As Doctor Strange is set for release in early November, with a projected opening weekend box office in the hundred millions, more actresses are realizing that Tilda Swinton’s strategy of finding work with a decrepit over-50 woman’s body may be the best option left.
Swinton will be playing “the Ancient One,” a character who in the comics, was born in Tibet and lived in the Himalayas in his youth. Swinton, an actress who was born in England, and lived in the British Isles in her youth, stated that adapting to the role was difficult. However, she asserted it was “better than playing an invisible person for the rest of your life.”
In an interview following the opening weekend of Still Alice 2: Even Stiller Even Sadder Stillectric Boogaloo, star actress Julianne Moore commented on her film’s disappointing turnout, explaining that “I’m just too old to be a woman anymore, even playing someone with Alzheimer’s. It was only a matter of time, though — everyone knows women cease to exist around age 55.” Moore went on to praise Swinton’s new tactic as “inspired,” celebrating how Swinton “gamed the anti-woman, anti-POC system and transformed it into merely an anti-POC system.”
With Matt Damon set to star in a film about the Great Wall of China, audiences seem to be comfortable with or at least resigned to a white man portraying an Asian man, so a white woman portraying an Asian man is “really just the logical next step,” according to film critic Molly Haskell. “The clear progression will be for cinema to eventually consist entirely of white male actors, and then we’ll have returned to Shakespeare’s golden age of acting.”
Some moviegoers have expressed displeasure at the casting of white actors and actresses as characters of other races, calling it “disrespectful,” “whitewashing,” and “wait, how is this still happening — it’s 2016.”
Doctor Strange co-writer Jon Spaihts defended the casting choice by saying that the character “is not Asian in the movie adaptation, and his — er, I mean, her — living in Tibet in the movie has nothing to do with the original race of the character and really lots of white people live everywhere and does Asia even exist in real life? And, uh, you get white when you combine every color together, right? So actually, this casting is super progressive.” Spaihts then muttered “Everyone always tries to make me look racist” and refused to comment further.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson added. “Either people of color can be represented in movies, or older women. Both would be too much.” Derrickson went on to say that by having a woman who was “Hollywood elderly” star in a mainstream, high-budget film, he was “being charitable, frankly, like adopting an old dog from a rescue shelter.”
Derrickson explained in further detail the situation’s complexity. “We all know practices like yellowface are insensitive and unacceptable today. So why not make the character white so that we can cast a white person with no issues?” When asked about the possibility of casting Asian actors in the role, Derrickson tilted his head in confusion and asked for clarification on the term “Asian actor.”
Swinton’s new book, to be released in January 2017, will be entitled “Surviving Sexism through Whitewashing.” She has said that it will be unrelated to her role in Doctor Strange. However, when asked about the inspiration for the book, Swinton quipped, “Let’s just say I learned it all from a wise old Asian man— er, I mean, a wise old androgynous Celtic mystic.”
Written by: Jen Windsor, MQ cool aunt