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Man Crush Monday: Dev Patel

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – MAY 02: Actor Dev Patel is photographed at The H Hotel on May 2, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Actor Dev Patel is in Dubai for the Chivas Icons. The event recognises individuals who inspire others to Win The Right Way. This event will celebrate Dev’s work with the #LionHeart campaign, which helps vulnerable children in India. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for Chivas Regal )

I might as well start off this series with someone I’ve featured frequently on this site in recent days, especially since he’s just been honored by Chivas Regal and their Win The Right Way event for his Lionheart campaign, which supports nonprofits who help homeless children in India.

Patel, who started the campaign after being inspired by playing Sunny Parwar in the Oscar-nominated film Lion, said he wants to use his platform to give opportunities to others.

“I am grateful for my life and the success I have enjoyed. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep; when I’m going to eat or how I’m going to protect myself. I have the freedom to make my own choices and choose my path in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of children in India and around the world. For this reason, I want to help others by telling culturally diverse stories that educate and shed light on the human condition. True success means using your own to help others who don’t have a voice or the freedom we take for granted. This is what Win the Right Way means to me. It shows that success is better shared and is a force for good.”

In short, aside from being the possible leading man in a film starring either Imaan Hammam or Octavia Spencer, Patel is also a humanitarian, all at the age of 26. Love this guy.

Read the full press release about Chivas Regal below.


(Dubai, UAE) Actor Dev Patel, who catapulted to success in 2009 when he starred in the Academy Award winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, will be the guest of honour at the Chivas Icons event on 2nd May 2017, at Play in the H Hotel.

The Chivas Icons was launched in October 2016 to recognise and celebrate individuals in The Gulf, who not only make a difference themselves but also inspire others to Win The Right Way. This event will recognise Dev for his work with the #LionHeart campaign, which helps vulnerable children in India.

The #Lionheart campaign was inspired, in part, by the 2016 movie Lion which starred Dev opposite Nicole Kidman and Sunny Parwar. It tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian child lost many miles from his home and his decade long struggle to return to his family. Each year 80,000 children go missing in India, with a further 11 million living on the streets. The #Lionheart campaign supports three India base charities – Magic Bus; Childline India and Railway Children India – all of which do extraordinary work on the ground to protect children in India and around the world.

Dev Patel, commented:

“The ideal of sharing success resonates strongly with me. Success is not something that’s handed to you on a plate. It takes hard work, many sacrifices and years to achieve and, in my own experience, it wouldn’t be possible without the support of family, friends and collaborators along the way.

“I am grateful for my life and the success I have enjoyed. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep; when I’m going to eat or how I’m going to protect myself. I have the freedom to make my own choices and choose my path in life. Unfortunately, this is not the case for millions of children in India and around the world. For this reason, I want to help others by telling culturally diverse stories that educate and shed light on the human condition. True success means using your own to help others who don’t have a voice or the freedom we take for granted. This is what Win the Right Way means to me. It shows that success is better shared and is a force for good.”

Antoin Breen, Marketing Manager Chivas at Pernod Ricard Gulf, said:

“We, at Chivas, believe real success is not measured by wealth alone but by how many lives a person has enriched. Chivas Icons is based on the ideal of encouraging individuals to not only strive for professional success, but to do so in a way that improves the lives of those around them. We are committed to championing this message and endeavour to inspire others to Win The Right Way. We are delighted to recognise Dev for his inspiring contribution.”

The inaugural Chivas Icons event in October 2016 recognised several leading local Icons including Dubai restaurateur Silvena Rowe, Dubai based industrialist and founder of Petrochem Yogesh Mehta and Charles Blaschke of Taka Solutions – winner of The Gulf Chivas Venture 2016.

Win The Right Way is a global campaign encouraging individuals to not only strive for professional success but to do so in a way that improves the lives of those around them. It has been supported by Javier Bardem, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Evans, Don Cheadle and Oscar Isaac, amongst others.

