to their wallets. Look how well it went! It’s not racist to want the white characters white, the asian characters asian, and so on.

      Funny how the white guys who protest the black Human Torch are racist while MANAA doing the same thing is standing up for itself.

      We can make it very easy by taking that step out of it! Everyone remains how they’re supposed to be depicted! Period. Voila!

      • therealeverton says:

        You’re generalising. If you look at any of those sites where people were moaning about the torch thing and you WILL find plenty of racist comments and racists. That doesn’t mean everyone who had an issue with it was racist and/or being racist: But yeah, a lot of people wer called racist because that is exactly what they were.

        If you come across people complaining about this using racist and abusive language you can come to the same conclusion about those people. There’s no blanket 1 size fits all here.

    • therealeverton says:

      There is a world of difference between taking 1 of 100 white male characters and making them non-white or female AND taking one of only 10 non-white characters and masking them white.Mathematically alone it is nowhere near a bad. But added to the maths is he fact that characters like the 2nd human Torch were created when there was a massive lack of civil rights and having too many, or too prominent black characters was a bad idea if you wanted shops to stock your comics and people to advertise in them. The police were beating kids trying to go to school; so the “imbalance” was artificial. The original Star Trek had a woman as the second in conman of the Enterprise. The episode had the captain rapped off ship for most of the time, leaving the woman in charge and giving all the orders. They had to bin that idea as the money men simply didn’t think a woman giving orders to men was a good idea.

      The two issues simply are not the same at all.

  31. filmsharks says:

    Benedict Wong plays the lead engineer at JPL and has been in other Ridley Scott films. How is that whitewashing? This is Scott’s best film in years and a diversity group has to throw the race card at him. Hogwash.

    • therealeverton says:

      Because they have not researched apparently.

      The Indian character was turned into a black one, not whitewashing, but still a change they maybe didn’t have to make: Of course arguing against casing the level of quality that is Ejiofor is tricky.

      The Korean character was apparently cast in error as the casting agency only had the name and sex of the character and assumed she was white. That’s certainly plausible.

  32. Chizz says:

    In films produced in China how many African or Indian actors are cast?

    In films produced in India, how many African or Asian actors are cast?

    In films produced in Iran, how many African, Indian, or Asian actors are cast?

    I guess it’s only worth complaining about racism and diversity if your target is white people in America.

    • therealeverton says:

      Try again, but this time compare like with like. Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong produced films often had non Oriental characters in them. What you have to look at is in culturally diverse countries, like the U>K what representation is there of what you see f you look out of the window.

      More to the point, if one of the main characters in Journey to the West is Indian and a Chinese film switches that character to Japanese, or Chinese, that might be a questionable decision. But if they’re making a film that has 100% Chinese characters, why would there be characters that weren’t Chinese there?

    • John says:

      Fully Agree. All these Asian people complaining about racism discrimination, how about those Asian people mocking and criticizing Caucasians??? Oh, it’s okay for Asians to call out White people for racism, but it’s not okay for White people to call out Asians for racism??? The last I checked Asians are the most populated race on earth – they should be the most RACIST people on earth.

      • squck says:

        Uh, you’re totally twisting the situation around to something it isn’t even about. This is about how roles for Asian-Americans get rewritten into white roles, which happens all the time. I hate it whenever the topic of race comes up, some white people always want to turn it around and act like people of color should STFU and never say anything about racism. Believe me, most of us would rather go through our lives without ever having to deal with racism, but we’re never had a choice in the matter—that’s always been a reality for us. So complaining about us pointing it out is ridiculous in itself, and a waste of breath on your part. We’re sure as hell not going to shut up talking about racism just because you don’t like it. If you don’t like it, too d*** bad. Who cares?

      • kgbdk says:

        I don’t think you used enough question marks there, John.

  33. therealeverton says:

    They seriously need to use a different “name” when one of characters has switched to a black man. What’s wrong with race change, or colour change? Not soundbitey enough?

  34. herrumph says:

    Let me guess… the people tired of this kind of complaint also worry over China’s influence in Hollywood interfering with artistic integrity. Pretty hypocritical since Hollywood has a history of violating artistic integrity of the original source material.

  35. Jacques Strappe says:

    It is what is. Every group and every individual has just as much right to an opinion as anyone. Not being Asian and not having read the book the film is based on, I really can’t comment other than saying the 24/7 internet culture we live in makes it easier (not necessarily better or worse) for anyone or any one group to voice opinions of support or criticism. I try not to automatically dismiss these opinions as bogus or unfounded if I don’t agree or don’t have enough information.

