Though shockingly obvious to any audience member over the age of ten, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu is the latest Hollywood insider to confirm that Hollywood has in fact taken to rewriting stories in order to make them sufficiently diverse.
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The man who self-aggrandizingly believes himself to have ‘broken barriers’ for Asian actors thanks to his portrayal of an archetypal kung-fu hero affirmed Hollywood’s growing deference to identity politics in response to an April 11th op-ed published by The Huffington Post.
Headlined ‘We Love Simu Liu, But He’s Not The Only Talented Asian Thirst Trap In Hollywood‘, the piece saw guest contributor Ian Kumamoto take issue with his belief that not only was the Marvel star “getting the bulk of Asian male roles in Hollywood,” but in doing so it made his appearance as an Asian actor “feel a little less like representation and a lot more like tokenism.”
“All we’re saying is, we don’t want a predominantly white Hollywood to gatekeep sexy Asian male representation like it has for decades when there are so many other attractive and talented Asian men who deserve to be seen and appreciated by the general public,” argued the aggrieved author.
“Liu’s portrayal of the superhero Shang-Chi proved that he was absolutely Marvel material,” Kumamoto added. “But while Marvel Studios often crafts American sweethearts out of ethnic actors and quickly transforms them into highly visible stars, this shouldn’t be the only way to ascend in the industry as a person of color. Give us some options!”
Thanks to citing only one role supposedly ‘stolen’ by Liu – that of one of the many ‘Kens’ in Warner Bros. Discovery’s upcoming Barbie film – as the basis of its complaint whilst simultaneously ignoring the thriving careers of such actors as John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, and Steven Yeun (who was even offered up by Kumamoto as one of the many’options’ for attractive Asian male actors, albeit in a way that diminished his accomplishments), the piece soon drew direct criticism from its subject.
Replying to the The Huffington Post’s sharing of the piece via their official Facebook page, Liu decried on May 5th, “Way to attempt to put us against one another.”
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“What ‘bulk’ of roles are you referring to?” he understandably questioned. “Are there movies I’m in that I’m not aware of? Do you really think that there is a quota of ‘Asian male roles’ that is a zero sum game?”
After voicing his disagreement with Kumamoto, Liu ultimately signed off his response by asserting (and admitting), “Every thing I have taken post Shang-Chi was not written Asian. We’ve been able to reshape stories to get more representation onscreen. Get your facts straight.”
While Liu did not specify whether he was referring to ‘reshaping stories’ in the sense of adding original Asian characters to a setting where they may not make sense or outright race-swapping existing characters, both methods have been employed by Hollywood in recent years.
In regards to the first option, one need look no further than Michelle Yeoh’s Scían in The Witcher: Blood Origins, as prior to Netflix’s handling of the IP the elves in Andrej Sapkowski’s fantasy novels were always depicted with a more Slavic appearance.
As to the latter, this method has been employed against such characters as BD Wong’s Hugo Strange in Gotham, Don Lee’s Gilgamesh in Marvel’s Eternals, and Lan Mandragoran in Amazon’s Wheel of Time, to name a few.
Liu’s next film, the aforementioned Barbie, is on track to take the toy aisle by storm on July 21st.
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