Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi
We put this on here because we really, really want to believe that the makers of Breakfast at Tiffany’s weren’t actually trying to be racist. There’s no way they could have known how the portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi would be perceived in the future, right? After all, this came out in a simpler time when “ethnics” were portrayed with broad, stereotypical strokes. And at least they got an actual Asian man to play the role, which makes it a little less racist, right?
Oh, wait. Nope, they went and cast Mickey Rooney in the role, who is about as Asian as Paris Hilton is a virgin. And then they apparently looked up some old World War II propaganda cartoons and decided that yes, that was exactly what a Japanese man must look like, right down to the cartoonishly large buckteeth. And boy, did Rooney ever sell the stereotype in how he delivered the lines. Not since white men performed in blackface has Hollywood treated a non-Caucasian ethnicity with such class and dignity. We did mention that we really, really hope it was unintentional, right?
Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia
And of course, we save the most recent for last. Now chances are you’ve heard of both the video game series Prince of Persia as well as the new film adaptation, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The concept is pretty cool, as it follows the titular prince as he teams up with a princess (no relation, but there sure is a lot of royalty running around, isn’t there?) to stop a giant douche from unleashing a sandstorm that could result in the end of the world. Well, it sounds cool in theory, anyway, though not so much when you see it written out like that.
Anyway, to play the prince, Hollywood went with the most obvious choice: …Jake Gyllenhaal? As in, the blue eyed American pretty boy who is in no way, shape or form even remotely Persian? Surely this must be a mistake, right? We live in a day and age when talented actors of actual Middle Eastern descent are getting opportunities in Hollywood. But instead, Hollywood decided that Gyllenhaal as the way to go, presumably since they probably felt he was far more bankable than any Middle Eastern actor could possibly be.
Got another example of shockingly low levels of awareness? Let us know in the comments!
- - John Wayne as Genghis Khan: http://www.asianweek.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/6_johnwayne.jpg
- - Natalie Wood as Maria: http://www.broadwayworld.com/columnpic/natalie_wood_wss.jpg
- - Fisher Stevens as Ben Jabituya: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_VlmHNP9So5Y/Sjfd4l6cNTI/AAAAAAAAByA/xcRF7oGkaFM/s400/Stevens.jpg
- - Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi: http://racebending.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/yellowface/1961BreakfastatTiffanys-MickeyRoone.jpg
- - Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince of Persia: http://static.reelmovienews.com/images/gallery/as-prince-dastan.jpg