whitewashing

Culture Warrior

When the trailer for Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible debuted on the web – an upcoming holiday release starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as the parents of a living-comfy British family vacationing in southeast Asia in 2004 when the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit – it caused quite a stir. Nathan Adams referred to the trailer as “melodramatic,” and our comments section was abuzz with seasoned FSR writers and readers alike assessing the merits of a film about a real-life natural disaster that devastated the lives of countless people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and India which focuses instead on a white, ostensibly wealthy British family on holiday. David Haglund of Slate called the trailer “deeply troubling” and “horribly misjudged,” going so far as to say that, out of the hundreds of thousands of lives adversely affected by the tragedy, …The Impossible is, so far as one can tell from this trailer, about the uplifting story of five, well-off white people. Which is not to say that the lives of well-off white people don’t matter. But movies like this one create the unmistakable and morally repugnant impression that their lives matter more. The whitewashing of the silver screen has been proven to be an issue that is neither small nor unfamiliar when it comes to the enterprise of Hollywood representation. As Cole Abaius pointed out in a recent editorial, one of the more ironic repercussions of a globalized Hollywood economy dependent upon foreign sales is that Hollywood studios are still hesitant to […]

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