Social Media Campaign Fights Hollywood Whitewashing
#StarringJohnCho inserts the Asian-American actor into leading film roles
Whether it was Scottish-American actor Mickey Rooney playing Mr. Yunioshi, the irritable Japanese landlord in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961), or Danish- and Russian-American actress Scarlett Johansson cast as Japanese heroine Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell (2017), Hollywood has a long history of casting European actors into roles written for minorities. Last week, a social media campaign popped up that literally showed what it would look like if today’s biggest blockbusters cast an Asian-American lead. Created by digital strategist William Yu, #StarringJohnCho photoshops the Korean-American actor John Cho into the roles of William Traynor in Me Before You, Captain America in The Avengers, Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible, and several others.
Each poster spans genres showing that Asian men can easily be accepted as anything from a romantic lead to action hero.
While Yu picked Cho because of his commercial success and presence in franchises such as Star Trek and Harold & Kumar, he could have easily picked another high profile actor such as Steven Yeun (Walking Dead), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), or Daniel Dae Kim (Lost/Hawaii Five-0). After its launch, #StarringJohnCho has also inspired a female version inserting Fresh Off the Boat‘s Constance Wu into films as a leading lady.
While #StarringJohnCho may do little to produce immediate change, it does invite conversation around race in Hollywood beyond black and white while challenging the notion that there are not any bankable Asian stars. The man at the epicenter of this campaign, John Cho, has remained relatively quiet on the subject, but did tweet out this message of support: