CNN: “Hollywood Steals Asian Jobs for Whites”


CNN has been reporting controversial complaints about Hollywood’s unwavering propensity to plunder Asian anime and cinema and recast all the characters as whites, quoting complaints that this amounts to “stealing the jobs of Asian actors and insulting their origins.”

From a recent CNN Japan article:

In the US, anime enjoys much popularity and many anime works are being adapted into movies by Hollywood. However, in most cases the cast is repainted entirely white. Criticism of this practice amongst anime fans and civic groups is growing.

Warner Brothers currently has two such projects underway – one is an adaptation of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s [Yoshitoshi Abe illustrated SF] light novel All You Need Is Kill [which happens to be available in English], where the lead is to be Tom Cruise.

The other is Katsuhiro Otomo’s SF manga Akira, made into an anime movie in 1988. In this case, the entire cast consists of whites. In this case, lead character Kaneda will be played by Garrett Hedlund.

Professor Kent A. Ono of the University of Illinois says a great many Asian roles have been taken by white actors over the years, with such examples as Mickey Rooney playing a Japanese role in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Yul Brynner playing the king of Siam in 1956’s The King and I.

Some even replace the entire roles with Americans, such as the 1954 remake of The Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven. Recent examples are Dragonball Evolution and Speed Racer.

Professor Ono say that “the production staff likely maintain that as anime characters aren’t even real people, there’s no problem with changing their race.”

He is critical of the practice: “This doesn’t just steal the jobs of Asian actors, it’s an insult to their origins.”


In the case of Akira, the whole setting has been switched from Japan to Manhattan. Animation historian Jerry Beck says this is a major mistake: “The fans they are targeting all feel the Japanese elements to be one of the most appealing elements of the work, the producers don’t get this at all.” He fears this will merely “cheapen” the film.


As for All You Need Is Kill, the lead will become a young American. Director Doug Liman has said in an interview that the cast will be “completely American.” One site criticises this, saying “Even if you change the setting to America, there’s no need to replace the whole cast with whites. It doesn’t reflect the fact that there are many ‘completely American’ Asians.”

No less than George Takei himself has been complaining about the practice as well, not that anyone in Hollywood pays attention to such trifles.

Japanese seem practically resigned to having America routinely plundering their culture, although it might surprise some “Asian American” advocates to learn that Chinese, Japanese and Koreans actually consider themselves distinct nationalities:

“Who cares. America has no history of its own, so it is stuck making movies using material from other countries.”

“Hollywood just has Chinese people play Japanese roles anyway.”

“It might be interesting to see Kaneda played by some poverty stricken Hispanic.”

“If they don’t pack all their dramas with people of every possible race over there, they get accused of discrimination.”

“Cast them as whites. Every time they cast a Japanese role over there, it ends up being some dirty slant-eyed Korean!”

“Make it in Japanese with English subs!”

“What’s wrong with localising these titles?”

“Well, basically it would be best if the originating country made the adaptation, wouldn’t it?”

“There’s no way any American could understand Japanese history. It’s the same with China. You can’t really translate it into English. That’s why they can’t understand any of the subtleties. They can only reproduce the most superficial elements, which is why none of what they produce is any good.”

“If it’s good it doesn’t matter who you use as actors. In the case of Dragonball they just ignored the whole original work though…”

“It looks like we have another great adaptation to look forward to!”

“If it were made in Japan it would just end up like Gantz…”

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    Comment by Anonymous
    16:56 17/01/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Don't forget the obligatory and inevitable black character! It's not complete whitewashing!

    Avatar of Satonaka
    Comment by Satonaka
    01:16 18/01/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    The black characters's job is to say things like "Bling BLing!"


    "That is whack!"

    Don't forget those lines, they gotta have them all :D

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:16 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    you got that from a movie, making fun of this exact thing

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:12 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    What EVERYONE forgets is that 99.999999% of anime movie adaptations SUCK HORRIBLY whether is be with white or asian actors... sooooo yeaaaaahhhhhhhhh just dont make adaptations lol. just bring the movie back with an HD remake and maybe some extra story / scenes

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:54 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    What movie?

