By now, you’re probably aware of the fact that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is back for its second season and that it is the best The Daily Show-style program on television. Taking a weekly approach to satirical news allows Oliver, a former correspondent for The Daily Show, to dig deeper into issues, delivering something thoughtful, refined, and of course, hilarious.
One of the best features on the show is “How Is This Still a Thing?”, a sharp takedown of some inexplicably popular phenomenon.
In this week’s episode, the segment took aim at Hollywood whitewashing, the practice of using white actors to play people of colour – just in time for the so white Oscars and, coincidentally, Australia’s “Are we sure blackface isn’t okay?” debate.
(Though the show pretty much answered the question for America with “Dressing Up as Other Races (How is this Still a Thing?)”)
The clip starts with an image of Short Circuit’s white-actor-as-Indian-character Fisher Stevens.
It points out that this year’s Oscar nominees “are whiter than a yeti in a snowstorm, fighting Tilda Swinton”.
It suggests a more genuine casting choice for Prince Of Persia than Jake Gyllenhaal.
It pokes fun at the two Commonwealth actors cast to play ancient Egyptian legends in Exodus: God of War…
… and at some classic Hollywood blackface.
…and at this review of Mickey Rooney’s egregious Breakfast at Tiffany’s “performance”.
It then criticised justifications put forward by Oscar-caliber directors…
… with the comeback, "Yeah, you needed the white-hot star power of whoever the fuck this guy is.” (Sorry, Joel Edgerton).
It lambasted the recent phenomenon of fans going “ape-shit” when a black actor is cast in a supposedly white role.
It argued: “This is the last samurai? Fuck you.”
Watch the whole hilarious bit here: