By Dan Kim and Koki Nishimura

While the role of the Asian American has started to expand and grow in Hollywood, their newfound impact and voice within the industry is being used to continue the effort to eliminate “whitewashing” and stereotypes in mass media. Roles which would fit an Asian/Asian-American actor have long been transformed or ignored so that non-Asian actors and actresses are taking their roles. Asian American actors and other minorities are “tired of waiting to be hired for roles Hollywood creates for us” and want to show they can take on larger roles within media and be successful.

The audience for this New York Times article written by Amanda Hess seems to be aimed towards those who are not consciously aware of the acting discrepancy within Hollywood. The article aims to inform people of the movement and the affiliated actors and actresses. It could also be aimed towards those who are not as active on social media, as a large part of the argument is based on Twitter activity and other social media posts. The initial article itself isn’t necessarily aimed to convince, despite the article title. The respective links and facts presented externally from the site develop the argument and to suggest looking towards future trends of this when she mentioned Ghost in the Shell.

The article and their respective links lead to a deeper understanding of the side advocating for more representation from minorities. Its application can be attributed to many other minorities such as African Americans, Latin Americans and so on. The article gives reason as to why there is outrage over whitewashing in Hollywood, that taking away opportunities is just as important as not taking a chance on minorities for major lead roles. Without a presence within a major part of media and culture, minorities will continue to suffer from a lack of impact within the sphere of America.


The population of Asian-American now becomes one of the fastest nation’s growing in the United States; however, according to a University of Southern California study, it stated that Asian actors and actresses came up front just 4.4 percent of speaking characters within top 100 gross movies in 2013. Some actors critic that “Hollywood does not put minorities in lead roles because American society rarely lets minorities take the lead”. This critic directly towards to Academy Awards ceremony. On social media Twitter, hashtag “OscarsSoWhite was so controversial last year, and this year was much focusing on diversity at that day. But let take a moment and consider what the actual diversity means.

Over the years, Asian movies are getting popular and Hollywood fascinates to make own version of movies. Dragonball which is written by Akira Toriyama is widely popular, and the adaptation of Japanese popular manga horrifically failed live-action movie casted by white in the U.S. One article that I found interesting was that the author, Justin Chan, states that he feels that producers and directors have already known the fact that they are going to fail because of whitewashed film. Meanwhile, why they keep doing the same thing years and years because Hollywood does not want to give any different aspects of social representation. In the article actress mentions that “I think that people’s perception of who we are, what we can do, or where we come from is what’s at issue, and if someone perceives us as being foreign or being ‘other,’ they are not going to see us as part of Broadway or Hollywood”.

Image result for ghost in the shell scarlett johansson

Here is a great example of Japanese pop culture adaptation called “Ghost in the Shell” which will be coming out very soon and produced by Hollywood. The original series called “Ghost in the Shell” is a Japanese media franchise originally published as a manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Masamune Shiro. At the point when Paramount initially reported Johansson has joined the project in April 2016, fans and performing artists of Asian actresses including Ming-Na Wen and Constance Wu dissented the throwing, calling it another occurrence of whitewashing in Hollywood. Wen said while she did not have an issue with Johansson as a performing artist all in all, she remained against everything the whitewashing of the part meant. Wu, who has been vocal about whitewashing and absence of Asian parts in standard Hollywood previously, included her contemplations. She tweeted that “It’s like way to reduce race to mere phys appearance as opposed to say culture, social experience, identity, history”.

Asian-American on-screen characters have dependably had a troublesome time getting parts in Hollywood. At the point when some throwing executives, makers, and chiefs, take a gander at nAsian-American actors and actresses, and just cast them in movies that have Asian settings, they totally prohibit the way that, yes, Asians can be Americans as well. That yes, they can be in love comedies, thrillers/ghastliness, activity blockbusters, and so forth. It is an inconspicuous bigotry that does not need to do with detest, however it’s a sort of throwing prejudice regardless. Awful throwing is not the slightest bit, implying that the on-screen characters that are being considered/offered these parts, are not equipped for giving a decent execution. The on-screen characters above, are all incredible performing artists, and have no control of what choices the executive picks.


One of the attributes to whitewashing Asian/Asian-American actors and actresses comes from an inherent sociological aspects that Asian men are less desirable and can only achieve so much within Hollywood, which has a predominantly white actor base. Studies have shown that, for Asian men, the lack of sex appeal or even romantic prowess among heterosexual and homosexual relationships has led to their stereotype being developed. Their media role and subsequent absence from acting helps reinforce the notion that Asian males are lesser beings in the world of attraction. Asian women, more often than not, hold themselves to a Western standard of beauty and often find themselves as niche, or “token”, characters.

This study investigates the interracial and intraracial dating preferences of heterosexual males, females and homosexual Asian men. Using data collected from Internet dating profiles, the article examines the odds of one’s willingness to date someone who is Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, and other ethnic backgrounds. The findings suggest that heterosexual females and gay males prefer to date Whites over nonwhites. Moreover, respondents from both sexual orientations were less likely to express a preference to date another Asian compared to their heterosexual male counterparts. Our results also reveal that educational attainment influences the willingness among Asians to date a fellow Asian. Finally, the analyses indicate significant differences in dating preferences based on the region of residence and age. The current results are discussed in relation to both the historical and present sociocultural racial climate, focusing on how media depictions and identity formation may play a part in shaping racial dating preferences for Asians.

