Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
It’s shouldn’t be news that Hollywood has a problem in how it views the Asian community, but let’s take a fresh look at exactly how rotten the perspective is.
1) Michael Lewis is the award-winning writer of the books Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short, and others. Those three books have each been made into successful films, garnering Oscar nominations and wins as well as healthy box office.
2) Aaron Sorkin was attached to adapt Lewis’ Flash Boys for Sony. Sorkin’s track record as a Hollywood screenwriter is also respectable, and he’s one of those rare screenwriters whose name can in fact sell tickets on its own.
3) Based solely on the above, we have two statements we can make:
(a) Aaron Sorkin’s comments last March, in which he expressed surprise that Hollywood has a diversity problem, are rendered false on their face, since the emails discovered in this Sony hack indicate that he was a willing participant in perpetuating this very issue.
(b) Sony and others seem to consider the possibility of an Asian lead to be so detrimental to their bottom line that not even the otherwise solid bets represented by Lewis and Sorkin could overcome it. They are happy, however, to release Pixels, The Emoji Movie, and a slew of Smurfs films.
Now here’s the funny part.
Sony finds itself acutely aware of what happens when they simply engage in “whitewashing” the characters (as well they should, having produced Aloha in 2015). And this article is accurate when it points out that in the past they wouldn’t have cared at all–look at what happened to the adaptation of Ben Mezrich’s nonfiction Bringing Down The House in 2008, when it was called 21, and when it starred a predominantly white cast portraying characters who in actuality were Asian. Not for nothing: 21 was distributed by Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of guess who okay I’ll tell you it’s Sony.
So, since Sony understands that they stand to suffer by engaging in whitewashing, it means they also understand that the people who would make them suffer are a large and increasingly influential group. Their response, then, is simply to leave a film like Flash Boys in development hell rather than believe they could sell tickets to a film with an Asian lead–even though they are aware of the very audience who would like to see a film about Asians starring an Asian lead.