I was asked to publicize this post by Racebending.com: Akira adaptation courts white actors. Hollywood is turning the Japanese graphic novel Akira into a movie, and they’re turning the Japanese main characters into White main characters. From racebending.com:
For the role of Tetsuo: Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy.
For the role of Kaneda: Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.
Hollywood is once again playing its old games. First 21, then the Last Airbender, and now Akira. (That’s oversimplifying it, of course. Racebending happens all the time when the originals happen to be Asian.)
Racebending is doing an excellent job of highlighting all the whitewashing that goes on in American movies. I don’t know what can be done about this–other than complaining every time it happens–but I do think it’s good to be aware, just so you’ve got some intellectual ammunition when people say that racism is a thing of the past or that the media is neutral. Tons of Asian American male actors are looking for work in the American film industry. They aren’t going to find it in this movie, at least not as main characters.