ABOUT CHIVAS REGAL

Launched in 1909, Chivas Regal is considered a timeless classic, renowned for its benchmark quality and taste, style, substance and exclusivity. A truly global brand, Chivas Regal has been integral to the growth of the Scotch category worldwide and today sells 4.5 million 9L cases annually in more than 150 countries across the globe. With generosity, entrepreneurship and integrity at the heart of Chivas Regal, the brand launched its successful Win the Right Way campaign in 2014, which aims to inspire a new generation whilst making a positive impact on the lives of others. The Chivas Regal range includes: Chivas 12, Chivas Extra, Chivas 18, Chivas Ultis, Chivas 25, ultra-prestige blend and pinnacle of the range Chivas Regal The Icon, and the Global Travel Retail exclusive Chivas Brothers Blend. Launched in October 2016, Chivas Regal Ultis is the first blended malt Scotch from the House of Chivas and represents the true essence of Chivas Regal. www.chivas.com

ABOUT #WINTHERIGHTWAY – CAMPAIGN MANIFESTO

“We believe generosity and success go hand in hand. That being generous with our time and knowledge, creates greater success for ourselves and for others. That business should solve social problems not create them, that people are as important as profit, and that the individual pursuit of wealth has created problems for us all. We believe in sharing our success, supporting local communities, and investing in social businesses. It’s at the heart of what we do.”

ABOUT DEV PATEL

Dev catapulted to success in 2009 when he starred in the Academy Award winning film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, directed by Danny Boyle, receiving rave reviews for his performance and garnering a number of award wins including the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance, The British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Dev Patel was most recently seen in theatres starring opposite Nicole Kidman and Sunny Parwar in Weinstein Cos Academy Award nominated LION, directed by Garth Davis. Dev won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. He was also nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD, GOLDEN GLOBE, SAG, and BROADCAST CRITICS AWARD.

ABOUT THE #LIONHEART CAMPAIGN – VARIETY INTERVIEW

See-Saw Films is partnering with The Weinstein Company (TWC) and The Charity Network to launch #LionHeart, which will provide financial support to the over 11 million children who live on the streets of India. As part of the effort, Dev Patel, the star of the upcoming drama, is appearing in a video that discusses some of the issues in the country and to urge viewers to donate money. “Lion” recounts the story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy who got separated from his family and was later adopted by an Australian couple. As an adult, Brierley used Google Earth to find his biological family and reunite with them. “Unfortunately, stories like Saroo’s are all too common. Over 80,000 children go missing each year and there are over 11 million children living on the streets in India alone,” Patel said in a statement. “There are organisations on the ground doing amazing work to help kids like Saroo. And the best way we can help is by giving them the financial support they so desperately need.”

The partners say that more than 80,000 children in India go missing every year. The non-profit organisations that #LionHeart will support include Magic Bus, which educates at risk children and provides them with life-skills necessary to move out of poverty, as well as Railway Children, a charity that works with kids living on the streets and railways stations to prevent them from being exploited or abused.

Variety 2016

We need the romantic dramedy starring Dev Patel and Octavia Spencer pronto!

Sorry for the tardiness, y’all.

First, I haven’t written on this site in a long time. I’ve been dealing with Real World Stuff, so excuse me.

Second, I haven’t watched the Variety “Actors on Actors” interview between Dev Patel and Octavia Spencer until today, even though it’s been out since December of last year, the beginning of Oscar season. But I knew about it, and I knew about that picture from Patel and Spencer’s Variety photoshoot promoting the interview, and even then, I knew there was a film to be made with these two people as the leading actors.

Photo credit: Variety

Just look at them! Does this or does this not look like the poster for the best romantic dramedy of the year? It literally writes itself!

