By Vivian Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly
With November officially underway and Daylight Savings in effect, it’s time to hunker down for the winter season and get ready for the holiday festivities. Even though we’ve turned back the clocks, we’re going to jump back briefly to chat about last month’s news! Read on to find out the latest in pop culture.
SAG-AFTRA leader passes away
Hollywood has lost a bright star and activist. Sumi Sevilla Haru, known as the longtime leader of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), passed away last month in Los Angeles. She was 75.
Haru, who served as interim president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1995, was widely known in the entertainment industry as being the first and only woman of color to serve as president. She joined SAG in 1968 and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) in 1972, serving as a national board member for both organizations. In both roles, she worked hard to aid the movement to create opportunities for Asian Americans in the media.To mirror her advancement of Asian Americans in film and television, Haru refused to audition for any stereotypical roles in her own acting career, eschewing the clichéd maid or dragon lady roles that often plague Asian American female actors. She also spoke out against the use of yellowface and the discrimination of Asian actors in Hollywood.
Though some readers may be unfamiliar with Haru, it is important to acknowledge and remember her work. Often, people assume that it’s just minority actors that pave the road for Asian American actors in Hollywood — but it’s also the people behind the scenes, like Haru, who crusaded to advance opportunities for Asian Americans. After all, it is the people behind the scenes who wield the most ability and power to actually put those faces of color on the small and silver screens.
The industry will miss you, Haru. May you rest in peace.
Scarlett Johansson offered lead in “Ghost in Shell”
Speaking of Haru’s cause, Caucasian actress Scarlett Johansson was recently offered the lead in the live-action remake of the classic manga and anime “Ghost in Shell.” Johansson may possibly be playing cyborg cop Major Motoko Kusanagi, who is a fictional Asian female character in the original anime. And for those unaware, Johansson is leagues away from being Asian.
It is still unclear whether this “Ghost in Shell” remake will be set in future Japan, like the original version. If the film is remade to be more palatable for Hollywood audiences — as in, making the characters Caucasian for American audiences — then I suppose it wouldn’t matter whether or not Johansson accepted the role.
Of course, that presents a completely different concern. Why does Hollywood need to whitewash everything? It’s already bad enough that there’s the possibility of relocating the film for American audiences. But nothing screams whitewashed more than casting Caucasian actors for characters that were originally Asian.
Chinese Canadian girls storm into television
If popular reality television has taught us anything, it’s that watching rich people do absolutely nothing is an endless fountain of viewing fascination. This must be what was running through the minds of a Vancouver, BC-based television production company who, earlier this year, posted an open audition advertisement searching for “Ultra Rich Asian Girls” in the greater Vancouver area.
The result of their search? The new reality show is called “HBICtv.” As in, Hot (Expletive) In Charge TV. “HBICtv” spotlights four young, privileged Chinese Canadian women as they pursue their ideal, dream careers — all while living an enviable, luxurious lifestyle (on their parents’ dime, of course).
The official description for the show describes the cast as “young independent women starting their life and careers with the newest Hermes Birken bags and YSL shoes, while vying for the status of #HBIC ‘Hot Bitch in Charge.’” In short, this sounds like the Asian Canadian equivalent of “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” You’ve been warned.
For those curious, “HBICtv” is available for viewing on YouTube. I won’t lie. I’m a little tempted to watch the show.
I’ve always been a sucker for trainwrecks. How about you fine people watch it for me and let me know how it is? (end)
Vivian Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.