With all the debate around Hollywood's practice of whitewashing roles meant for people of colour, a Japanese vlogger named Yuta took to the streets of Osaka to ask Japanese people for their thoughts on whitewashing in film, and the results were somewhat surprising.
First, Yuta had to explain what whitewashing was, exactly. "It's not something Japanese people usually think about," he shared.
He asked them what they think of Johansson's casting in the live-action adaptation of Japanese manga series Ghost In The Shell, which sparked controversy recently.
"Beautiful," says one man, as his friend agrees that it's "fine". Meanwhile, two girls thought it was actually a better casting choice than a Japanese actress.
"Because it's anime," said the girl on the left, her friend agreeing. "It will look more anime-ish if the actors aren't Japanese."
Yuta tells the interviewees that the casting choice has been criticised, and asks them to explain why.
"Maybe they have very high standards. They want a better actress," suggests one man.
"I have absolutely no idea," says another.
When Yuta explains the whitewashing criticism, one man says that he "can kind of understand" the controversy, but asserts that he disagrees with it.
"She was chosen for her skills," he says. "So that's just the way it is."
"But if she were Japanese, she wouldn't look like an anime," says one woman. "It's good because it's an anime, it's not meant to be too realistic."
"That's true," nods her friend.
"I don't think she needs to be Japanese, so I don't think she should be criticised," says another man.
One woman agreed that the role should have gone to a Japanese actress, and her friend agreed, saying: "A Japanese actress would have been more appropriate for that Asian role."
Yuta also asked people what they thought about Asian actor Edward Zo being declined an audition for the leading Japanese role in the Death Note adaptation, only to be told they weren't looking for an Asian actor.
The response generally was that it wasn't good, "because it's discrimination," but it's kind of just the way things are.
"He shouldn't have gotten turned down like that, he should have at least had a chance," said one man.
The girls who thought that Johansson's casting was preferable believed that this role should have gone to a Japanese actor, but then noted that they only felt that way because they'd already seen the Japanese adaptation.
"If we hadn't seen the Japanese one, we wouldn't have thought the actor should be Japanese," the woman said, laughing.
"I'm sorry for him but it's just the way things are," said another man, with another girl echoing the sentiment, adding that "it's Hollywood."
"Because it will be more profitable with a white lead actress for the role?" the girl on the right suggested, smiling.
"Yeah, I think so," agreed her friend.
Yuta also asks why some anime characters such as Naruto have typically Caucasian features, such as blonde hair and blue eyes.
"It's pretty normal for Japanese anime," replied one man, adding: "I haven't really thought about it. I think it's fine like that."
All four girls interviewed agreed that it was because Japanese people are "fascinated by white people".
"It's definitely because we find those features cool," said one girl.
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