Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brody's Notes... George Takei Chastises Warner Brothers For Whitewashing Adaptation Of Japanese Film

George Takei
Photo via Human Rights Campaign
By Brody Levesque (Bethesda, Maryland) APR 16 | Actor George Takei, who has made his mark fighting for equality rights as an openly gay activist for LGBTQ causes, particularly same-sex marriage and more recently with senior citizen issues taping adverts for the social security administration, is now battling reverse racial typecasting by circulating a petition against the "whitewashing" of a Japanese graphic novel series being adapted for the big screen as a live-action movie.
Joining in with thousands of others, Takei, wants to ensure that the Legendary Pictures adaptation of the 1988 Japanese animated cyberpunk science fiction film, Akira, will star Asian actors instead of the slate of white actors being courted to join the cast, such as possibly featuring Robert Pattinson for the role of Tetsuo and Justin Timberlake for the role of Kaneda.
Akira was written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, who based it on his manga novel of the same name, and is set in a futuristic and post-war city, Neo-Tokyo, in the year 2019. The film's plot focuses on Shotaro Kaneda, a biker gang member, as he tries to stop Tetsuo Shima from releasing Akira. The film became a hugely popular cult film and is widely considered to be a landmark in Japanese animation and film making in general.
Hollywood Film and Television critic Dan Hopper notes:
The long-rumored live-action Hollywood remake of the 1988 Japanese Anime film Akira is beginning to take shape, and the actors on the short list for the two lead roles — Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Joaquin Phoenix — all have onnnne tiny thing in common: They’re all somewhat not Japanese.
The film would take place in “Neo-New York” instead of Neo Tokyo, but the main characters would retain their original names, Shotaro Kaneda and Tetsuo Shima. This wouldn’t be the first time Hollywood has de-Asianized a project, and frankly, it was kind of predictable.
Yesterday Takei tweeted: "Akira epic fail--all actors up for Kaneda & Tetsuo are white?"  "Sign & RT the petition here: [ Link ]
The film is being produced by Warner Brothers Studios and Legendary Pictures.