  36. eddie willers says:

    I am getting so sick of all this constant whining.

    • k says:

      Why? Is it because it actually makes you think for once in your life? Dumbass.

    • peterwdawson says:

      Well then maybe encourage people to not whitewash?

      • Yak says:

        Peter Dawson the character is Fictional. Would you have a problem if its the other way around. Like say Morgan Freeman in Shawshank?

        Thats why ill never agree with that kind of thinking. If the character is FICTIONAL. Every actor of any race should have a shot at it. Which is why I have no problem if Idris Elba plays James Bond or that Jason Mamoa is playing Aquaman.

      • peterwdawson says:

        It’s a situational thing really. If the character is named and written to be a certain ethnicity, why skewer away from it? No good implications come from that skewering, especially in a Hollywood where several minorities basically have to campaign to get more roles. Now James Bond you can make an exception for since he was always meant to be kind of a chameleon character, ditto some other examples I’m sure (just off the top of my head Robert Neville from I Am Legend). Hell with Bond they basically established the chameleon thing as far back as Roger Moore, since his hair alone saw a deviation from the black-haired look Bond had carried up to that point.

        As for the other way around argument, there’s several problems with it. It’s assuming equality already exists, when it doesn’t, and that’s why it’s an issue at all. Also, to bring it back to the chameleon argument: if the character’s race or gender in no way play an impact on the character, and the character doesn’t have an iconic look, there’s no reason to not just leave it open. Heck in some cases recasting for a certain ethnicity makes more sense, such as the case in Shawshank where, unfortunately, there’s a lot of African-Americans in jail. Even then Freeman still acknowledges the character’s Irish roots.

      • Yak says:

        Whitewash? One of the actors they are complaining about being cast is Chiwetel Ejoifor a black man.

      • peterwdawson says:

        And the other one isn’t. Chiwetel’s casting isn’t exactly ideal when the character is supposed to be Indian but they at least somewhat acknowledged the character’s intended heritage. In his case though, true, the correct term would be Racial Miscasting.

  37. David says:

    This doesn’t just happen to Asian-Americans it also happens to Latinos (ex Ben Affleck in Argo) and other movies with other ethnicities. The truth is, in America they want to preserve their “white” image despite how multicultural it’s become. How else can you explain other countries with their obsession to look “white” (ex Japan, India, Mexico etc). If American media portrayed other ethnicities as heroic, friendly, humorous, beautiful as their “white” counterparts, then self esteem levels would increase throughout the world.

    • Chizz says:

      Ah, yes, because the self-esteem of people around the world should be the American media’s top priority.

      • Anonymous says:

        It seems like maintaining the excessive self esteem of certain types of Americans is their top priority. The question may be how long everyone else is willing to pay for that.

    • Dave says:

      It has nothing to do with “preserving their white image”…’Hollywood’ doesn’t have some white supremacist agenda….They don’t give a fuck what race their actors are from a racism standpoint…what they care about is money….and it all comes down to the statistics. If the statistics show that they make more money with white actors in lead roles, that’s what they go with….The same goes for the lack of black actors in lead roles in hollywood films (though this is changing)……The numbers don’t lie….those movies make less money. It’s the same reason they keep making sequels, remakes, and franchise movies. As long as the money keeps coming in for Transformers, they’ll keep shitting them out. Money influences most big decisions in Hollywood. It is a business, after all.

  38. IT 2 IT says:

    SO- – –SO TIRED.


  39. Jen says:

    Check your writing please,Variety — you have two different names for the president of MANAA. Without question, Asian Americans are under-represented in Hollywood. Simply stating this very obvious fact regarding this movie is not “white bashing”.

    • Yak says:

      Im Asian my self and i rolled my eyes at this. Chiwetel Ejiofor is well known and is one of the best actors we have today. Thats why he won the role. I think Asian Actors need to step up if they want more roles in movies. In a age where its so easy to make movies and get people to see them. Why dont we have more Asian Actors taking chances. Like making some very good independent films, giving a great acting performance and getting some respect. The only person i see do that was Justin Lin. But i have yet to see an Asian Actor deliver a great performance in a Independent film. Are they even trying? Chiwetel became a mainstream actor by being one of the best stage actors in the UK. He didnt beg a Hollywood Exec to cast him. If Asian Actors want mainstream roles they need to grab the bull by the horns and force these white execs to notice them.

      • Yak says:

        Kgbdk You do know “Better Luck Tomorrow” was an INDEPENDENT FILM right? Which is what ive been saying the whole time. Asian artist need to do more on the Independent Film scene. When I said they need to step up. Im talking about them stepping on the INDEPENDENT FILM SCENE. Yes Im fully aware that we need Asian Directors, Producers like Justin Lin. The problem is there hasnt been a film like Better Luck Tomorrow in a while. That film was ten years ago. Why dont we have another one. Where is the next Justin Lin?

      • kgbdk says:

        If you were able to understand what I wrote, I stated that since black artists were in charge of projects like 12 Years a Slave and Straight Outta Compton, as producers, writers and directors, they gave young black actors an opportunity to prove themselves. They made the most of their opportunities, which I commend them for. But the actors had nothing to do with creating those projects. If Straight Outta Compton didn’t exist, nobody would know who Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are. They would probably have to work as character actors for years without getting a shot at any lead roles.

        The issue here is that you asked “Why don’t we have more Asian actors taking chances?” It’s not about the actors. This is an issue with Asian-American filmmakers ie. writers, directors, producers, etc. They need to improve the quality and depth of the films being made so that when the parts have depth and an Asian perspective that is sorely lacking in Hollywood and the film industry today.

      • kgbdk says:

        Your sentiment is misplaced. You are implying that Asian-American actors are simply not trying hard or that they are not talented enough. This is an age where it is easier to make movies but it is definitely not easy to get people to see them, and it is even harder to make money with the glut of films in distribution. What you should really be rooting for is Asian writers and directors to reach the studio level where they are in charge of casting decisions, story development and rewrites. As I was saying, when you have filmmakers like Justin Lin consistently giving opportunities to actors like Sung Kang, Leonardo Nam, John Cho, etc, look at how successful John Cho has become since Better Luck Tomorrow. He’s playing Sulu on Star Trek, had a short-lived sitcom Selfie, was the title character in Harold and Kumar, and has a bright future ahead of him. Sung Kang co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in Bullet in the Head. Ken Watanabe, Jackie Chan and Jet Li were already huge stars in their home countries before they became successful in Hollywood.

        Back in the 90’s, Lucy Liu and Margaret Cho had reached some level of success. Joan Chen, Michelle Yeoh, etc. Nowadays, you have Maggie Q. But very few of those actresses have gotten to play characters with any kind of cultural depth because the material and writers were only interested in making them sexual companions for their male leads. Tang Wei in Blackhat was basically just a plaything for Chris Hemsworth, as was Gong Li for Colin Farrell in Miami Vice. God forbid that Asian actresses have an Asian male romantic interest.

        There is a new generation of filmmakers that are interested in presenting Asian characters are real nuanced people. Not merely throwing Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai all together into one group. Understanding the vast differences and casting those parts accurately. Not just Asian in appearance, but with the same struggles that we experience in real life. Try watching Advantageous directed by Jennifer Phang, which won an award at Sundance this year. Asian leads in an intelligently written cautionary tale. I’m also working on a noir thriller with a predominantly Vietnamese cast. It’s frustrating for me to see my talented actors get scraps offered to them when their white counterparts are taking all the lead roles. What I’m telling you is that Asian actors can’t create great performances if they can’t even audition for those parts.

      • Yak says:

        Kgdk Straight Outta Compton was produced by Ice Cube and Dr Dre. So you saying they were given oppurtunities doesnt apply. Since they werent given oppurtunities at all. They made their own oppurtunities. Which is what Asians here in North America needs to start doing. Like what ive been saying the whole time. But you instead call me ignorant for saying it.

        Take Tyler Perry for example. He produces all his films himself. He wasnt kneeling at the doorsteps of White Hollywood Execs and begging them to produce his films.

        Asians want oppurtunities in the film industry. They need to start making their own like African Americans did.

        The battle is just beginning? Sorry but this battle should have started in the 1910s. I bet people dont even know that the biggest star in Hollywood in that time was Asian.

      • Yak says:

        Kgdk how am i being ignorant? Because i want Asian Actors to step up and not rely on these White Hollywood Execs to throw us a bone every now and then. That they need to make their own films and act in them and give the best performances they can in them. Well if that makes me ignorant then Asians are doomed.