Yes, I know she’s 46 and he’s 26, so there’s literally a 20-year age difference, but that’s why this would be a romantic dramedy, wouldn’t it? The film would be all about this sensible 40-something woman with a stable job, a few good friends, but empty home life (maybe a divorcee, a widow, or perhaps just someone who thought she’d be an eternal bachelorette, unlucky in love) questioning herself for falling for someone she’d never think she’d fall for–a man in his 20s. The film would be all about her reckoning with societal standards, the opinions of her friends and family (both good and bad opinions), and finally with herself as she goes on the journey towards unlearning societal shame and going full-throttle with this man who, despite his age, has an old soul, clearly a soul that has been on Earth several times before.

Speaking of Patel’s character, his reaction to the whole thing would be to view it, as an old soul who is in its last incarnation on earth probably would view the situation, as a delightful surprise on his journey from the cradle to the grave. He’d see in her something he doesn’t see in the women his age, which is why he would have never kept a serious girlfriend around throughout his life, to the point where his some of his more unobservant family members might have started thinking he’s either gay or a player. His parents just wonder what magical girl it’s going to be that will finally grant them with the grandchildren they’ve always wanted but believe they’ll never get. In Spencer’s character, he’ll see a maturity that comes with getting knocked down by life and getting back up, having vulnerability, and having life experiences that girls his age haven’t had yet and probably wouldn’t know how to cope with. (Not to say that girls in their 20s aren’t vulnerable, but the girls that keep throwing themselves at Patel’s character wouldn’t be the brightest bulbs in the box; if I was writing this, the girls that would see him as a hard-to-get prize would be the girls who think all he needs is a good night in the club and some Cristal to loosen him up.)

Has Patel’s character himself had the life experiences Spencer’s character has had? Well, not in this lifetime, he hasn’t. But because his soul is so wizened beyond his body’s years, he can identify with the struggles and triumphs of the older set. But he would think it’s funny that it would still come as a sweet surprise to him that he, as a 20-something, desires older women. But him being who he is, all he needs to do is think about it for a second, but two and two together, and laugh about how obvious it is that of course, an old soul would desire an old soul.

Screenwriters, you may use this idea and all of the character building I’ve provided in this post, as long as you give me an “story by” or “based on a concept by” credit. Just something so I can get a small royalty check when this unseats the next Julia Roberts movie as the Oscar-worthy rom-dram of the season.

The interview itself backs up this imaginary tale. In it, you see how they both respond to each other in a warm, gentle, loving way. Now hear me–I’m not saying they’re dating in real life; the vibe is much more of profound respect, admiration, and dare I say maternal on Spencer’s part, which is something Patel himself points out about her personality–BUT, qualities such as mutual respect and admiration are a part of true love as well as deep friendship, right? These same qualities could be the building blocks for some talented screenwriter out there to write this script with Patel and Spencer specifically in mind.

In short, I’d watch this film in a heartbeat. Perhaps it could even help me get over my own ageist issues when it comes to dating either above or below my own age bracket. Also, I’d watch that other film I pitched featuring Patel and model Imaan Hammam. Basically, I’d watch any movie that treats both Patel with the respect he deserves as an actor. Ditto for Spencer. Come on, Hollywood–MAKE THIS MOVIE!

Got other movie ideas for Hollywood you want me to write about? At me on Twitter @moniqueblognet. 

This photoshoot of Dev Patel and Imaan Hammam is begging to be turned into a movie

Dear Hollywood:

When we, the viewing public, say we want more diversity in our films, this set of photos is exactly what we mean.

This December 2016 Vogue photoshoot features Oscar-nominated Dev Patel and model Imaan Hammam are giving you a full sweeping international romance in just a few stills. Check it:

I happened to see the pictures from a tweet by film director Matthew A. Cherry, and as Fusion Editor-in-Chief Dodai Stewart responded:

I second this emotion. They look so good together you kind of hate them.

