As I define it, this trend refers to the tendency to cast an Asian actor of one ethnicity in a role written for a different Asian ethnicity.
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Seeing a Chinese man being played by someone who to me so clearly looked Korean made me uncomfortable because of the potentially dangerous message Hollywood is sending to the public: It implies ignorance of the centuries of history, hardships, and culture each country has built up over the years that Asian casting message wholly distinct and unique.
Of course, every culture bears certain similarities, especially when those countries are geographically linked.
It becomes cookie cutter, a representation of all Asian stories. There are many arguments casting directors make in favor of hiring an actor whose ethnicity is different from the role they are portraying.
One that is most often used is that the actor they chose, regardless of ethnicity, was the best actor for the part. What if Park was really the best actor they could find? Were there really no adequate Chinese actors that were available?
Major roles written for any Asian ethnicity are few and far between, and actors must take what they can get. And perhaps the casting choice also represents a dearth of Chinese actors in America.
All we can do is hope that the casting director at least tried to look for Chinese actors before looking at Asian casting message other ethnicities. Of course not, but audience members are seeing physical features of characters on the screen, and the physical features belong to certain ethnicities.
The fact that Park has to adopt a Chinese accent when speaking English is offensive to me in the same way that a white person imitating a Chinese accent would be. Well then, is it wrong when a white British Asian casting message portrays a white American? Or a white American playing a white Italian?
First of all, it is noticeable at times when that sort of thing happens. Because often that is the only portrayal of Asian Americans many will see.
Perhaps when Asian Americans get just as many opportunities as white actors in Hollywood, then that argument can come into play. But since this show is made to specifically portray Asian casting message immigrants based on the life of a real family, why not do it right?