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"Whitewashing" is a term used to describe the adaptation of works of an originally ethnic origin to suit the perceived majority preference for Caucasian leads, Western settings, or both. This often occurs in adaptations of anime or manga works into films intended for American audiences. The name derives from whitewash, a cheap paint that could be quickly applied over many surfaces to give a uniform but short-term improvement in appearance.[citation needed]

Notable examples

Year Film Actor/s & Role Notes
1989 True Believer James Woods as Eddie Dodd
  • The film is loosely based on an investigative series of articles written by Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist K. W. Lee on the conviction of immigrant Chol Soo Lee for a 1973 San Francisco Chinatown gangland murder. The news coverage led to a new trial, eventual acquittal and release of the prisoner from San Quentin's Death Row. Screenwriter Wesley Strick based the character of Eddie Dodd on real-life Bay Area defense attorney Tony Serra.
  • K.W. Lee told the Charleston Gazette he enjoyed the film "as fiction – but it was not a true picture. They have completely preempted the struggle of Asians."[1]
1997 Starship Troopers Casper Van Dien as Juan "Johnnie" Rico Juan Rico is Filipino in the book, in the films Starship Troopers (1997) and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008), John Rico is played by Casper Van Dien. A report in American Cinematographer around the film's release states the Heinlein novel was optioned well into the pre-production period of the film, which had a working title of Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine; most of the writing team reportedly were unaware of the novel at the time. According to the DVD commentary, Paul Verhoeven never finished reading the novel, claiming he read through the first few chapters and became both "bored and depressed."[2]
2004 Legend of Earthsea Shawn Ashmore as Ged A loose adaptation of the award-winning Earthsea novels by Ursula K. Le Guin. It premiered as a two-night television event on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2004. Le Guin was not involved in the development of the material or the making of the production and has written a number of responses to the mishandling of this adaptation of her works, including "A Whitewashed Earthsea"[3] and "Frankenstein's Earthsea"[4].

See also

Further reading

  • Prasso, Sheridan. The Asian Mystique: dragon ladies, geisha girls, & our fantasies of the exotic orient.


External links

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