The film I see is one where it’s a retro Hitchcock-esque romantic thriller. Hammam’s character is a 21st century Grace Kelly, a cool, collected woman who’s as glamourous as she is intelligent. She’s a rich socialite who’s living in gilded prison; for some reason, she has some dangerous men after her. Meanwhile, Patel is a former MI-6 agent who is assigned to protect her, which involves taking her to a safe house in Australia. At first, all Patel’s character wants to do is retire to the English countryside where he can raise sheep and indulge his first passion, oil painting. But as he explores the Australian outback with her, he slowly starts falling in love not only with the geography, but with her as well. Eventually, the mission becomes one of getting rid of the thugs chasing her, moving back to the English moors, and putting a ring on it. The movie ends with all of this being accomplished, the last shot being on Patel’s character finally outside of his country home, painting the rolling hills with Hammam’s character hugging him from behind.

Hollywood, if you made this movie, I would start saving my money now to see it at least six times in the theater.

What movie do you think is happening in these photos? Give me your thoughts!

2018 is a whole lot hotter with the new Haikus with Hotties calendar

In what’s become an annual tradition, Haikus with Hotties has released its 2018 calendar full of–you guessed it–hotties.

The calendar, created by writer Ada Tseng and features good-looking Asian dudes from all sectors of the media industry, is meant both as a play on the “beefcake” calendar as well as an important socio-political statement.

“Haikus With Hotties is a calendar series that highlights the attractive and talented Asian men in media that often don’t get as much attention as they deserve,” states the Haikus with Hotties website.

The lack of attention stems from stereotypes Asian men are still dogged by, such as being nerdy, feminine, and goofy, much like Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. (The “Long Duk Dong effect” was also tackled in a 2016 episode of Fresh off the Boat, in which Randall Park’s Louis Huang is afraid that he’s doing the Chinese equivalent of “cooning” as the recurring guest of a local news show.) But the stereotypes inherent in Long Duk Dong stem from decades of racist propaganda created by the U.S. from the 1800s onwards to create fear about Asian immigrants. The same stereotypes were used in World War II propaganda to keep America focused on defeating the Axis Powers, which included Japan. Between the 1800s to the 1940s, and certainly in the years after the war ended, these stereotypes have become part of the problem that keeps America from reaching its full potential as a democracy.

Those stereotypes once again became the subject of current events in January 2017, when Steve Harvey made a series of offensive jokes about Asian men and their supposed unattractiveness. To combat the stereotypes, Haikus with Hotties gifted Harvey a calendar.

If you still don’t get what’s being written here, just take a look at the Breakfast at Tiffany‘s character Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney), an older version of the same stereotypes Long Duk Dong represents (and yellowface on top of it), in comparison to actor/model Godfrey Gao in the summer 2015 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Men Thailand.

See how ridiculous these stereotypes are?

South Asian men also suffer from the same stereotypes, but now those stereotypes are also laced with Islamophobia. Still, the reality outweighs the stereotypes once you open your eyes to the truth. Take for instance another ’80s character, Short Circuit’s Ben Jabituya (Fisher Stevens), yet another role in which a white man is portraying an ethnic character, coupled with an extreme accent and gestures, and Dev Patel–who should be starring in tons of romantic comedies right now–from InStyle Magazine’s 2016 Oscar coverage for Lion.

Again, the reality outweighs the stereotype.

With that said, check out some of the images from the new 2018 calendar. This year, Iron Fist fan favorite and new Into the Badlands cast member Lewis Tan is featured, as well as Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu, queer/trans comedian, actor and writer and D’Lo, and Pretty Dudes star Yoshi Sudarso (pictured below with his brother, Power Rangers Hyperforce actor Peter Sudarso), among many more.

Want to see the rest? Check out Haikus with Hotties’ website and order your 2018 calendar!

This fanart gives us the Sherlock Holmes and John Watson we’ve been looking for

Sherlock left a sour taste in many mouths. From where I’m sitting, the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies aren’t that spectacular either. However, there’s one fan art that went viral, giving us Sherlock Holmes fans a salve for aching minds. It poses the question: What if Sherlock Holmes and John Watson were played by Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed?

