During a weekend filled with announcements, trailers, and all of your questions answered at the inaugural [email protected] event, the biggest revelation stemmed from a fan-organised Q&A which saw a hefty accusation of racism against one of the comic-book industry’s most prominent figures.
During the event last weekend, Canadian-Japanese actor Peter Shinkoda joined fellow Daredevil alumni Tommy Walker and Geoffry Cantor in a Q&A session. Organised by the fan group #SaveDaredevil, its purpose was to give fans of the show the ability to ask some of the actors the questions they’ve always wanted to know.
Early on during the panel, Shinkoda began to discuss his relationship with Daredevil producer and (then) Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb. The actor appeared visibly impacted while he spoke, as he revealed that Loeb was the reason as to why storylines involving the Asian characters of Nobu and Madame Gao (portrayed by Wai Ching Ho) were dropped before filming took place.
For the last ten years, Loeb has been strongly involved in Marvel’s TV department. However, he also has a much larger role within the comic book industry itself as he has written some of the most successful stories in its history. Loeb is infamous for his treatment of minority characters within his shows, as he has avoided characteristics or storylines which would involve their unique heritage. This is why the claims from Shinkoda are not falling on deaf ears, as they have more than enough evidence to be factual.
Loeb’s reason, according to Shinkoda, was because “nobody cares about Chinese people and Asian people.” Shinkoda said during the Q&A session that he had heard Loeb’s words from “many” sources, including writers and showrunners. This included Loeb’s direct comment to the Daredevil writing team: “‘There were three previous Marvel movies, a trilogy called Blade where Wesley Snipes kills two hundred Asians. Nobody gives a s***. So don’t write about Nobu and Gao.’ And they were forced to put their storyline down and drop it.”
Shinkoda did note that this was largely Loeb’s decision, as he spoke of how the writers had their ‘hands tied’. He also stated that both himself and Wai Ching Ho were not invited to the Season 2 premiere.
Unfortunately, this attitude towards Asian actors is not irregular and is in fact commonplace in TV and film. For centuries, the Asian community has been undermined and mistreated by Hollywood executives and casting directors, as films which should have had Asian actors playing major characters have instead seen those roles whitewashed. A prime example is the recent Scarlett Johansson film Ghost in the Shell (2017), which was an adaptation of a manga featuring Japanese characters. Whitewashing has been around for over 100 years, tracing back to 1916 where the film Intolerance featured white actors playing Persian and Judean characters.
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of Asian characters within Hollywood productions, but many believe this stems from a monetary (and somewhat selfish) aspect that Hollywood is attempting to seek attention from the Chinese and Indian markets. These demographics in question have had the largest increase, and thus provide opportunities for larger profits for the Hollywood studios.
Peter Shinkoda speaking out is a big step for Asian actors in Hollywood, and hopefully his actions will inspire others to continue speaking out against racism in the industry.
Words by Paul Dawson
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