On Feb. 23, the sci-fi movie Annihilation, about a group of scientists exploring a dangerous area where the laws of nature have been mysteriously suspended, hits theaters. An adaptation of the first novel in Jeff VanderMeer’s bestselling Southern Reach trilogy, the film stars Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tuva Novotny.
Anticipation for the movie has been high since the release of the first trailer last fall. But recently, some, including the advocacy group Media Action Network for Asian Americans, have accused the film of whitewashing the roles played by Portman’s and Leigh’s characters, saying the characters on which they are based are of Asian descent and Native American descent, respectively, in the trilogy. In a statement, Alieesa Badreshia, an MANAA board member, said that writer-director Alex Garland “exploits the story but fails to take advantage of the true identities of each character.”
In response to the criticism, Garland provided the following statement to TIME:
This is an awkward problem for me, because I think whitewashing is a serious and real issue, and I fully support the groups drawing attention to it.
But the characters in the novel I read and adapted were not given names or ethnicities. I cast the film reacting only to the actors I met in the casting process, or actors I had worked with before. There was no studio pressure to cast white. The casting choices were entirely mine.
As a middle-aged white man, I can believe I might at times be guilty of unconscious racism, in the way that potentially we all are. But there was nothing cynical or conspiratorial about the way I cast this movie.
This is not the first time Garland has addressed the issue. In an interview with Nerdist in December, he said of the casting, “It would not be in my nature to whitewash anything. I read a book and I adapted it because I thought the book was amazing. And I thought, ‘I’m not exactly sure how to adapt this, but I’ve got an idea.’ And I just went with it. So that was it.” Garland has previously explained to Yahoo! that he based the screenplay for Annihilation on a pre-publication galley of the …
Source:: Time – Entertainment