The Problem with White-Washing in Hollywood

The Problem with White-Washing in Hollywood



The unfortunate societal truth behind whitewashing shows how Hollywood’s adoration of its own reputation is more important than its respect for cultural identities.

In the entertainment industry, the use of white actors to replace roles frequently originating from other races often occurs and is known as whitewashing. Many roles in Hollywood that stem from non-white races are handed to white actors which distracts from the culture some movies should be expressing. In recent news, Disney’s Mulan has been going in a direction that fans of the original animated classic are enraged about: not only potentially using a white Mulan, but potentially using a white male-lead by her side.

Replacing Mulan as a white woman defeats all purposes and morals of the original story. So, tell me how a 12th century Chinese ballad featuring bold Chinese woman from the heart of China is now suddenly white? It should not be socially acceptable to close mindedly replace these races with white people whose ancestors were once depicted as higher class over the races they are replacing, yet it is.

Also, featuring a white male lead is not only whitewashing in a film solely based off Chinese culture, but it is also distracting to the fact that Mulan tells the story of a woman’s independence, especially among young women. Mulan stands as a figure who stays strong in the face of adversity and by placing a male by her side puts a weighted imagine into young girls heads that having a male figure is prominent in becoming oneself and staying secure in life.

Both Disney and Sony are set to remake the movie, Disney in November of 2018, and a Sony release date to be announced at a later date. Disney has confirmed the news of a potential white Mulan is now out of the picture based on the backlash, and are now doing a nationwide search for an Asian actress to fit the role. Sony’s remake is set to have a large Asian cast but has a script written by white American playwright, Jason Keller.

Care 2 Petitions, a petition site with over 38 million members, is sick of Disney’s all too common whitewashing in Hollywood and stands for change in the industry. Their petition to “save” Mulan has over 110,000 signatures, and since the petition Disney announced that they were no longer interested in casting a white actress to take Mulan’s place. You can sign the petition here to have your voice heard: ttp://

This is only one out of many cases of whitewashing in high budget Hollywood films. Michael Winterbottom’s 2007 film, A Mighty Heart, starring Angelina Jolie, is extremely whitewashed. The film is an exact representation of how high profile actors, regardless of race, are more important than someone racially suitable for a role. Jolie’s once originally Afro-Cuban character is butchered in the film through her culturally appropriated afro curls and inaccurate African accent. These incidents happen more often than one might think; more whitewashed movies include Argo, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Last Airbender, and many more. These issues create societal boundaries socially, economically, and politically based on the stereotypes films like these demonstrate.