Oh, look. Yet another distinctly Asian role in the upcoming live-action Akira has been offered to a white person. In a move that surprised no one, Jaume Collet-Sera offered the role of Kei (Kaneda’s Girlfriend) to the exceedingly bored-looking Kristen Stewart. Maybe this will finally cheer her up.
Twitch broke the story, and had this to say:
Stewart is a choice that makes sense on most levels – she’s certainly talented and has name recognition far above most in her generation – but also concerning in that none of the Twilight cast, Stewart included, have been able to find any sort of success outside of that franchise with Twilight fans not caring what any of them do elsewhere and everyone else generally staying away because of the Twilight stigma. Could this break the trend if Stewart accepts? Possibly – that it’s more of a support role than a lead will help – but it’s a somewhat risky move.
Twitch, I’m disappointed in you. How is this a risky move? She was already in The Runaways, and I believe we’ve covered her role in Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s not risky to cast Kristen Stewart–it’s pathetically safe. The cast of this film sounds like a bad joke–one of ours, in fact.
I don’t want to talk about Stewart. I believe in my heart of hearts that she has a lot of talent when applied to the correct project. She might be a cool person, too. Whatever. I do want to talk about the systemic whitewashing of Hollywood to make these flicks more palatable to white America. Hollywood may be a business, but that means that you have a stake in it as a consumer.
Are we going to reframe the titular character of Akira as the only Japanese person in the film? What does that do to the story? Instead of a bunch of kids trying to deal with science gone wrong and social issues beyond understanding… we have the Japanese monster who destroyed Neo New York before the start of the film. It suddenly takes on a tinge of xenophobia with a hint of “noble savage” at the end. You can’t simply make a 1 Japanese person = 1 American person equation. Cultural tropes don’t work that way.
Seriously, though, when are we going to stop this? George Takei, can you help us?