The recently released film, The Dictator, starring British actor Sacha Baron Cohen, has stirred up much controversy over the troubling racial stereotypes in its damaging portrayal of Arabs.
Some say that the movie, conveying such a blatantly stereotyped character, should be played by an actor of the race being stereotyped, or at the least, not a Caucasian actor. Others argue that if a similar film mocking African-Americans or Jews were made, Hollywood would not give it the green light.
Comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi states that this process of “whitewashing” has been around for ages—as long as Hollywood has existed.
In his satirical piece for the Salon, Mandvi says that the priority of the Hollywood industry is its financial success, to the point where it presents to viewers an unreal reality.
“When you look at it through my studio executive lens, you understand how important it is that both white people and non-white people believe that Indians, Asians, Mexicans and Arabs are truly just white people in brown makeup.”
In his interview with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, Mandvi says that this whitewashing process promotes the concept that “white is normal, and everything else is not,” but continues by stating that America is not the same as it was 50 years ago, and that the Hollywood industry needs a change to better represent the reality of the diverse American society today.
An example can be seen in the recent blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” which is said to have falsely portrayed the characters in the wrong ethnicity by having Caucasian actors play the leads.
This misrepresentation can be found both in and outside of movies.
Statistics show that no winner in the Academy Awards acting category has been Latino, Asian American, or Native American, and all Best Actresses have been white since 2002.