Does Hollywood attempt to cast major characters as white when possible, even if the original script has the character casted otherwise? Despite having a track record of championing liberal causes, according to comedian Aasif Mandvi, Hollywood “whitewashes” it’s leading characters and it’s downright blatant.
Mandvi, who penned an op-ed for Salon.com on the issue, appeared on “CNN Newsroom” on Tuesday to voice his frustration with Hollywood and explained that what he calls “whitewashing” is standard operating procedure.
“Well, because I think, you know, I think this practice of whitewashing in Hollywood has been going on for a long time,” Mandvi said. “And I think the problem is that there’s this attitude that, sort of, you know, white is the normal and everything else is not. And so there’s this kind of idea that a lot of times roles that originally come from sources — like comic books or novels and things like that — are ethnic roles, are often given to white actors when it’s converted into a film.”
Mandvi, who often appears as the “brown correspondent” on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” pointed to “The Hunger Games” as one example, which he says is a throwback to the past.
“Most recently ‘The Hunger Games’ or stuff like that, where you have a white actor playing what was an ethnic role in the novel,” he continued. “And so, I think this upsets a lot of ethnic people — ethnic actors — because this was, this is something that is perpetuated by Hollywood and this idea that white is the norm and if you want to identify with the hero — identify with the person on the screen — he or she has to be white. And America’s not the same as it was 50 years ago and I think those things should change now. “
One argument is that it makes economic sense for Hollywood to cast these characters as white because it’s who the people that pay to see the movies identify with best, but Mandvi argued that that mindset is one from decades past.
“[I] think it’s a larger issue of expanding that because America is — 50 years ago you could almost excuse it but today, you know, you do have a much more multi-ethnic society and much more multicultural society and the world is smaller,” Mandvi said. “Hollywood exports these films across the world and, you know, now with the Internet and Facebook, we’re much more aware of the multiculturalism that we all live within and I think that Hollywood doesn’t reflect that in the way it probably should.”
“I think it’s just a mindset that exists from a long time ago, you know that like I said white is the sort of norm,” Mandvi added. “If we want to project ourselves onto the screen in the form of a hero or heroine, that person has to be white. And that’s been sold to us for decades.”