Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Akira" to be remade with white people

Did any of you ever find it weird that Arnold Schwarzenegger, with his unmistakably thick Austrian accent, used to play characters with such Anglo names as Harry Tasker, Douglas Quaid, Ben Richards and The Terminator?

If you answered yes, then how will you feel about watching a movie filled with white guys with such distinctively Japanese names as Akira, Tetsuo and Kaneda?

If your first thought is "Hmmm, that sounds kinda f*cked up", then welcome to the club.

How white will Akira be? This white.

But that's precisely what's likely to happen as Warner Brothers prepare to make their live-action version of the landmark 1988 Japanese anime Akira, about teenage bikers with psionic powers in futuristic Neo-Tokyo. For the two lead roles, the script has been sent to the sort of actors you'd expect to play people with Japanese names: Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.

Obviously someone at Warner Brothers watched Akira and loved it, except for the fact that it's just too, well, Japanese.

Now preferably, they would have just left it well alone to begin with. But obviously Hollywood simply can't resist taking every awesome foreign film ever made and making their own lifeless facsimile to appeal to the kind of audience who won't watch the original because it's in another language and it doesn't have any actors they've ever heard of. And if it becomes a success then audiences will exclaim, "Oh, The Departed was so awesome! Scorsese, what a genius!"

This version of Akira is apparently going to be set in Neo-Manhattan rather than Neo-Tokyo, yet they are keeping the Japanese names. You'd think then, that it would be a perfect opportunity to use some Asian-American talent. Or even Asian-Asian talent (ie. Korean star Rain). Wrong.

Of course, the obvious defence of Hollywood is this: "Where are the Asian male leads who could carry these roles? There are simply none with the profile of Pattinson and so on."

Which makes sense... except that it begs the question: "Why not?"

If there are no Asian-American male actors famous enough to carry this movie, it's because Hollywood has not given them the chance. Was Pattinson a star before Twilight? No. And the other names on the list, with the exceptions of Phoenix and Timberlake, are hardly household names anyway.

But as you probably well know, it's just Hollywood doing as Hollywood does, continuing a tradition that includes 21, The Last Airbender, and Dragonball Z.

(Hat tip: Racebending, via BigWOWO)

UPDATE (27th March):
Thai-American playwright and performer Prince Gomolvilas has this video up that captures this issue quite brilliantly. Check it:


  1. Daniel Dae Kim is an excellent actor in Hawaii Five O and so is Tim Kang of the saying there is no Asian male actor does not wash! They want an Asian female...Grace Park and Kelly Hu are the names that come to mind..sure the audience does not want these women kissing white Akira that is a non-issue!

  2. Yeah, I'm really disappointed in the shaft that's being given to male Asian actors in Hollywood. Unless they're Jet Li or Jackie Chan, nobody gives then a chance!

    And it's definitely starting to get really racist by constantly casting White people into the roles of Asian actors. It's not like we're a country in the middle of sub-Saharan Africa where Asian actors are scarce.

    My suggestion: teach all the Asian actors kung-fu and start a Boxer revolution on Sunset boulevard.

  3. @ George:
    actually Hollywood has no problem with Asian girls and white guys. It's portraying Asian males as in any way positive that Hollywood doesn't know how to do. They may as well not exist.

    @ Zek:
    Actually the kung fu idea is pretty good, then they can get one of the few roles they are allowed to have, that of martial artist/henchman.

  4. *sigh*
    sounds like another shit movie

  5. Have you posted this one before? It's not Akira, but still hilarious from Prince G (found it after I followed your links):