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:57 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    dont forget they used to be the first ones to die too but now they have a 33% thanks to other ethnics such as orientals and Asians and whites have 1%.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:29 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    True dat y'all indeed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:48 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Down with Hollywood!
    They don't like anyone, not even their fellow citizens in America by lobbying money for absurd laws like SOPA and PIPA

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:16 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Don't forget the obligatory and inevitable "comedic black character sidekick"! It's not complete whitewashing!

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:20 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    If Samuel L. Jackson plays Kaneda I'll watch it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:05 18/01/2012 # ! Drivel (-1.0)

    lol i gess but remembere asian movies like, mortal kombat?? XD i prefer movies for leas asian looks all the same even if i like manga anime et, they are not really adaptables to soma charaters.....

    Avatar of Rashid Hasbun
    Comment by Rashid Hasbun
    09:55 18/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    Mortal Kombat wasnt asian, was a hollywood production with an occidental director.

    Learn to troll at least.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:23 18/01/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Well, it's not like they steal their jobs or dignity. It's more like Hollywood is happily ignorant and Caucasian-centric when it comes to their choices.

    Think about it, over the last years their has been a trend to include lots of "racial placeholders" in movies. Sort of like, a nod to "political correctness". Of course, those actors are usually relegated to playing typical stereotypes and they end up looking rather bland in the long run.

    Then again, think about it from a different angle. Bollywood, Hong Kong Cinema and all the other local hot spots usually cater to their own hemisphere and you usually don't hear Hollywood complaining about that.

    Sure, it's NEVER good to change a certain base material so that it fits the expectations of the masses versus the expectations of the true fans. BUT, that's all a matter of finances. Money will always be the defining factor in the end.

    Would i have preferred a Japanese Dragonball live-action movie? I don't know. It would depend on what they would have come up with. Do i like the American movie? Hell no! It sucks on many more levels than mere originality.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:56 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    "It's more like Hollywood is happily ignorant and Caucasian-centric when it comes to their choices."

    mmm, not exactly.
    at least, not in the sense that it's some sort of institutional stupidity.
    it's more like the reality of the American industry "leading man" is he's still white.

    the changing demographics of America don't matter.
    the origins of the source doesn't matter.
    what matters is the way the industry works is a movie is sold on a lead actor or actress (that person is on all the PR material, they do all the interviews, their name is plastered all over the sales material, etc etc).
    and the vast majority of those actors and actresses are white.

    but it's not that industry execs are somehow too stupid to see beyond white. it's that they want to sell a film and they can't sell it without a big name.
    and those big names are largely white.

    and it gets worse if we are talking about some sort of asian project.
    there is a decent number of black actors/actresses who could carry a film.
    a smaller number of hispanic.
    and no asian american actors (that i can think of at least) who could really claim to have the star power to lead a film.

    realistically the only asian actor who could lead a film in the US is probably Jackie Chan, and he's not American, and even then we're only talking about a specific type of film.
    what he's done in the China/HK scene is a lot more diverse than what Americans know him for.

    Avatar of Tenshi_
    Comment by Tenshi_
    15:51 17/01/2012 # ! Quality (+0.9)

    I don't care if the role is taken by Asian, Caucasian, black, Indian etc... as long as its WATCHABLE, I'm fine with whoever playing the role. Though, just how many adaptions by Hollywood were successful? I believe it was none...

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:04 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    avatar the last airbender movie.

    directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

    nuff said.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:09 17/01/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    It was shit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:00 18/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    big time.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:39 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    wtf that was absolute garbage

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:39 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    To his credit there were no plants killing people this time.

    Avatar of Nekomancer
    Comment by Nekomancer
    00:12 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    You're right! The promblem is not that the cast is white (in Hollywood it is rarely wholly white cast anyway - a lot of blacks and asians too), but the thing, that the people responsible for adaption completely don't understand anime... Director that doesn't feel "the magic" of thing he works on, will never make a good adaptation.

