“While yellowface representations may give us an externalized image to let us know what non-Asian Americans think of Asians and Asian Americans, it is not an Asian American self-representation. 'Yellowface logics,' then, are the logics that assume it is okay for the dominant mainstream to project an image of Asians and Asian Americans that it finds interesting, amusing, demeaning, off-putting, or simply worth projecting. It is the image projected outward for popular consumption, consideration, or discussion--the logic that privileges dominant stereotypes and representations over Asian and Asian American self-representations. The projection of yellowface logics offers up a mask of a people as a definition of the peoples themselves.”—Kent A. Ono and Vincent N. Pham, Asian Americans and the Media
I just started watching Legend of Korra, and all I can hear and see are the white people voicing all the characters. I hate hate hate when animated productions show so much diversity in their characters but none whatsoever in their voice actors. Like, I can tell immediately whether someone is from an Asian family or not from the subtleties that come with growing up around an Asian language. So it’s disarming to hear the voice of a white person coming out of an Asian face (And I CRINGE every time anyone butchers an Asian word. There was absolutely no attempt to look up how to correctly pronounce yuan, which is constantly in use. Daniel Dae Kim messed it up too, giving it a Korean pronunciation, but at least his Japanese pronunciation is pretty solid. But legit, why weren’t they all given some training on this stuff?).
It just feels like a lesser form of yellowface.
Because 99.9% of the time, Asians and other POC are only allowed to voice characters of their own race, but for whites, it’s a free-for-all. Hell, we’re not even allowed to portray our racist-ass stereotyped representations. In the case of Korra, Daniel Dae Kim (5 episodes) and Dante Basco (3 episodes) are the only Asians on the IMDB page. And Asami’s voice actress Seychelle Gabriel (9 episodes), who is of Mexican, Italian, and French ancestry, is the only other visible POC. Asians are barely even allowed to play themselves in live action roles, but it’s even worse with animated roles.