Hollywood’s historical portrayal of Asian characters in the movies has been, at best, problematic, and at worst, simply racist.
Hoping to both right wrongs and draw attention to the ‘yellowface’ phenomenon and whitewashing in the movies – when white actresses have been used to portray Asian characters – is Asian-American presenter and broadcaster Michelle Villemaire.
She’s mocked up pictures of herself taken from famous movies in which 'yellowface’ has been employed.
So the (nowadays pretty appalling) use of Katharine Hepburn in the 1944 movie 'Dragon Seed’ has been reimagined with an actual Asian actress in her place.
Ditto Luise Rainer in 'The Good Earth’ from 1937, Rita Moreno in ‘The King and I’ in 1956, and Myrna Loy from 1932’s 'The Mask of Fu Manchu’.
There’s even a more up-to-date righting of said wrongs, with Villemaire as Emma Stone from Cameron Crowe’s despised 'Aloha’ in 2015, and as Scarlett Johansson in the upcoming ‘Ghost In The Shell’.
“Growing up, I didn’t see many faces like mine on television and film. And because I wanted to be an actor it was really hard to believe that I could ever be one,” she writes.
“Only women who had a certain skin color and eye shape were really allowed on screen, right? To this day white people are cast as Asians, deepening the message that Asians just aren’t wanted.”
“I wanted to shine a light on how ridiculous it was that these women were cast in these roles,” she added.
“I just find it hard to believe that Asian actors were hard to find back then.”
The move follows a similar take on the 'whitewashing’ of the movie business last month, when digital strategist William Yu went viral with various movies re-imagined to star 'Star Trek’s John Cho.
“#StarringJohnCho is a social movement that literally shows you what it would look like if today’s Hollywood blockbusters cast an Asian-American actor - specifically, John Cho - as their leading man,” says Yu on the website.
Image Credits: HomeMadeMimi