Hollywood has a long and insidious history of ignoring the existence of Asian-Americans–and then finding a way to whitewash any character of Asian heritage with a more notable (read: Caucasian) star. However, perhaps even more incorrigible are the people who go out of their way to excuse or justify racism in the entertainment industry–there are people who will literally come up with any excuse to discriminate against a minority.
Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociologist, attempted to get to the bottom of Hollywood’s inequality issues by speaking directly to various entertainment professionals. Yuen claims that one casting director, who remains unnamed (probably better for them) told her:
“I work with a lot of different people and Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they’re not very expressive.”
The casting professional continued by validating their colleagues’ racism, claiming: “They’re very shut down in their emotions…. they really have to act and get some kind of performance out…it’s a challenge.”
We’ve all heard the arguments that studios don’t want to back Asian actors in leading roles because they can’t afford to take the risk, but the words of this casting director actually imply that Asians and their ability to emote are somehow impaired by virtue of their race.
Naturally, Asian-American Twitter was ticked off, but it decided to fight back in the most entertaining way possible. Author Maureen Goo urged her compatriots to make #ExpressiveAsians a thing!
— Maurene Goo (@mauxbot) September 8, 2017
#ExpressiveAsians has been trending since the weekend with wonderful results. Asian Americans and their allies are using it to highlight talented Asian entertainers and their work as well–or just show off the full range of their own emoting abilities.
— mochi 💠 (@MochiWaDaisuki) September 9, 2017
— Decervelage (@Decervelage) September 10, 2017
— SungWon Cho (ProZD) (@prozdkp) September 9, 2017
— jo. (@BBMonarch) September 9, 2017
— malak 천사 (@shumsende) September 9, 2017
Others took the opportunity to gleefully slam the lack of diversity in Hollywood and the outright ridiculousness of the casting director’s claims, citing that plenty of non-expressive white people go on to star in plenty of movies.
'Asians are not very expressive hey lets make fifteen Twilight movies with a couple of puppets.' #ExpressiveAsians
— David Lo Pun-ch Nazi (@helpmeskeletor) September 9, 2017
— flux🌱 (@ConstantinFlux) September 9, 2017
#ExpressiveAsians is a fun, inclusive example of how Asian Americans are refusing to let institutional racism continue in Hollywood without calling it out.