Enter the White Privilege

By Keith Chow. Cross-posted from The Nerds of Color.

Over the weekend Ain't It Cool News revealed that the internet's favorite hack director Brett Ratner is interested in remaking Enter the Dragon. At a screening of Rush Hour in Los Angeles, Ratner told the audience -- almost in passing -- that he is in the early stages of developing the movie and is looking for a martial artist to star. Now, before you start foaming at the mouth and cursing your keyboard, rest assured that this isn't an official announcement that the movie is happening. For all we know, Ratner is just putting it out there with the hopes that Warner Brothers would give him the opportunity to do it — as blasphemous as it may be.

Of course, the internet is beside itself that a hack like Ratner would dare remake a classic like Enter the Dragon and is appropriately showing its disgust at the idea. Here's the thing that no one's seeming to be complaining about, though. Both of the names for the prospective lead that got tossed around in the original post are white. Buckle up, because some "reverse racism" is about to go down after the jump.

Replacing Bruce Lee with a white dude? Been there. Done that.

First off, let's just put it out there how stupid of an idea this is altogether. There are just some movies that don't need to be remade. Sure, one could argue that Enter the Dragon is probably not Bruce Lee's best film, but it is undoubtedly Bruce's film. It was designed and created precisely to showcase Bruce Lee's persona and talent. Removing Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon is like concentrating on the finger pointing at the moon, you miss all that heavenly glory.

Now that that's out of the way, let me concentrate on the bit that got under my skin more than the notion that Brett Ratner (or anyone, really) would dare remake this film. Before we get into it, here's the relevant bit from the AICN article:

Would Ratner consider casting Scott Adkins in the Lee role? Ronda Rousey? Maybe go with Jackie Chan as the nefarious Han? He wouldn't get into specifics. There's no shortage of great movie martial artists kicking around today, so Ratner could easily recruit a big-screen fighting force of extraordinary magnitude.

It's very interesting that the two names that were brought up to potentially play the lead in a hypothetical remake were Scott Adkins and Ronda Rousey. Despite having limited acting experience, both of them are always brought up in any franchise fancasting that happens on the internet. Adkins has been suggested for every role from Batman to the Punisher, meanwhile Rousey has publicly complained about not being Wonder Woman and has been known to shit talk Gal Gadot in the media.

It's no wonder that names like Adkins and Rousey engender a lot of passion in fanboys. Neither actor has carried a movie on his or her own, but that doesn't prevent YouTube videos and tumblrs devoted to their eventual ascension to the nerdvana of starring in their own mega blockbuster franchise. Both are trained martial artists, have legions of fans, and have both appeared in an Expendables movie or two. So why shouldn't they be qualified to play the greatest martial arts icon in American cinematic history? Well, for starters, they're white.

I'm sure the writer thought he was being clever or innovative by suggesting non-Asian actors for the role Bruce Lee made legendary. The fact that no one called him out on the suggestion is even more interesting. I read through the comments (I know, never read the comments) and not one person questioned the logic of whitewashing the Lee character (I mean, come on. He's named LEE for chrissakes). I find this so irritating on so many levels.

For starters, almost exactly one year ago on this little website, I suggested that Netflix and Marvel Studios should open up the casting for their upcoming Iron Fist show to include Asian American actors. One year later, and I'm still getting hate mail for the suggestion. By the way, the name that constantly gets mentioned for Danny Rand by these angry fanboys? Scott Adkins. Damn.

Adkins vs. Lee image from YouTube

What fanboys don't understand is that there is a huge gulf between whitewashing and casting a person of color in a role that would traditionally be white. A lot of it has to do with visibility (as in for every white character that is cross-racially cast, there are literally thousands of other roles that will go to a white person). Sure, Luther doesn't technically have to be a Black man, but giving that role to a white actor makes it like every other cop show on television. Similarly, a Korean American Peter Parker is probably more realistic given the demographics of 21st century Queens, New York.

The thing is outrage in fandom only seems to go one way. No one bats an eye when Avatar or Ghost in the Shell or Akira or even motherfucking Enter the Dragon gets whitewashed, but merely suggesting a white character be played by anyone who isn't white and suddenly "SJWs are ruining everything."

I mean, it's not like Scott Adkins can't be in the movie. There were white folk in Enter the Dragon, after all. As my man David Walker told me:

Adkins can play the John Saxon part, only not in this movie, because it should never be remade.

This post was originally published on The Nerds of Color.

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