Whitewashing in Entertainment

My friend Adriana made a blog post about this topic a while back, particularly regarding the Pan movie if you’d like to take a look at it, it’s great! Here’s the link: https://thecinemasoloist.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/why-is-hollywood-not-understanding-that-whitewashing-is-bad-for-business/

Before Thanksgiving, I went to go see my university’s production of Rent. It was well put together, it moved me to tears. However, one of my critiques was how the characters Joanne and Mimi, African American and Latin American characters, were portrayed by Caucasian women. It also didn’t help that the actress who played Mimi had an accent in the first act, just to drop it in the second act.

Were they good actresses, yes, but that’s not the point. The point of the matter is that theater and film departments tend to lose sections of their audience by not making their material diverse, or if a minority character is taken over by a member of the majority. And the audition process and the mentality of “maybe they were right for the part,” not when there are people of color auditioning as well as they are.

I recently listened to the whole soundtrack of Hamilton, a musical that has songs, rap, and spoken word about Alexander Hamilton’s life during the Revolutionary War. Ninety percent of the cast is African American, Biracial, Asian American, and Latin American even though this is a story about white men who are dead and gone. People don’t understand how exciting that is to find a way to display people of color’s stories without realizing it through the lens of this particular white man who was poor, an immigrant, lost his parents, and became a powerful man’s (in this case, George Washington) right hand man. Most importantly, it drew so many people in because of the diverse cast for a more contemporary audience we have today.

I look forward to more films and plays like that to come out in the future. Hopefully there would be more people color being a part of the majority and not the majority taking a piece of what minorities have in entertainment.

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