Beka Duke

Beka Duke drew this after being inspired by the Oscars appearances of Patel and Ahmed, and the idea definitely has merit. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Victorian England represented as it was—which was certainly more diverse than popular culture would lead you to believe—and gave us a Sherlock and Watson that represented Britain’s colonialist reach through India and the Middle East?

Judging from the response the fan art got, there are tons of people who would love to see a brown Sherlock-John Watson duo. The response has been so overwhelming that fan art has been made of the fan art.

I would hope that if a film was made based on this fan art, that they would also follow Duke’s dissection of Sherlock’s personality, since it lines up with Sherlock’s actual personality shown in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, not pop culture’s “brooding, misanthropic” personality that has been grafted onto the character.

To quote her in part:

Ok, so this I feel is a pretty big one that people get wrong! Sherlock Holmes possesses an enormous confidence in his brain and in his work–and it is described as “bordering on arrogance” but not actual arrogance itself (at least most of the time, he does get on Watson’s nerves if he presumes too much, hah). When Holmes’ confidence is misplaced, he is quick to criticize himself, apologize to whomever, and move the heck on, so that he can fix things…which…the more arrogant portrayals of Holmes struggle to do. Also, Holmes is “eager” (probably the most used description in all the books) not because he is compensating, but because he just loves his job. Thusly, he isn’t as concerned with “getting his man” as he is with solving the crime/protecting innocents. You’d be surprised how many villains get away at the end of these books (Holmes believes they get their just desserts eventually).

  • “‘No, it is not selfishness or conceit,’ said he, answering, as was his won’t, my thoughts rather than my words. ‘If I claim full justice for my art, it is because it is an impersonal thing–a thing beyond myself. Crime is common. Logic is rare.’” (Mystery of the Copper Beeches)

You really need to read her whole post on Sherlock’s personality, because it’s pretty on-point.

What do you think of this fan art? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Being Asian in Hollywood: Actors, directors, and creators talk representation

(Top row, from left) Sinakhone Keodara, Jodi Long, Asia Jackson, Kesav Wable. (Bottom row from left) Quentin Lee, Mandeep Sethi, Kunjue Li, Chris Tashima. (Photos: IMDB, Twitter, Kesavmwable.com)
(Top row, from left) Sinakhone Keodara, Jodi Long, Asia Jackson, Kesav Wable. (Bottom row from left) Quentin Lee, Mandeep Sethi, Kunjue Li, Chris Tashima. (Photos: IMDB, Twitter, Kesavmwable.com)

Representation in Hollywood is an issue by itself, but Asian representation in Hollywood is near non-existent. With the state of Hollywood being that black equates to “diversity” (despite there being more types of diversity out there than just being black) and Asian characters are still overrun with stereotypes or whitewashing, Asian actors and actresses have had a tough uphill battle in breaking through the glass ceiling.

JUST ADD COLOR is all about exploring how all types of diversity are showcased in Hollywood, so I thought it would be fantastic to have an ongoing series called POC in Hollywood. First up, the Asian American experience in Hollywood. In this longform piece, we’ll take a closer look at some of the issues and biases plaguing Asian creatives in Hollywood.

This is a longform, so if you’d like to jump to specific parts, here’s the table of contents:

Whiteness as the default

IMDB
IMDB

Historically, Hollywood has used Asian locales and people as props, while white characters are given layered characteristics. In short, white characters have been treated as humans, while everyone and everything else are only developed in stereotypes.

The most recent examples of this include The Birth of the Dragon, in which a white character is used to frame Bruce Lee’s biopic, Doctor Strange, which sees Tilda Swinton playing an Asian role and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, which is a white character used to exploit a stereotypical Asian mysticism, Ghost in the Shell, which uses Japanese culture to frame Scarlett Johansson as The Major and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel series, which features India as a backdrop for white characters and Dev Patel playing a stereotypical Indian character.

