May 24, 2016

Being the Change: #StarringJohnCho

I vote yes.
I vote yes.
By Alexa Day
Why not John Cho?
William Yu took this question to Twitter a little while ago. If Hollywood knows that diversity sells, Yu says, why isn’t Hollywood trying harder to achieve that diversity? In fact, Hollywood seems to be running away from diversity with regard to Asian characters. Emma Stone made news when she was cast to play an Asian lead character in Aloha, and the news since then has not gotten better.
So what’s the problem? Yu points to a leaked email from Aaron Sorkin, in which the writer explains how hard it is to adapt stories with Asian leads for the screen because “there aren’t any Asian movie stars.
My personal favorite. I actually thought this was a real movie.
My personal favorite. I actually thought this was a real movie.
Wow. Hard to believe that someone who works in the industry at that level was willing to go there, even in an email not intended for public consumption. That’s something else.
Yu responded to this by creating #StarringJohnCho, a Twitter campaign designed to help people better visualize Asian leading men by Photoshopping one onto a whole lot of movie posters for some popular films. We need no longer imagine an Asian leading man. We have — we have always had — an Asian leading man in John Cho.
(Better yet, we had an Asian leading man long before this: check out #StarringJamesShigeta. And we have an Asian leading lady today in #StarringConstanceWu. But I digress.)
Too much? Nay, friends. Not enough. Thanks to @Becoming_Bryna.
Too much? Nay, friends. Not enough. Thanks to @Becoming_Bryna.
It’s not just that John Cho is pretty to look at, although I will not now be heard to deny that he is just as hot as the day is long. John’s smart. He’s funny. He has an impressive range — he’s played a legendary stoner in the Harold and Kumar series and he’s the reason I started watching Sleepy Hollow. And while he seems fairly down to earth — not many people would respond to a Twitter movement like this as quietly as he has — he’s not afraid to say what needs saying.
Like this:
That was a little more than a year ago, long before #StarringJohnCho.
My point is that I’m not just interested in John Cho’s presence in these mocked-up movies. I’m interested to see what John Cho would bring to these roles as the incomparable actor that he is.
So why not John Cho? We’re not really waiting for Aaron Sorkin to get the memo, are we?

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  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    Well said, Alexa. Back in September of 2013 – in a post that happened to also have introduced you – I pondered that same thing in my Where are all the Asians post with respect to romance novels. Sadly, three years later, seems like we haven’t made much progress.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      So glad you included this link — I remember that post well! I wonder what it will take to fix this level of inequity, or if we have any chance of seeing it fixed in our lifetimes.

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authormadeline iva

    Hey, I watched him in Sleepy Hollow, followed the TV show Selfie until it was cancelled, and watched Kumar (who I also think is pretty hot) in House until he left to go work for the Obama administration.

    Why not Cho? Why not alllll the hot to die for Korean men in Kdrama. There’s a whole world of Asian acting that the U.S. has not quite discovered. I embrace them fully. 🙂

    Reply to madeline iva
    • Post authorAlexa Day

      He was so brilliant in Sleepy Hollow. I hated to see him go, but I think he got one of the early lifeboats.

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Post authoranne

    True that. I loved Selfie. I was sad it was cancelled. But anyway, I was just trying to say that Cho being Asian and Karen Gillard being American (American in the show, I know she’s Scot) works. It works. They have chemistry. We are missing such a big opportunity by not casting them in roles.

    Reply to anne

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