Got linked to this video by MovieBytes that briefly addresses whitewashing in Hollywood. It provides a pretty good overview of a number of films that have had whitewashing in them recently including Argo, Extraordinary Measures, Batman, 21, and Prince of Persia.
There are some parts of the video that were kind of nail biting, like referring to race as a “touchy” issue (uh huh) and arguing that “black men have surpassed white women in representation in films” (ehhh that’s intersectionality and male privilege coming into play.) Also, both examples of Hispanic actors, Benecio DelToro and Javier Bardem, are from Spain. (Sadly, the most popular Hispanic actors in US are often not Latin@s from the United States; I would argue that Europeans from Spain have very different experiences from say, Chicanos in California.)
But I do think the narrator does a good job calling out one very common derailing tactic:
The derailment tactic that often comes into play is that certain ethnicities are basically “Caucasian” or “white” (particularly Indo-European, Middle Eastern, and Latino cultures) so it doesn’t matter if a white actor is cast to play the role of the Prince of Persia or Bane, etc. Hence all of the “but Bane found out when he was 30 that his dad may or may not have been Thomas Wayne and then later found out that his dad was actually British so why are you offended by this non-whitewashing!1!111!” without taking into account that plenty of people of color around the world (due to a number of factors, including Imperialism and colonialism, historically) are part white but still people of color. And MovieBytes points out, that if these ethnicities are basically “white and “if it doesn’t matter, why not cast Latino and Persian actors?”
The other half of the equation, of course, is that if these ethnicities are really and truly racialized as white, then why aren’t PoC Latino and Persian actors regularly depicting white characters in movies? Playing leading roles on the same level as Tom Hardy, Ben Affleck, and Jake Gyllenhaal? Because the differential racialization used by Hollywood and mainstream society is different from any textbook definition based off of the Caucasus mountains.
And telling someone disappointed about not being represented that Bane’s dad was British doesn’t make the fact that there are barely any PoC in the Nolan Batverse—when there could have been some—any less marginalizing or okay.
This, but isn’t Benicio Del Toro Puerto Rican with some Amerindian ancestry?