“What’s particularly silly about The Birth of the Dragon is that they invented a fictional white character thinking that that would be what North American audience would want,” wrote Quentin Lee, The Unbidden director and founder of Margin Films in an email interview. “The filmmakers obviously fell flat on their faces. Not only it wasn’t historically accurate for the story, the film ended up insulting Bruce Lee and the audience who would support it. It was a creative misfire.”

Chris Tashima, an Academy-winning director for the 1998 short film Visas and Virtue and co-founder of Cedar Grove Productions, wrote that while he hasn’t seen The Birth of the Dragon yet, he found the basis of the film “ridiculous.”

“It’s understandable, why this has been the practice—being that traditionally, decision makers have been white males, and like anyone else, will want to see stories about themselves, and that audiences have traditionally been thought of as young, white males,” he wrote. “However, all of that is changing. It has been changing for a while, and it’s easy to see where it’s going: towards a diverse world. That’s an old practice and you’d think Hollywood would want to project, and put themselves on the cutting edge, and be more inclusive. It’s old, and tired, and more and more, I think audiences will want to see something different, something more truthful.”

“I think the overarching theme that runs through how Hollywood/the West represents POCs has to do with the ease with which they are able to strip POCs of agency over their own stories,” wrote Kesav Wable, Brooklyn-based actor, writer, 2011 HBO American Black Film Festival finalist for his short film, For Flow and Sundance lab short-listed screenwriter for a script about a Pakistani boxer wrongfully accused of planning a terror attack.

“This may come across as a bit exaggerated or radical, but I do believe that there is a link between white imperialist concepts such as ‘manifest destiny’ and ‘white man’s burden,’ which validated a lot of the literal takings from POCs that happened throughout earlier periods in civilized history, and now, in a media-hungry world where information, content, and stories are the most valuable currencies, there is an analogous “taking” of the narratives that POCs have lived through. By depicting POC characters through the lens of a white character, it enables white audiences to keep POCs’ stories at arm’s length, and to not completely empathize with those characters because they are not given the complete human dignity and complexity that is afforded the white character.”

“Perhaps, this, in a way, damps down the guilt that white audiences may feel if the POCs stories/circumstances have to do with the literal takings that were exacted by their ancestors. Or it’s just good for a cheap laugh. The truly insidious effect of POCs being usurped from their own narratives is that, even many of us POCs begin to start viewing things through a white lens and stop questioning whether these stories truly represent who we are because of how pervasive white-controlled media is.”

Wable used the upcoming film Happy End, which is about a bourgeois European family living amid the current refugee crisis. “Granted, I haven’t seen the film, so it’d be presumptive of me to conclude that refugees are not conferred with dignity/complexity as characters, but the very thought that French filmmakers think that shining a light on a bourgeois family with the refugee crisis as a ‘backdrop’ can be instructive about their world, speaks volumes about what it is white people are most interested in; themselves,” he wrote. “In this case, apparently, the context is a rueful rumination on their own blindness to the refugees’ plight. Somehow the irony of the very film’s existence as a manifestation of that blindness seems to be lost on them.”

Mandeep Sethi, filmmaker and emcee, also discussed about Hollywood’s tendencies to erase non-white people from their own stories. “I think centralizing POC stories around white characters is Hollywood’s way of taking a black or brown story and making it about white people,” he said. “Our culture is full of amazing stories and histories and Hollywood loves to cherry pick what they like but leave out the real nitty gritty including the people who created, interacted, and setup that story.”

Dev Patel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. (Twentieth Century Fox/IMDB)
Dev Patel in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. (Twentieth Century Fox/IMDB)

Sinakhone Keodara, founder CEO of Asian Entertainment Television and host of Asian Entertainment Tonight, wrote that Hollywood’s penchant for using whiteness as a default is “a heinous tradition that is long overdue for a change.”

“Rather than trying to normalize Asian presence on screen to a wide American audience, Hollywood often goes the tired, well-worn and ‘safe’ route of using a white character in an attempt to more easily relate the character to a majority white American audience.  It’s cheap and unnecessary, because the proper and more effective way of relating a character to an audience is writing a character with emotional depth,” he said. “Ethnicity informs and colors our individual and community experiences, but emotion transcends ethnic boundaries.  With political correctness aside, Hollywood needs to stop engaging in a form of neo-emotional and neo-psychological colonialism against people of color, especially Asians by injecting whiteness into our stories.”

“I think that centralizing PoC stories around white characters is always going to happen as long as the people telling these stories are white,” wrote Asia Jackson, an actress, model and content creator. “What Hollywood needs is not only diversity on-camera, but to also make greater efforts to allow filmmakers of color to tell their own stories.”

Jodi Long, an actress who was a castmember of the first Asian American TV sitcom All-American Girl and member of the actors branch of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, wrote that while whiteness as the default is the reality in Hollywood, a study shows a much needed change in film. “I just saw a new study The Inclusion Quotient done by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media where the reality in terms of box office is changing, where women and diverse actors in lead roles are now performing extremely well,” she wrote. “Money talks in Hollywood but we still have to get beyond the implicit (unconscious) bias that factors into which projects get greenlit based on outmoded ways of thinking.”

Scarlett Johansson as The Major (Major Kusanagi) in Ghost in the Shell. (Paramount)
Scarlett Johansson as The Major (Major Kusanagi) in Ghost in the Shell. (Paramount)

Kunjue Li, Ripper Street actress and founder of China Dolls Productions Ltd., also addressed how money rules Hollywood, despite Hollywood not making the audience demand actually work for them financially. “I don’t think [whitewashing] is the right thing to do, and second of all, I don’t think it’s very commercial,” she said. “…[I]f they want to sell to Chinese audiences, which is the second biggest film market, then they need to tell a Chinese story…I think you have to tell a Chinese story [with] a Chinese cast.”

“If the film [was] an an American-Chinese co-production, [it would] actually help with the film itself because then it doesn’t have to go through the quota system…which means that only 30 percent of foreign films are allowed to show in China markets every year. If they do it as a co-production, then they get 1/3 of Chinese funding, but they have to have 1/3 of a Chinese [cast]. They’ll have one-third of Chinese funding, they’ll have domestic showings, they don’t have to go through the quota system, it’s much more feasible. Commercially, [whitewashing] doesn’t even work. I don’t understand why people keep doing that.”

Next: The pain of exoticism

Oscars Fallout: Many Sound Off on Program’s Stereotypical Asian Jokes

Yesterday, tons of people gave their two cents on Chris Rock’s Oscars monologue. The monologue itself has been met with a range of emotions, from delight to disgust (you can read my opinion here). But it’s the jokes outside of the monologue that made people justifiably upset, especially since the jokes were a part of a night dedicated towards ending the diversity glass ceiling in Hollywood. Towards the end of the night, two tasteless jokes reared their ugly heads, and both made fun of Asians.

First, Sacha Baron Cohen, as his poser character Ali G., crudely compared the Minions to Asian men by using the phrase “little yellow people” and invoking sexual stereotyping.

Apparently, Baron Cohen was supposed to do his bit with Olivia Wilde straight, but he had his wife, actress Isla Fisher, sneak in his Ali G. costume. “The Oscars sat me down beforehand and said they didn’t want me to do anything out of order, they wanted me to actually just present it as myself,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain (as reported by the Guardian). “But luckily my wife put on the Ali G beard in the disabled toilets and I managed to get away with it.” In order to put the whole costume on while in the bathroom, they pretended Baron Cohen had food poisoning. According to what Baron Cohen said, Rock gave him “the thumbs up” to go ahead with the stunt after meeting with Rock to quickly pitch him his idea.

Second, when Rock opened the part of the show usually dedicated to introducing the accountants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, he introduced three Asian kids. While the kids were cute, the joke wasn’t.

