Margaret Cho Calls Out Swinton, Damon, and Johansson For Whitewashing

When Marvel Studios announced they had cast Tilda Swinton to star as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, there was shock and surprise, in forms both good and bad.

On the one hand, many people respected the talents of Swinton and couldn't wait to see her contribution to a Marvel film, not to mention the fact that a woman would play a role that was famously a man.

On the other hand, it didn't matter that the gender was swapped for the film, as an Asian character was now being turned into a white person.

While preparing for her role, Swinton reached out to comedian Margaret Cho to discuss the issue of "whitewashing," making characters of other ethnicities caucasian, which didn't really seem to erase the issue.

Cho question Swinton's motivations to post the emails when discussing the issue with podcast Allegedly with Theo Von & Matthew Cole Weiss, saying, "I don't even know why she did that because it doesn't make her seem like she's really getting her point across."

The comedian joked that the only reason Swinton posted the emails was a defensive act, saying, "That's what happens when white people get mad."

Cho added that the two haven't been in touch since the emails have been posted.

However, the comedian doesn't hold anything against Swinton, as she pointed out, "I don't have any sort of issues with her." She added. "I think her casting in Doctor Strange was not the best. I think she's a great actress, I think that this particular role should have been played by an Asian American or an Asian. An Asian role should be played by an Asian actor."

Swinton was not the first, and surely won't be the last, white person to be cast as a character that was originally Asian.

In the upcoming fantasy epic The Great Wall, Matt Damon stars as a lead character set on the Chinese landmark.

In regards to a white man acting as a savior for Asian people, Cho thinks, "It's bulls**t. It's not anything that makes any sense."

Yet another example of whitewashing is the upcoming live-action adaptation of the anime classic Ghost in the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson in the lead role.

"Movies that are based on anime, like Ghost In the Shell, starring Scarlett Johansson? She's doesn't make any sense," Cho pondered. "I just can't understand why Hollywood doesn't really embrace these ideas, these Asian actors playing Asian roles. It's such a backwards thing."

Despite the director of The Great Wall explaining why Matt Damon's casting isn't whitewashing and the director of the original Ghost in the Shell praising the adaptation, Cho's arguments have plenty of merit.


Head over to Allegedly with Theo Von & Matthew Cole Weiss to listen to the whole thing.

[H/T TooFab]