      • Yak says:

        Brad i didnt say they arent any talented Korean or Indian actors out there. Your putting words into my mouth. I clearly said i dont see many asian actors breaking out in independent films that much. Which is where white execs in hollywood dont have much say over. If there are talented asian actors why arent they taking advantage of Independent films now that the age of on-demand and internet streaming is taking over the film industry. And when im talking about asian actors im talking about here in America or Canada.

        Yes im fully aware of talented people overseas like Venkat Kapoor and Bae Doona. I think Ken Watanbe is one of the best actors working today. Again i didnt say they arent talented asian actors out there. But the problem with international actors is they have commitments in their own countries. So its not like they can be cast in every role.

        Brad your comment about Steve Jobs being played by Forest Whitaker makes no sense. Steve Jobs is a real person so of course someone of color cant play him. That has zero in common with what happened in The Martian since every character in the film is FICTIONAL. Hence people of any race can play them. Which is why i have no problem if Idris Elba played James Bond or Morgan Freeman played Red in Shawshank. So if a fictional character that is originally written as a White Man instead gets cast as Asian instead. Will you complain about that too? See thats where double standards comes in.

        I brought up Justin Lin because hes a perfect example of someone who started in the Indies made a name for himself there and is know one of the most in-demand film directors in Hollywood. Which i feel is the blueprint that Asian Actors need to follo if we hope to have more Asian Actors being cast here in North America. Something that Im not seeing.

      • kgbdk says:

        This is a pretty ignorant point of view. Knowing many Asian American actors personally, I can tell you it’s not a lack of talent but a lack of lead roles that hold them back from recognition. The only Asian actors who have lead roles in any studio films these days are John Cho and Sung Kang. And one of the main reasons why they do is because of the success of Justin Lin’s films like Fast and the Furious. Lin basically handed off F&F to another Asian director, James Wan. You think Sung Kang would’ve hooked up with Gal Gadot aka Wonder Woman if Justin Lin wasn’t directing? Until Asians are writing roles for Asian actors, we won’t see nuanced characters where their ethnicity means anything. Black actors like Chiwetel and Lupita N’yongo had Steve McQueen and John Ridley write the lead roles in 12 Years a Slave. F. Gary Gray directed one of the potential Oscar films, Straight Outta Compton, giving young black actors some of the best roles of the year to play. You are completely delusional if you think that Asian actors have the same kind of opportunities and roles to play. I actually have a lot of respect for black filmmakers and actors. They’ve had to fight tooth and nail for decades to earn respect and quality non-stereotypical roles. The fight for Asian American artists is just beginning.

      • Brad says:

        uhh… are trying to say there are no Indian or South Korean actors out there trying? u realize how ignorant that sounds right? There are tons of Asian actors, talented, fluent in English, and trying super hard to get cast. You don’t think when Asian roles open up every one is trying to get it because there are just so few. And when they give it to someone who is under-qualified, and yes i’m saying under-qualified because they’re the wrong ethnicity. Just like wont see Forest Whitaker cast as Steve Jobs just because hes a brilliant actor, why are they casting different races for Asian roles? just on top of my head they could of used Irrfan Khan as Venkat Kapoor, hes won a lot of awards and hes been in Life of Pi, Jurassic World, Spiderman, and billions of other Bollywood movies. For Mindy Park they could of used Bae Doona.. she also has tons of awards and was in Cloud Atlas, the Host, Jupiter Ascending and an array of Korean movies. 2 Great actors that could of played those parts well but they gave it someone of dominate race because its more comfortable to see on screen. Its cool, maybe next year someone can dig Mickey Rooney out of his grave when they’re looking for an Japanese actor or something.

        Also Justin Lin is a director not an actor.

      • wiles11 says:

        Interesting point of view. I found myself siding with the protesters on this one until I read Yak’s comment and thought about all the performances I’ve seen by Asian-Americans and Asian-Canadians in independent movies from the past several years and I have to agree, there hasn’t really been any performances where I’d say the actors were truly pushing outside their comfort zones, even when the screenplays provided them with meaty characters and situations. This isn’t to say that any Asian-American actors are bad, though. Quite the opposite, they’re uniformly quite good for the most part — perhaps a bit TOO uniform — but it’s hard to remember any that gave Oscar-calibre performances or otherwise bared their souls on camera. The gravitas seems missing in relation to actors from other cultures. Don’t know why that is. Worse, Asians and whites just seem to fit interchangeably in a lot of roles, but it does few favours for the Asians it seems.

        Odd that the Asian groups bring up whitewashing in casting more than any other group, but it’s true that it probably happens because not enough of them have stepped up their game.

