What do Japanese people think of Caucasian—not Asian—actors being cast in Hollywood adaptations of Japanese anime?
Hollywood loves to use source material from other countries in making movies, and that’s not always a problem. But recent casting decisions concerning upcoming adaptations of anime such as Ghost in the Shell and Death Note have resulted in complaints of whitewashing from certain corners, and a great many others expressed their surprise that the roles were not given to actors of Asian descent.
But what does the average guy or girl on the street in Japan think about the issue? YouTuber That Japanese Man Yuta conducted a street interview to find out what regular Japanese people think of Hollywood’s questionable casting.
The video begins with the Japanese interviewees giving their opinion on the casting of caucasian actress Scarlett Johansson in the role of Motoko Kusanagi for the Hollywood live-action version of classic Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell. Most interviewees reacted positively to the casting decision, justifying the choice and deeming her a good fit because the movie is based on an anime, wherein many characters have somewhat Caucasian features.
When discussing why a white actress was chosen for an Asian part, the interviewees suggest a viewpoint that has often been expressed in this type of situation: in Hollywood, white actors are a bigger box office draw than asian actors.
When asked to imagine why some people are upset at the casting choice, the interviewees failed to identify the real cause, instead suggesting that audiences might have “wanted a better actress” (but who doesn’t love ScarJo?!).
Yuta then takes a moment to explain the reason behind the recent online backlash resulting from these types of casting decisions—that they are possibly an example of marginalisation of Hollywood minority actors—and the interviewees mull this new information over, with some suggesting that it’s an example of unfair discrimination if Asian actors aren’t at least considered.
However, the prevailing opinion expressed is that the best actor should be chosen for the part, regardless of ethnicity.
It’s important to remember here that the issue at hand is relevant to Asian actors in Hollywood, where they remain a minority. Japanese people in Japan are decidedly not in a minority (since Japan is 98.5% ethnically Japanese) and therefore many will never have had the experience of being marginalised themselves. Their views on this issue are therefore shaped by their own personal experiences, which do not necessarily correlate with those of Asian-American actors who not only often find themselves pigeonholed into one-dimensional Asian-only roles, but are also sometimes deprived of opportunity when roles which an actor of Asian descent could reasonably be expected to be in demand for are instead given to Caucasian actors.
What do you think of the video? Are any of the reactions surprising to you at all?
Source, images: YouTube/That Japanese Man Yuta