Many people have read Ben Mezrich’s book, “Bringing Down the House,” about a team of MIT students that take on the casinos of Las Vegas and make a killing. It’s a fascinating read and a great story. It’s so great, in fact, that it’s being made into a movie called 21, starring Kevin Spacey as the MIT professor who put together this gambling team. Sounds great, right? Right.
OH WAIT… There’s one little detail the casting directors and producers forgot to take into account. See, the actual team of students was comprised mostly of Asian males. (You can probably see where I’m going with this…) So take a wiiiild guess as to what Hollywood decided to do! That’s right. Most of the team have been replaced by nice-looking white folks like Kate Bosworth and Jim Sturgess. Here’s an excerpt from an article on Ben Mezrich and his book:
Incidentally, Mezrich’s “Bringing Down the House” is now being turned into a feature film by Kevin Spacey, who will play the MIT professor who trained the blackjack team described in that book. During the talk, Mezrich mentioned the stereotypical Hollywood casting process — though most of the actual blackjack team was composed of Asian males, a studio executive involved in the casting process said that most of the film’s actors would be white, with perhaps an Asian female. Even as Asian actors are entering more mainstream films, such as “Better Luck Tomorrow” and the upcoming “Memoirs of a Geisha,” these stereotypes still exist, Mezrich said.
COME ON, Hollywood! Here was yet another chance to show how far they’ve progressed and they managed to fuck it up. Again. And this time, it wasn’t even like they were just making up some story and threw in some nerdy Chinese kids or a Korean grocery store owner with a hilarious accent. This time, they insisted on portraying people that ARE ACTUALLY ASIAN with people THAT ARE NOT ASIAN IN THE LEAST.
Yes, they did throw us a bone by casting Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira as part of the team… And big, huge kudos to those two for getting in there! But really, Mr. or Ms. Casting Director… You couldn’t justify any more Asians in there, huh? They just don’t sell very well as three-dimensional, compelling, LEAD characters, do they? Yeah, I guess you’re right… Just give ‘em a couple of supporting roles and that’ll placate those little Asians, right?
Ugh. Anyhow, so rather than rage against the film machine out in California, I’ve decided to end this entry with something more powerful than anger. Something all of us Asian Americans have experienced time and again at the hands of our parents and family… That’s right. Guilt and shame!
“Hollywood, you really disappointed me. Shame on you!” [shakes fist for good measure]