Recently, Hollywood comedian, actor and legend to many, Mickey Rooney passed away at the age of 93. I thought long and hard about posting part of an article about his death on this blog. However, I had reservations about this one. Rooney may be loved in Hollywood and fans alike, but there’s one thing that sours his legacy, in my humble opinion, and that is role in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s playing a racist Asian caricature named Mr. I. Y. Yunioshi.
Rooney’s yellow face role in the movie was incredibly offensive to Asians and Asian Americans. It was released when racism in America was in-your-face and – like today – unapologetic. Rooney has long since defended his role until a few years ago where he expressed some “regrets”. What made him come back to Earth from the planet of white privilege? Who knows?
Hollywood’s liberal definition of “progression” means placing a few people of color (POC) here and there in their films, almost as if they have some sort of color quota to fill. POC are like pegs that are fitted into holes made by Hollywood big wigs. If they fit, then the role is filled no matter how shallow and narrow the holes are. Asian actors only have a few roles, and like we’ve seen with Mickey Rooney, sometimes they don’t want Asians to play Asians. In Hollywood, white people are the pegs that fit in all the holes.
Speaking of white people, Hollywood, Asians and racism, there’s a new film coming soon called Lucy. The title character is played by Scarlett Johansson – of course, it’s gonna be a white woman – who, according to the trailer, is kidnapped by an Asian mob who surgically implants a bag of drugs inside her stomach. She manages to escape due to her ability to use untapped brain power use to the drugs leaking out. She becomes smarter, faster and stronger, almost godlike. And so, she sets out to save the world, or something. Basically, it’s white power versus Asian villainy in a nutshell, another Holly-white fantasy.
White people will flock to the theaters to see Johansson kick ass. White feminists will wet themselves seeing a white woman become a super white woman. And Hollywood will make another several million dollars using a trope that’s been to death and beyond.
Though some people will argue that it is nothing more than “entertaining” and that racism was not intended, the results cancel out all excuses. As Hollywood’s racism will be on the big screen, it will rake in big bucks for the big wigs in Tinsel Town. As long as there is buying power, we will see more abominations where POC are either stereotyped for laughs are demonized for fear, in the name of white entertainment.