Marvel’s first teaser trailer for “Doctor Strange,” released earlier this month, left a lot of fans wondering why on Earth Tilda Swinton was selected to play the Ancient One — a character that’s traditionally Asian and a man.
Two days later, when Paramount and DreamWorks released the first image from "Ghost in the Shell," a live-action adaptation of the Japanese manga starring Scarlett Johansson, the furor over whitewashing characters intensified.
There’s rarely any rational explanation behind such disastrous casting decisions and that’s exactly why when "Doctor Strange"’s screenwriter tried to defend Swinton’s selection by blaming China, it made people even madder.
“There is no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine, that is absolutely unwinnable,” Cargill said during an appearance on the Double Toasted podcast.
Recommended: Do You Realize How Bad Hollywood's Whitewashing Is?
He then went on to explain how the Ancient One is “a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in [a] very weird political place” – Tibet, a region China claims as its own but Tibetans disagree.
Therefore, by casting a Chinese actress for the role could’ve prompted an entirely another form of controversy, which would have also alienated Chinese viewers who make up one of the world’s largest movie market audience.
"He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating 1 billion people who think that that’s bullsh*t and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political,'" Cargill added.
While his argument makes some sense to people who understand the magnitude of the Tibet-China conflict, there are some who believe casting directors shouldn’t have given in to the fear of angering the Chinese government.
The reasoning that Doctor Strange's whitewashing of the Ancient One is okay bc of the tension between China and Tibet has a fatal flaw-— HGH-free bara tiddie (@brutuswayne) April 25, 2016
So I guess, well done China. You've managed to get a Hollywood juggernaut to help you silence Tibet. #DoctorStrange— Jim McDermott (@PopCulturPriest) April 24, 2016