Yeah, OK, for some reason I just got newly pissed off at the whole Memoirs
casting fiasco. Well, at least I think it's a fiasco. And I know there are people out there who agree with me.
I mean, really. Rob Marshall was quoted as saying something like, "we looked at lots of Japanese actresses, but Ziyi Zhang was just the best... she was the only one who had the beauty, dance skills, and proficiency in English that the role demanded."
I mean, REALLY?
So he's saying that in all of Japan, there was not ONE single actress who
a) could act
b) was pretty
c) could dance, and
d) could speak passable English
I refuse to believe that.
It's laziness, pure and simple. Hold open casting calls! Scour the country! SOMEone of actual Japanese descent had to have fit the bill. I know for a fact that there are SO many talented, struggling actors out there in every country in the world just waiting for their big break that you could cast AT LEAST one entire huge oscar-bait epic with all of them. And I'd bet money that one of them is a beautiful, talented Japanese actress with English skills who could dance. Hell, there was probably someone like that actually living in southern California trying to make it in the movies.
And really, from what I've heard, Ziyi Zhang isn't really fluent in English anyway. And from her line readings in the trailer, I believe it. Very stiff, those readings were.
And as for the argument that she'd draw in American audiences with her big name... well, first of all that shouldn't be prioritized over racial and ethnic authenticity, and second of all, it's just silly. Yes, she has a nice resumé of hit films, but you can't tell me that many average American moviegoers actually know who Ziyi Zhang is. It's not like she's WIll Smith or Meryl Streep. She can't exactly open a movie. I mean, being able to paste the line "star of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers" by her name is nice, but will it really get more people to see the film? My gut and my brain both say no.
And as if Zhang Ziyi weren't enough, Marshall had the gall to cast Chinese actresses in ALL THREE major roles. Cross-ethnic casting was not the exception; it was the rule. It just shows a total lack of respect for the material in my opinion. And a lack of respect for Japanese culture, and for true Geisha. It really isn't much different from casting white actors and just dressing them up in Geisha makeup and wigs. And if Rob Marshall thinks it is, then he should learn to tell the difference between how Chinese and Japanese women look. Hell, I'm not Asian, and I can tell. When I look at Ziyi Zhang, I see a Chinese girl. And so will everyone else, since she's been in so many hit Chinese movies. See, her resumé actually works against her in that respect. People will know. Unfortunately, they may not care, and that's what really irks me.
Chinese and Japanese people don't look the same. They just don't.
And that's all I have to say about that.