The creators of The Martian are being criticized for casting non-Asian actors in roles that were originally Asian in the book.

In Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Mackenzie Davis (a white actress) plays scientist Mindy Park, who’s Korean-American in the book from which the film is adapted, while Chiwetel Ejiofor (a black actor) plays a NASA director whose original character is Asian Indian.

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Members of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans have an issue with both castings and consider it a sign of an ongoing lack of consideration for Asian actors. Previously, Aloha caught backlash when Emma Stone was bafflingly cast as a half-Asian character.

MANNA President Aki Aleong tells The Hollywood Reporter, “This insulting practice of white-washing has got to stop. Alarmingly, it has been increasing in frequency.”

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The Martian hired Asian actors, including Benedict Wong, in other roles, but mostly minor ones. MANNA’s founding president Guy Aoki says, “So few projects are written specifically with Asian-American characters in them, and he’s now changed them to a white woman and black man. This was a great opportunity to give meaty roles to talented Asian American actors—and boost their careers.”

Of course, races don’t always need to match up perfectly in adaptations; lots of factors are at play. But Hollywood’s inequity in casting that continues to be a never-ending slap to the face to nonwhite Americans, who in many cases can’t even be cast in mainstream roles without attracting intense backlash.

Aoki says, “This feel-good movie, which has attracted Oscar buzz, shouldn’t get any awards for casting.”


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