While black actors have arrived in Hollywood, Asian actors have failed to make much of an impression and it’s kind of puzzling – unless you consider their relative lack of English-language skills.
After all, Asia is the largest continent with the biggest population and you would have thought it was a reasonable demographic, in addition to pleasing the Asian population of the US – currently 5 % and expected to rise to 10 % in 2050.
White guy Harrison Ford playing a Taiwan doctor in Extraordinary Measures is further grist to the mill.
The film’s script changed the name and nationality of the real-life person, Dr Chen Yuan-tsong (陳垣崇), into an American research scientist called Robert Stonehill.
Of course, Ford can attract more bums on seats than an Asian actor without much name recognition in the US – but was it really necessary to take so much liberty with the truth?
Surely, it was an opportunity to cast an Asian actor?
The problem seems to be Chinese actors with the necessary chops don’t have a sufficient grasp of English. After all, in an English-speaking film this might be considered a prerequisite.
A shortlist of Chinese actors who do speak good English includes: ABC Daniel Wu (吴彦祖), ABC Wang Lee-hom (王力宏), ABC David Tao (陶喆), Jackie Chan (成龙), and the Canadian-Chinese Edison Chen (陈冠希) and Nicholas Tse (谢霆锋).
I wonder if any of them were approached? Perhaps we should be told?
Blogs like Angry Asian Man, Racebending.com and Tasty, Tantalizing and Terrific Taiwan are, understandably, claiming another whitewash.