Offensive Use of Yellowface in ‘Cloud Atlas'

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 The Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) is criticizing the new Warner Brothers motion picture “Cloud Atlas” — promoted as artistically groundbreaking because its actors swap racial and sexual identities — as business-as-usual in its exclusion and offensive yellow-faced renditions of Asian people.

A multi-ethnic epic spanning the globe and 500 years from the past to the future, “it’s an artistically ambitious approach to filmmaking,” acknowledged Guy Aoki, MANAA’s founding president. “Unfortunately, it reflects the same old racial pecking order that the entertainment industry has been practicing for decades.”

“Cloud Atlas,” written and directed by Tom Tykwer (“Run, Lola, Run”) and Lana and Andy Wachowski (“The Matrix” trilogy) and based on the novel by David Mitchell, utilizes an all-star cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Jim Sturgess, and Hugo Weaving. In order to stress a thematic continuity among the movie’s six interwoven stories, the filmmakers cast many of the same actors as different characters in each time period.

One of the stories takes place in a totalitarian, mechanized Neo Seoul Korea in the year 2144. An Asian female clone (South Korean actress Doona Bae) is encouraged by another female clone (Chinese movie star Xun Zhou) to break out of her oppressive pre-programmed routine serving men and become an independent thinker. The segment also includes white actors Sturgess, Weaving, and James D’Arcy as ostensibly Korean characters, using eye prosthetics to make their Caucasian features look more Asian. Read more here
 

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