“As they clutched briefcases, they visually illustrated the stereotype that Asians are diligent workers who excel at math,” wrote the New York TimesMelena Ryzik. “‘If anybody’s upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids,’ Mr. Rock added, a punch line interpreted as a reference to child labor in Asia.”

These jokes were tone-deaf, seeing how the entire tone of the night was one berating Hollywood for its tone-deafness when it comes to black actors and actresses. At worst, the jokes showed how there are implicit biases even in intra-racial and intra-ethnic relations that need to be deleted. As pointed out in yesterday’s “5 of the Top Moments from the Oscars” post, it would have been great if Rock had discussed how all minorities are marginalized in Hollywood, since that is actually what #OscarsSoWhite is about. To quote #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign from her exclusive interview with JUST ADD COLOR:

I think it’s unnecessarily limiting and I think it’s unfortunate that they can’t get out of that box for themselves because I’m not in that box…It’s not clear to me why people think that is. I don’t know if it’s because I’m black and they can’t see past who I am and understand that I’m multifaceted, or if it’s just easier for them to think in binary terms. But that’s not what #OscarsSoWhite is about at all. Race is just one portion of it; it’s all marginalized communities, and within race, it’s not just black people; it’s definitely about Asian people. It ‘s definitely about Latinos and Latinas and Hispanics. It’s about everyone who should be represented on the screen.

As Rebecca Sun for The Hollywood Reporter points out, the Oscars welcomed Asian stars Byung-hun Lee, Priyanka Chopra, Dev Patel and other POC stars as presenters for many reasons (which can make up its own post), one of them being that they are also a part of the large demographic the Academy (and by extension, Hollywood itself) should represent more, a demo that obviously isn’t limited only to black people. While black actors and actresses don’t get cast as much as they should, Asian, Latino and Native actors and actresses get cast at an even smaller rate:

What’s equally as sad is that Rock had proven himself to be the right guy to take on Hollywood for its transgressions, both in his career and, by several accounts, earlier that night in his monologue.

“For most of the Oscars, Chris Rock proved himself once again to be a dynamic truth-teller abut systemic racism, managing not only to make pointed comedy out of #OscarsSoWhite but to keep it front and center long after his biting opening monologue. Then, about two-thirds through, he took a break to make an Asian joke,” wrote Lowen Liu for Slate. Jeff Yang wrote for Quartz about how he flipped in between the #JusticeforFlint event and coverage of the Oscars, ready to be entertained by Rock’s wit. “[W]hile I had decided to refrain from watching, the prospect of bringing the pain to a theater full of Hollywood’s most cream-colored creme de la creme was awfully tempting. And so, I cheated: I kept a tab open during his monologue and monitored the reactions of my friends to his blistering assault on the Academy Awards’ embarrassing whiteness,” he wrote. “…But my amusement was shortlived.”

Many actors, actresses, and even NBA star Jeremy Lin tweeted their disapproval and disappointment in the jokes.

So far, there’s been no word from Rock or his camp re: his Asian jokes.

This controversy has ignited conversation about the role minority activists should play. As Al Jazeera asks, “Should minorities advocate for one another?”

As stated in the Oscars article Monday, if I was tasked with hosting the Oscars, I would have made sure to advocate for all minorities and oppressed people, because we’re all in this fight together. I wouldn’t have specifically only discussed the black acting pool, because the #OscarsSoWhite issue affects more than just the black acting pool. However, that’s how I’d do it. The question of if minorities should advocate for one another should be a resounding yes. The unspoken question, though, seems to be if Chris Rock should have been (at least on Oscar night) that particular minority activist who does advocate for others. As to what Rock feels about his own performance and how he should proceed in the future can be answered by Rock himself, but the disappointment the jabs at Asian stereotypes caused is something that will linger for a while and, hopefully (like all disappointment should) lead to increased action to make sure all people properly represented by the media (including jokes).

What did you think about the off-putting jokes? Give your opinions in the comments section!