    Avatar of Sazuko Toriyama
    Comment by Sazuko Toriyama
    15:20 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    IN CORRECT!!! WE HAVE SCOTT PILGRIM!!! >:D The lone survivor in this dark world of manga/anime to movie adaptations!!!

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:21 19/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Scott Pilgrim isn't anime dude. It's a spoof/parody of anime/manga made by a Canadian Cartoonist. The art style is bug eyed, but as we all know here, big eyes and chibi characters don't make it anime.

    so back to the point; nope, there aren't any successful adaptations of anime/manga made by Hollywood yet.

    If they ever have to make it successful however, they should think of doing it like recent marvel comics adaptations, where 80% of the movie is Good quality CG. It could do some of the Manga titles justice at least.

    and 2, they should stop think about " the AMURCANN Audience" and stick with the original plot and design more, instead of putting together whatever's convenient and call it "fill in character name"

    That old model of selling movie titles with a star used to work, but not when the title ITSELF is actually the bigger thing.

    I mean, LOTR was a adaptation. Although not manga, but hey, they're actor's weren't all star level before the series. Only a few were big stars, but most people didn't go watch LOTR for the stars, it was for the title. Just like kids go watch Harry Potter expecting the visualization of the novel that they love.

    If Hollywood doesn't sort out what titles should cater to the right audience, they'll keep failing on these mid budget manga/anime adaptations.

    Avatar of Shippoyasha
    Comment by Shippoyasha
    17:31 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I do agree that watchable adaptations can be great on their own.

    It's just that it's disheartening that intrinsically Asian stories with Asian setting and Asian characters/actors just are noted as 'unsellable' to the Western world.

    That is just a very offputting sensation. That because it is Asian, it's not marketable.

    Avatar of Ribbons
    Comment by Ribbons
    23:33 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Speed Racer ended up being pretty damn enjoyable to watch.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:44 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Speed Racer movie was trash.

    Avatar of Satonaka
    Comment by Satonaka

    Damn right, I loved that movie and even own in on Blu-Ray myself. Sad it only made like 33 mil when it cost 100 mil to make :(

    There WAS supposed to be a sequel but WB pulled the plug when it made crap at the box office.

    That movie ran on pure "Rule of cool" and the Directors did an amazing job adapting it and changing a few things here and there for an american audience.

    In my eyes, being one of the few, it was a success.

    Avatar of Rashid Hasbun
    Comment by Rashid Hasbun
    10:00 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    blind maybe :D
    Speed racer it´s the worst film in they filmography. even worst than matrix 2 and 3.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:14 19/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    The Matrix 2 and 3 had good stories. People just like to bitch because they think it makes them sound smart.

    Avatar of KingFisher
    Comment by KingFisher
    16:18 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (-0.2)

    Not true. Lord of the Rings was the only Hollywood adaptation I found that was excellent.

    Avatar of Yoshii-kun
    Comment by Yoshii-kun
    16:39 17/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.7)

    Lord of the Rings was hands down, but I think Tenshi's point was at adaptations from Jap anime/movies, not adaptations in general.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:41 17/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.5)

    Lord of the Rings? They took all the main roles and recast them as humans.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:52 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Have you ever read the books. And I mean the actual books in english not some picture books made for children or some fucked up translations.

    I admit it's impossible to cram even one of those books in 3 hours movie. Every book would have needed it's own trilogy to honour the original and we all know that's never going to happen.

    The balance of action to actual plot is throuwn out the window just to cram a few more action scene seconds in them and they even made changes to the script to make it possible. For example the hobbits sword were not given to them by aragorn in the books.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:14 19/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hey cheese fucker, do you realize that everybody who was actually a decision maker in those films were fans of the books?

    I'm pretty certain that Christopher Lee alone has read the books more times than you have.

    You are obviously too stupid to realize that there are things that are conveyed in the books that don't translate exactly to film, so you have to make changes accordingly to deliver the same message.

    And the message is what counts, not whether or not Strider gave the hobbits weapons on the Weathertop.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:12 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah, but that was due to the whole, "I can't make Tom Bombadil work" argument, and it's a fairly decent argument to make considering the type of movie they were making.

