Instructions for reading:
- “TILDS” is not a typo, but rather an affectionate nick-name I’ve assigned to Tilda Swinton, to get us on a familial basis on which I can tell her like it is
- I do not claim to know about or care for the comic book world(s) thus am speaking not about this particular incident but using it as an example ( of which there are many) of the whitewashing within the entertainment industry, which I do care about, so if you choose to engage with this piece- please bring valid receipts
If you’re a fan of the MARVEL universe and all of their various heroes and villains, from Daredevil to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage ( all available through your nearest Netflix account) you would have come across one of their original villains: Captain Whitewash (CW). Over Marvel’s long history, this particular character has proved to be a favourite among the writers, managing to make an appearance in a majority of MARVEL’s comics and film/TV remakes. Captain Whitewash has most recently caused a stir in their unexplained starring role in the highly anticipated cinematic remake of Dr Strange. Their presence comes as a surprise to most, but an expected move to those who are familiar with the Captain’s idiosyncrasies.
Responses from people we asked ranged from:
“WTF is CW doing there?” — Tiffany
“I know Captain Whitewash’s work from anywhere” — Jamal
“What’s CW- do you mean content warning-” Becky
“Well, actually I think you mean ‘weak SJW talk’” — Chad
“Classic! CW strikes again. In 2016?…hmm, lemme guess, CW is a woman this time, right?”- Jenny (From The Block)
Clearly Jenny’s been round this block and knows exactly what’s up- in this appearance, much like in Cleopatra (Elizabeth Taylor), West Side Story (Natalie Wood), Aloha (Emma Stone), Ghost in the Shell (Scarlett Johansson), A Mighty Heart (Angelina Jolie) and Pan (Rooney Mara), the Captain flaunts one of their most valuable talents of gender fluidity by embodying a female character.
That’s right, aside from the captain's more renowned work in The Great Wall (Matt Damon), Gods of Egypt (all of them), Noah (take your pick), Prince of Persia (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (really?)-the Captain can ALSO be played by women!!!
#End the Sausage Party
After generations of white-centric storytelling within mainstream forms of media, many can understand why the Asian, Asian American and larger POC (People of Colour) communities have retaliated with great indignation and protest at Marvel’s recent decision. Unfortunately, one person who just doesn’t seem to get it is Tilda Swinton, the actor who will be bringing this villain we love-to-hate to life.
Tilda Swinton, 55 yr old Actor who’s “all for diversity”, loves long walks on the beach and whose worst nightmare is “being caught on the wrong side of [the diversity] debate”. It appears her worst nightmare, has come to pass as “ the diversity debate” has come knocking at her door. In an attempt to fill in her gaps in knowledge, she went and sort for the non-remunerated emotional and intellectual resources of a member of the disgruntled community- because what else are POC here for than to give whites diverse Food Court options and to educate them? After doing so, without any intent to acknowledge faults in her choices, and preferring to discredit the critiques themselves, Tilds was shocked and appalled when she came to learn what her “house Asian” actually felt about the encounter. (To think, POC might self-censor their interactions with white people, and don’t freely express themselves until they are in what we SJW like to call a ‘safe space’). With a cup full of white tears, Tilds, went on to share the correspondence between herself and Margaret as ‘receipts’ in a hope to get a full refund on all the backlash, clear herself of any wrongdoing and show what a great white lady she is.
So…let’s break this down (with valid receipts) shall we?
In perhaps the top 10 most whitest moves of the year, Tilds approached an Asian American woman, WHOM SHE DIDN’T KNOW and asked her to weigh in, as the ambassador for all things Asia, on some ‘oriental issues’. It’s not Tilda’s fault she’s created a social and professional circle void of people of colour, particularly those of various Asian lineage whom she could have roped in to volunteer their services for her betterment.. (You’ve gotta have Asian friends, otherwise you’re definitely racist -everyone knows that) SO, she had to outsource- you can’t blame her for that.
The assumption that people of colour are there to be walking encyclopaedias on all things ‘cultural’ or ‘ethnic’ is dehumanising and condescending; not to mention just plain annoying. I acknowledge Tilds might be “that extinct beast that does no social media” but she certainly has access to a steady internet connection. A simple google search of this “whitewash” word that these hippy-dippy youths are always yapping on about would have brought up:
ABOUT 834,000 RESULTS in 0.48 SECONDS!!
So if Tilds really was “frankly more interested in listening”- she would have done her homework. She could have even made a half-arsed attempt and read the first 3 lines of a Wikipedia page, avoided eye contact during class discussion so as to not get picked to present, and then made up some story about her printer not working that morning — ANYTHING.
Margaret responds to this extravagant display of privilege by informing Tilds, she can only speak from her perspective! This priming technique is a common practice for people who are expected to represent entire communities; because it might come as a surprise to some (most) people, we don’t have Annual [insert ethnic group] Conventions, where we discuss our ethnic issues and develop a universal opinion for all your white questions…It’s bi-annual.
