Whitewashing vs BIPOC Casting in Films

Brisa Flores, Reporter

Diversifying roles in films is very important, especially in today’s society. We see more BIPOC getting cast for roles in Hollywood, and unfortunately, there is always some backlash. 

This backlash is seen when BIPOC is cast in white roles, especially when casting for comic book characters or older films’ remakes. 

It all comes down to casting BIPOC for ‘white’ roles versus whitewashing.  

I see no problem casting BIPOC for white roles in films since there are more than enough movies and television shows with white characters.  

However, people, especially on the internet, make it their goal to express their dislike towards the casting of a specific character. I have seen this on Twitter, where people dislike the idea of BIPOC portraying a character, especially when it comes to women of color. 

People turn this into an argument of ‘This character is supposed to be white’ or ‘We should make all existing BIPOC characters white.’  

It’s disheartening to see because even to this day, filmmakers do less than the bare minimum to cast BIPOC. Of course, there is still a lack of representation in many areas besides casting BIPOC.  

It becomes evident that directors do not care about representation. I have seen so many films where BIPOC has been cast for films but are just there to make the movies cast appear diverse. They are usually the sidekick, bully, or love interest; they can be seen or said to be main characters but have little to no plot or development.  

What’s sad to see as a BIPOC myself is the whitewashing in films. Merriam-Webster dictionary website defines whitewashing as “Casting white actors as characters who are non-white or of indeterminate race.”  

I see this a lot when it comes to creating a live-action adaptation of an existing character. Whether it is a comic book character, book character, or animated character, there usually is some whitewashing. 

With superhero films and live-action remakes of films being popular with film studios these days, I either see a BIPOC getting the role of an initially white character or a canon BIPOC character getting whitewashed.  

It is upsetting to see characters that represent BIPOC have their cultural background erased because someone decided to cast a big named white actor for the role. Most of the time, the actors’ director hire for roles meant for people of color come with a bit of problematic background. 

Because of whitewashing, representation for BIPOC continues to decrease. Whitewashing usually never gets as much backlash from the general public, unlike when a person of color gets cast for a white role.  

I have seen people start campaigns demanding the recasting of a character portrayed by a person of color. When a white person is cast for a role meant for a person of color, people shrug it off. They do not realize how it hurts for people of color.  

Directors creating films, especially with characters that already have an existing cultural background, should do their research and be careful when casting. They can be sure they are not whitewashing the character.  

Whitewashing and BIPOC getting cast in films is not the same thing. Whitewashing is harmful to people of color and needs to be paid more attention to. Casting people of color for white roles is not and should not be seen as wrong. People who think this way are a part of a different and more significant problem.  

Whitewashing needs to stop, and roles meant for people of color should be cast accordingly. Directors should cast people of color in roles that are not full of stereotypes or harmful to a community. They should be allowed to portray iconic pop culture characters without receiving backlash. It is a tiny step to diversifying and showing representation in films.