    The changes they made, were in general not too extreme, and they were respectful of the Source Material.

    Even stuff like making it Arwen who saves Frodo during movie 1, whereas it's actually Glorfindel, who put Frodo on his horse and have it deal with the running, whilest he helped delay the Nazgul's and eventually together with Strider and the Hobbits* drive them into the river Bruinen, which has been unleashed by Elrond, with a little extra magic by Gandalf as well.

    *: The latter using torches, whereas Glorfindel didn't need that, considering his own powers.

    And they made that change to give Arwen more face time, to help further the idea, that she's Aragorn's The One. This to better highlight the Eowyn tempation later on.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:41 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    its pretty tough to up do people's imagination... books with no picture are always going to be better... that, or a lot of people just say "books are better than the film" so that everyone know they read that thick ass book....

    Comment by Anonymous

    The lord of the rings books were absolutely terrible. I don't know how it became popular in the first place.
    The balance of action with plot is a little off in the movies I admit but the balance of action/plot with mind changing/rants/random nonsense in the books was a perfect 50-50

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:04 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    LOL I think KF missed the point entirely, as there are a number of book adaptions that are very good. Even some book adaptions that aren't even faithful turn out to be something enjoyable.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:18 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    umm, I don't think lord of the rings was made by hollywood

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:25 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You're kidding, right?

    Avatar of Minru
    Comment by Minru
    15:43 17/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    If i was an asian actor i wouldn't be caught dead in a holywood remake. Best way i can think of to ruin your reputation. The next good remake will be the first!

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:49 17/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Gotta agree. Why are they still continuing this when both DBZ and Speed Racer failed so hard?

    Comment by Busy
    01:53 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    They failed becomes the lack of money they had for them.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:17 17/01/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    I counter that arguement with the Coen Bros. True Grit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:47 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    ... and we will pay you 5 million for appearing in this role. What's this, you don't want it? Oh well, enjoy your reputation then.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:30 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    what about silent hill,not bad movie is it.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:29 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    It's not just bad, it's horrible.
    Sure, the art direction is generally okay - but as an adaptation of Silent Hill 1 and 2, it's terrible. I'll set aside the issue of terrible dialogue and stupid writing to talk about this at a higher level. Here's why it's a bad adaptation-
    Women have a social support network in other women. Men do not. When Rose leaves her husband, it's empowering. When the wives of Harry and James die, they're almost completely alone (and completely alone in the case of James). That power dynamic radically alters the feeling one gets when wandering through the haunted, abandoned town.

    There's no reason why Rose would experience any of the same things Harry and James did. In Harry's case, he was experiencing projections from Cheryl. In James' case, his own sexual frustration with women was reflected back at him.

    There's no need to replace Harry or James with an entirely new character that never appeared in the books.

    The cult's reinvention into a Jim Jones reactionary Christian group was also unnecessary. When they started chanting "burn the witch!" it was like a very bad production of _The Crucible_.

    I get that people wanted the movie to be good and are trying to like it in spite of the fact that it's not good. The same thing happened with the Transformers movies. But it's not good, and I want the adaptations to be more faithful to the ideas and themes of the source material.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:59 17/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's not bad it's HORRIBLE.

    Comment by Anonymous

    It's probably because the game is based on caucasians.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:54 18/01/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    What are "Caucasians"? How is that ridiculous word still used for white people of western European origin? It is totally wrong, white people looking like western Europeans have never lived in Caucasus area between Turkey & Iran and southern Russia. Caucasus mountains, very dark people live there.
    Of article we are discussing: All Hollywood remakes are shit, of whatever origin, not only from East Asia.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Hollywood makes the best movies, period. What actors need to do is read the fucking script first so they know whether or not it is well written and not a piece of shit.

    And I'd like to know how many Asian actors are actually auditioning.

    Avatar of tomoemami
    Comment by tomoemami
    18:22 30/01/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Hey, when you don't have any other acting job and are offered one, you accept it even if it's shit. How do you think they pay their bills? And I'm not talking big name actors either, just the regular "trying to get by" ones, which are the majority.

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