Tilds follows this by stepping up in defence of the mega-company against the threat posed by the ravaging attacks of twitter hashtags. She gifts the poor misinformed Margaret with insight on “the situation Marvel was in” — because if anyone’s feelings need to be considered here, it’s a corporation developing forms of entertainment without a sense of social responsibility..
It turns out that the original comics were “stuffed with stereotypes that we could all find offensive” and Marvel was doing US a FAVOUR when they shook up these tropes and replaced a Tibetan man with a Celtic woman. #problemsolved #thanksmarvel
We didn’t even consider that Marvel “wanted to feature a woman, who’s a badass, over 26 and not simply bursting out of her bikini”. Surely you didn’t expect her to be Tibetan too? Look at how much they’ve already done for us; and how do we repay them? By dragging them through the dirt that is social media?!!!
Shucks..turns out we were wrong all along folks…we done diddley made a fool of ourselves didn't we? Marvel was actually helping us — they even cast a *whisper* Black guy in a role written for a Transylvanian AND a significant Asian role
“Gosh darn it- Sorry Tilds and Marvel- us coloured folks really don’t know when not to bite the hand that feeds us” — Representative of the Coloured Peoples
Is this what Tilda was expecting after such an elaborate performance of white allyship? There are so many issues with this attempt to feign innocence that by deconstructing it, I might inevitably destroy her entire world view, along with many other Wypipo’s……#phuckit
So many of the ‘receipts’ brought up here are so terribly counterfeited, it’s quite scary seeing how far people will go to prove they’re legitimate. If Marvel, as the benevolent driver for social change that they are, was as concerned about perpetuating stale stereotypes in this movie, there were a million-and-one ways they could have avoided it including but not limited to:
- Cut them out
- Rewrite the character *
- Consulted creatives from various disciplines *
*with people (take note of the plural) of Asian decent
Those are just off the top of my head- and I’m not even within the community in question, so don’t take my list as gospel. By “avoiding” the whole ‘race issue’ Marvel and Tilda Swinton actively chose to cash-in on their accrued privilege points. They decided, in their white utopian bubble, that “ it’s too hard to correct archaic schools of thought, so let's make is simpler and make the character white.” And yes, I know for a FACT that both Tilds and Marvel didn’t have any or anywhere near enough inclusion of and exposure to Asian artists within their networks when making these crucial choices. How? Look at their choices
They didn’t check themselves- and now they’ve rekt themselves
Now we get to the name-drops which always manage to make an appearance in these conversations. Chewetel Ejiofor. He’s Black and is playing a role written for a White guy. BAM! Benedict Wong. Playing “significant Asian Character!! BAM! Bong Joon Ho. 2 Asian Friends AND I’m working with both of them #definitelynotracist #suchoriental
What many people, including Tilda seem to not understand is how things regarding race, don’t work both ways.
“Well that’s a double standard and that’s not equality #reverseracism” I hear you say
You know what else is a double standard? Racism. If both parties, the oppressed and the oppressor, started being treated equally after generations of oppression, that wouldn’t lead to equality — the oppressed would improve, yes; but so would the oppressor- at an equal rate. This is an apt metaphor.
So Tilds- Casting Chewetel does not then give you permission to play an Asian, I mean, that’s the only reason I can find as to why you brought him up; his relevance to the discussion at hand, misses me. Chewetel playing a white role, (whatever that means, but that’s a different article) is about as irrelevant as White Chicks in a discussion about black face. We don’t live in a vacuum, we have a history, a history that informs our current world and our choices and what those choices mean — So to equate immense talent aided by affirmative action due to a history of being victim to colonial imperialism entrenched in white Eurocentric superiority to Marvel’s blatant assumption of entitlement over the other is ridiculous.
With her renowned work ethic, Tilds even manages to get in the top 10 of Good-Old-fashioned White Feminist things when she comes at Margaret with a script Women of Colour know all too well:
White wom*n: “But isn’t this great for all WOM*N? We’re breaking down the patriarchy, yay! I’m over 26 and don’t have to play a featuring role in a bikini! Go women woo #I’mwithher”.
No Becky, this isn’t great for all wom*n, because this isn’t for me or any other wom*n who isn’t white or upper middle class. This is for you. The rest of us aren’t even at featuring-female-in-a-bikini-role level yet, most of us are at should-I-get-a-whiter-stage-name-so-people-will-actually-read-my-resume-and-offer-me-an-audition level. So to play this off as a win for us, is the oldest trick in the book and is not fooling anyone. You know who else would have been a great option for this ‘groundbreaking’ gender swap? A Woman of Colour.
Processing this exchange is giving me a headache and we didn’t even manage to discuss how White silence has historically helped in championing for the voices of POC and why you thought this course of action was the best, or the fragility evident in the apparent irony of being told you’re wrong when you try to learn something, or how representation with age as a White woman is equivalent to representation as an Asian person, or how you are the adjudicator of what forms of protest are the most effective and progressive for POC to engage in.
So Tilds, I hope I’ve been able to shed some light as to why Margaret Cho might not have had as much fun in your exchange as you would have thought. I think It’s time Captain Whitewash retired, don’t you?