Watch ‘Last Week Tonight’ Explain Hollywood Whitewashing in Four Minutes
There’s not shortage of controversy around this year’s Oscars. But there is a shortage of roles for people of color in Hollywood — or at least that’s the argument that tends to get made by those who think that it’s not fair to blame the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for selecting an all-white field of acting nominees (for the second year in a row). The fault, they claim, lies with the Hollywood filmmakers who don’t make opportunities for actors of color in the first place. The system of honoring actors is merely a reflection, supposedly, of the larger system of moviemaking, and all its flaws.
There could be some truth to that. But as the video above from Last Week Tonight shows, there are roles for actors of various races; they just tend to get played by white actors. The stars of the Egypt-set Exodus: Gods and Kings? All white. How about the half-Asian female lead in Aloha? Oh that’s Emma Stone (she, uh, she is not half-Asian). Even in porn parodies (like The Walking Dead Plus Hardcore Zombie Sex, or whatever it’s called), minority roles get whitewashed. Yikes.
You might be forgiving of examples from 50 years ago, because that was a different time. (Then again, you might not.) But either way, there are also examples in that video from movies that open later this month. (Hi, almost-all-white cast of Gods of Egypt!) As Last Week Tonight puts it, how is this still a thing? For more examples of this subject, check out ScreenCrush’s own history of white actors playing other races: