Ghost In The Shell, Iron Fist and Death Note aren’t problematic because the characters were whitewashed, it’s about the fact that these were great opportunities to showcast Asian American talent yet they refused to even consider them for the roles. No matter how you twist and turn it at the end of the day the entertainment industry can and should do a lot better.
When Third World women are asked to speak representing our racial or ethnic group, we are expected to move, charm or entertain, but not to educate in ways that are threatening to our audiences
Mitsuye Yamada, ‘Invisibility is an Unnatural Disaster: Reflections of an Asian American Woman’, in Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua (eds), This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (New York: Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, 1981), p. 71.
You know, I used to love Scarlett Johansson and she was once my biggest celebrity crush. But after taking the role of Motoko Kusanagi in the Ghost in the Shell movie, which should have gone to Rinko Kikuchi (or at least a Japanese woman), I no longer love or support Scarlett’s work. All I can think about when I see or think of her is how she contributes to racism and white supremacy by whitewashing roles that should go to Asian people, especially Asian women.
One of the major problems with white feminists is that they tend to only care about securing economic status, wealth, and power for others like themselves, which throws Women of Color under the bus because they do not have the privilege to reach such levels. Even if Women of Color do reach such positions, they are attacked and dehumanized simply because of their race. Not only that, but most importantly, singular topics of sexism and economics often ignore or even contribute to racism within white feminist spaces.
Sexism and economics are important topics, yes, but they need to be intersectional and include all kinds of women, especially of different races and etc.
I am talking about what is happening to us right now, about our nonsupport of each other, about our noncaring about each other, about not seeing connections between racism and sexism in our lives. As a child of immigrant parents, as a woman of color in a white society, as a woman in a patriarchal society, what is personal to me is political.
Mitsuye Yamada, “Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism” from This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color