The connection between general attraction to Asians and their representation within media can help determine the reason behind the representation, and lack of, of Asians within the media. The studies indicate that Asian males are generally less sought after due to the long history and treatment of Asian immigrants dating back to the 1800’s and into the modern era. Media representation has presented an asexual model of Asian males to a completely hyper-sexualized version of Asian females, creating a large imbalance in sexual preference among men and women of different ethnic background with intra-racial studies resulting in slightly less, yet still prominent, difference. The social narrative that Asians prefer to date white men and that Asian males are less desirable helps guide the narrative that Asian males in media have a tougher time succeeding.

A question that remains to be explained is the role of Asian American women and their representation in media. Their status, depending on who you ask, revolves around underrepresented, oversexualized or both. An academic article of Asian American women and eating disorders indicates that Asian American women have to hold themselves to the western standard of beauty following racial discrimination and oppression. The idea of media internalization, or the internalized viewpoint of media standards of beauty can eliminate chances of Asian American women in media. Asian American actors and actresses have to play to the tune of America’s standard, which doesn’t picture Asians as traditionally attractive and as a result, slotted into the “niche” roles.


As a result, Ghost in the Shell faces a hard predicament in terms of appeasing to Hollywood, an economic hub of media, and keeping true to its source, originally a work in  Japanese manga. The main argument against casting Asians in Asian roles is that there are no “A-list” actors or actresses to reliably cast and draw names. Ghost in the Shell clearly highlights this case as the main character, played by Scarlett Johansson, is named Motoko Kusanagi, now renamed to “The Major” for American audiences. The attention to Scarlett Johansson playing another role in Hollywood, and its subsequent backlash and discussion, have now taken over as the main buzz around the movie and will generate the audience and attention, rather than showcase an Asian work being portrayed in America. The methods used in interpreting the original content have been criticized as minimal at best to nonexistent and it is starting to look like Hollywood will leverage Ghost in the Shell’s origins to make a profit. If Ghost in the Shell is an honest attempt at interpreting an Asian concept for a Western audience, then we have to question what is “accurate” interpretation. If there is no attempt and this is using Asia as a cash cow, we have to have an honest discussion on how to proceed with Asia(ns) in Hollywood.


Works Cited:

Alexander, Julia. “Scarlett Johansson Finally Addresses Ghost in the Shell Whitewashing Controversy.” Polygon. Polygon, 09 Feb. 2017.  

Bernadin, Marc. “Hollywood’s glaring problem: White actors playing Asian characters” The LA Times. The LA Times. 18, April 2016. Web.

Briones, Isis. “Asian Actors Are Still Only 1% of Hollywood’s Leading Roles.” Teen Vogue. Teen Vogue, 4 Mar. 2016. Web.

Chan, Justin. “Where Are All the Asian Americans in Hollywood?” Complex. N.p., 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 

Chow, Keith. “Why Won’t Hollywood Cast Asian-American Actors?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22, April 2016. Web.

Ghost in the Shell – Header Image

Gilmore, Corey. “Hollywood’s Asian Whitewashing: Why It Happens So Often, And Why It Must Be Stopped” IndieWire. Indiewire, 29, April 2016. Web.

Ford, Rebecca, Sun, Rebecca. Where Are the Asian-American Movie Stars?” The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter, 9 May 2016. Web.

Hess, Amanda. “Asian-American Actors Are Fighting for Visibility. They Will Not Be Ignored.”The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 May 2016. Web.

Hsiu-Lan Cheng, Disordered Eating Among Asian/Asian American Women. The Counseling Psychologist, Vol 42, Issue 6, pp. 821 – 851, 30 May, 2014.

Kavanagh, Jillian K., McGrath Allison R., Tsunokai, Glenn T. Online dating preferences of Asian Americans. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Vol 31, Issue 6, pp. 796 – 814, 16, October, 2013.

Mandracchia, Christen. “Whitewashing of Asian Characters in Hollywood Anime/Manga Adaptations.” The Artifice. N.p., 23 Nov. 2015. 

Sargent, Jordan. “Sony Exec: ‘Broke’ Aaron Sorkin Is ‘Sleeping With’ Author.” Gawker. Gawker, 12, Dec. 2014. Web.

Scarlett Johansson and Motoko Kusanagi – Comparison of Ghost in the Shell

Pulliman-Moore, Charles. “Doctor Strange’s whitewashing is part of a much bigger legacy of Hollywood’s racism” Fusion. Fusion, 6, May 2016. Web.

Staff, THR. “#OscarsSoWhite: John Oliver Mocks Hollywood Whitewashing, Public Outrage at Minority Casting” The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter, 23, Feb. 2016. Web.

Varagur, Krithika. “Hollywood Won’t Cast Asians in Lead Roles, So Twitter Did It For Them.” The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 9, May 2016. Web.

Weintraub, Steve ‘Frosty’. “‘Ghost in the Shell’: Everything You Need to Know about Hollywood’s Gritty,.” Collider. N.p., 12 Nov. 2016. Web. 

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