Yellow Peril took issue with ComicsAlliance assertation that the casting of Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin was "acceptable whitewashing."
Source: Yellow Peril
When Ben Kingsley was officially announced as The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, most comic book fans were pleased to learn that such a well-respected actor would be portraying a longtime fan favorite villain. ComicsAlliance, however, immediately embarked on a preemptive defense of whitewashing, the process of casting white actors to play Asian characters in movies, posting:
This is a rare instance where casting a non-Chinese actor in an Asian role may actually be the smart choice. Usually it's whitewashing, but given that the character originated as a horrifying yellow peril stereotype, casting someone like Kingsley (who is half Gujarati Indian) allows the character to break away from the cliche.
Yellow Peril stereotypes are stereotypes that grew out of late nineteenth century xenophobia based on an increase in Chinese immigration in the united states, and continued through the mid twentieth century fueled by misguided World War 2 patriotism, resulting in lots of unfortunate prejudice and some awesomely hilarious Bugs Bunny cartoons. Yellow Peril is also the name of a website dedicated to exposing and eradicating Yellow Peril stereotypes in comics, and they took issue with ComicsAlliance's whitewashing of the Mandarin's whitewashing. In response to ComicsAlliance, they posted:
Movies reinvent characters all the time. Peter Parker got parents in this latest incarnation. That's something that even the comics haven't dealt with. It's possible that Iron Man 3 could reinvent the Mandarin so he's not a pastiche of an Asian villain but rather an actualized person. The best villains in fiction never believe they are the villain. A sympathetic take on the Mandarin could be kind of awesome which is ultimately why I'm disappointed that he'll be portrayed by Ben Kingsley.
YP suggested Andy Lau or Chow Yun-Fat for the Mandarin role, and concluded by telling CA:
No, Comics Alliance, it's not okay.
What do you think? Is the excitement over Ben Kingsley enough to overlook a clear case of whitewashing? Does Kingsley's Indian heritage make the whitewashing better, or worse?
Written or Contributed by: Jude Terror