  40. Same thing with Aloha. Meh, Hollywood doesn’t want/care about Asian American dollars at the theaters~

    • squck says:

      It’s not that Asian-American actors haven’t stepped up their game—-they simply don’t get the full range of opportunities to show what they can really do actingwise as much as their white counterparts do,plain and simple. The same thing is true for black actors/actresses and other actors of color.

  41. Terence Saunders says:

    But it’s perfectly fine to change white characters to minorities and no one says a word. See ‘I Am Legend’ for a good example.

    • therealeverton says:

      Is there seriously anyone still ignorant enough NOT to know the difference between change the dominant sex / race / religion to a lesser represented one is NOT comparable to changing 1 of a small number of roles for the lesser represented to the dominant one?

      Changing a white male character to a non white AND/OR female one is not even remotely close to switching it to the other way around.

      Simple example. Kirk – 1, Bones – 2, Spock – 3, Chekhov – 4 Scotty- 5, Sulu – 6, Uhura – 7. Spock is an alien, but he’s a white alien.

      So out of 7 characters (and remember Star Trek fought tooth and nailto get even that “few” non white / female “leads” in the show in the 1960s!) there are 6 men, 2 non-white characters.

      So whilst changing Scotty would eliminate a massive part of his character (and yes there have been plenty of non-white people in Scotland for generations so a Sikh, or Pakistani, or Afro-Caribbean Scotty is plausible) you can see that changing one of the white men to a black woman, or an Oriental woman doesn’t do that much. But making Uhura a man, and a white man, leaves you with NO black people AND NO women.

      That’s a microcosm of the whole situation an that is one of the prime reasons why it is nowhere NEAR the same changing from white and white male to something else,compared to changing a “minority” to white

      That’s not even addressing the years of racial discrimination and oppression that led to even “progressive / inclusive” companies / producers like Gene Roddenberry and Marvel comics from having “too many” strong female ad black characters (for starters). Your pilot getting turned down, advertisers leaving you and vendors not selling comics / books with black people on the cover was a real concern.

    • Catherine says:

      Wow, congrats. You’re able to name one example of that happening and proceed to dismiss the epidemic of white-washing in hollywood. This is the ‘I have one black friend so I’m not racist’ dismissal of white-washing. You found it!

  42. Edu says:

    I mean, I’m all for diversity both in and out of film, but this is getting ridiculous.

  43. Jane says:

    An Indian actor was invited to play the role of Kapoor but was unavailable. Andy Weir has talked about how Mindy Park was interpreted by the casting directors as being white (there were no indicators in the script). There is no issue.

    • hasdibravo says:

      MANAA really twisted Andy Weir’s words. This is what he actually said.

      “Mindy Park is Korean in my mind, and not in the film, because Park is also an English surname. They didn’t know she was meant to be Korean.”

    • Catherine says:

      What kind of dismissive thinking… Park is a KOREAN last name. That alone should’ve clued in these dumbfucks. Of course, you can’t expect anything less from the same director that whitewashed ancient egypt.

      • Michael Do says:

        Lee is also a Korean name? So does that mean the confederate Civil War general Robert E. Lee is Korean?

      • therealeverton says:

        Park isn’t a Korean name. How can you not know that?

      • wiles11 says:

        Are you nuts? Park is NOT just a Korean name, especially spelled in English that way. It’s like Lee, for gawd’s sake. White people have ALSO had BOTH of these names for centuries, completely independently of the Koreans (AND the Chinese in the case of Lee/Li/Rhee). Get. Over. Yourself.

  44. Holly says:

    Ugh. And anybody really cares, why?

    Besides, Hollywood is always pushing race with their movies. Just because Selma only got 2 Oscar nomininations (and a win), doesn’t mean that diversity is dead. Also, bashing white people is going to help anything. It’ll make matters worse.

    • CelluloidFan35mm says:

      You have a point there. I’m not going to blame or put down an entire race because of a few bad apples ruining it for everyone and bashing white people is racist too.

    • peterwdawson says:

      Because it’s been insanely symptomatic, plus we’re looking at a movie with a huge ensemble. You’ve already got a bunch of talented, bankable actors in the film, and a bankable director, doing a movie based on a popular novel. They could have taken at least a bit of a ‘risk’ here and featured a couple of Asian actors, maybe help them build up a reputation by being in this movie so they can become bankable themselves and the old problem of there not being enough bankable Asian actors becomes less true.

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