Hollywood and “Asians”
I used to live in South Korea; a fact, I think, that tends to make me a bit touchy about the linguistic, cultural, and — yes — physical differences between various Asian countries. People are fond of talking about things “Asian” without always realizing that there is a huge difference between say Thailand and Korea, or Japan and China. For example, linguistically Chinese has more in common with English than it does with Japanese or Korean. (Setting aside the vocabulary that both languages have borrowed from China.) Needless to say “Asians” also do not constitute a single ethnic group.
Which brings me to Memoirs of a Geisha, just released by Sony pictures. According to all of the reviews, it is a beautifully filmed movie. However, I can’t help but notice that in this very Japanese story all of the lead actresses are Chinese. I don’t think that there is any need to become some sort of fundamentalist about ethnic or national identities, but could you imagine Hollywood producing a movie about a group of Greek women and casting a trio of Norwegian actresses in the lead roles?