Friday, November 02, 2012
Movie attacked over 'yellowface' make-up
Someone seems to have lost sight of the fact that movies are allowed to be unrealistic
Cloud Atlas, Warner Bros' $100 million adaptation of the novel by David Mitchell, has been criticised by Asian-Americans after casting white Western actors in "yellowface" make-up. Directed by Tom Tykwer and Lana and Andy Wachowski, the film stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent in a narrative that hops between countries and across the centuries.
"It's an artistically ambitious approach to film-making," said Guy Aoki, founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans. "Unfortunately it reflects the same old racial pecking order that the entertainment industry has been practising for years."
Aoki was particularly concerned by a segment set in a futuristic South Korea, in which actors Jim Sturgess, James D'Arcy and Hugo Weaving are made up to play Asian characters.
"Every major male character in the Korean story is played by non-Asian actors in really bad yellowface make-up," he said. "The Asian-Americans at the [preview] screening burst out laughing because [Weaving] looked terrible - like a Vulcan on Star Trek."
The Media Action Network went on to contrast the Korean segment with a sequence in the South Pacific starring Afro-British actor David Gyasi as a Maori slave. "You have to ask: would the directors have used blackface on a white actor to play Gyasi's role?" Aoki said. "I don't think so: that would have outraged African-Americans. But badly done yellowface is still OK."