The issue of diversity in Hollywood is so prominent by this point that it’s damn near incredible that studios haven’t shut down, regrouped, and just fucking changed their policies to include a wider range of writers, directors, and actors in films.
But they haven’t, and so we, the peons, will keep speaking up—and that’s exactly what New York-based William Yu did. Last Thursday, the 25-year-old digital strategist launched the website #StarringJohnCho, in which he recreated movie posters picturing white men in major lead roles (so, like, most of the movie posters) and photoshopped Cho, the 43-year-old star of the Harold and Kumar films, into their place. Since then, the hashtag has become so viral that the New York Times, CNN, the BBC and hundreds more outlets have covered it.
Yu’s creation comes on the heels of Chris Rock’s controversial Oscar speech, in which the comedian—while rallying against the discrimination of black creatives in Hollywood—managed to simultaneously make a joke at the expense of Asians.
According to his Web site, Yu decided to take action in response to the constant, unrelenting casting of white people to play Asians in films:
Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi. Emma Stone as Alison Ng. Jim Sturgess as Jeff Ma. White-washing Asian roles in film abounds.
In a leaked email exchange with studio heads, Aaron Sorkin (Oscar-winning writer of The Social Network, Steve Jobs, and The Newsroom) complained about the so-called difficulty of adapting a movie with an Asian protagonist because “there aren’t any Asian movie stars.”
Yu goes on to note that his effort is an attempt to show that indeed, there are Asian movie stars, they would look bomb on movie posters, and they shouldn’t be relegated to sidekicks, sidelines, or stereotypes.