‘Into the Badlands’ Actor Rejects ‘Whitewashing’ Attacks on ‘Iron Fist’, ‘Ghost in the Shell’

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 5:07 pm, April 12, 2017

In the wake of complaints over supposed “whitewashing” and “cultural appropriation” in Netflix’s Iron Fist and the new Ghost in the Shell movie, one Asian-American actor has chosen to speak out in opposition.

Both Iron Fist and Ghost in the Shell have been subject to a barrage of criticism for casting white actors in main roles. Despite strictly adhering to its source material, Iron Fist was accused of “cultural appropriation” for having a white man in the role of a martial artist. Similarly, the Ghost in the Shell adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson was accused of “whitewashing” its Japanese source, despite approval from the animated movie’s director, Mamoru Oshii. Critics argue that only Asians should have been cast in the main roles in both projects.

Daniel Wu as Sunny

Into the Badlands star Daniel Wu is now speaking out against these critics. In the AMC martial arts series, Wu plays the lead character, Sunny. Interviewed by Screen Anarchy, the actor called both controversies “bulls***.”

“I think that’s people going a little too precocious on that because originally the character was written white—it wasn’t like it was a whitewashing thing,” said Wu of Iron Fist. “It’s not like you are talking about a ‘Ghost in the Shell issue,’ right?”

The actor says that the complaints are nonsensical, as they essentially pigeonhole Asians into very specific roles.

“And I still don’t actually buy the Ghost in the Shell whitewashing issue either, and I certainly don’t buy into the cultural appropriation bullshit because that’s saying that ‘only Asians are allowed to do martial arts’ then that means only black people can play basketball and rap? That means Jeremy Lin shouldn’t be playing basketball? And Eminem shouldn’t be rapping? That’s bullshit, you know.”

Wu urged other Asian-Americans upset by the issue to cool their jets.

“So I know Asian Americans are angry, but they should calm down and choose the correct fight in that case,” he said. “I agree that Marvel missed the chance of doing something interesting and casting against the race – they could have done that – and that would have given them some credit, but they didn’t, so what are you going to do about it?”

“I think the important thing is that everyone learned a lesson from that – including people that weren’t involved, so I think we just need to move forward, that’s all.”

Into the Badlands’s second season began late last month.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.