When Whitewashing in Hollywood is a Good Thing
Woke Jewish Twitter is outraged today and accusing Australian actress Margot Robbie of whitewashing. What is her big crime? The actress is signed on to play a Holocaust survivor in a new film called “Ruin.” A film where it appears the storyline involves her and a former Nazi who is trying to atone for his sins by hunting down other Nazis. Awesome. I liked it better when it was called “Inglourious Basterds,” but any movie where the plot is, “Holocaust Survivor Goes on Nazi Killing Spree,” is going to get my money. However, as awesome as this movie sounds, Jewish Progressives on twitter are furious because Margot Robbie is not Ashkenazi Jewish, and therefore her portraying a Holocaust survivor means she is guilty of whitewashing. If you are somebody that holds this opinion, please take a long inhale… and keep inhaling until you pass out so your stupidity doesn’t infect anybody else.
There are so many problems with this line of thought, so let’s get right to it.
First off, you’re being racist. Stop looking at people’s skin and deciding if somebody can do something or not. Have a little more depth to your character and moral compass, it’s really not that difficult. That is the trap of intersectionality; you focus so hard and so long on what people look like, you completely bypass looking at their motivation. And more times than not, the motivation for somebody wanting to play a certain person or character is pure-hearted.
This is how you get idiots squawking at cartoon characters like Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and causing a raucous and a problem, even when there is no problem whatsoever with Apu. In fact, even though Apu was voiced by the white Hank Azaria, Apu was seen as one of the smartest, kindest, and hardest working characters in all of Springfield. But because we live in a day and age where we can’t have anything fun, Azaria is no longer doing Apu. Congrats, you destroyed one of the best and well-rounded characters in the Simpsons because you didn’t like a white guy doing an Indian voice.
These are the same people who blasted Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” for casting the “too white” Sofia Boutella. Even though she is from Algeria. In case you don’t have a map handy or if you aren’t a geography major, Algeria happens to be a north African country… like… EGYPT! This is the issue you get when you simply look at somebody’s skin and decide they cannot play a character, not only are you ignoring their actual work and merit, sometimes skin color is tricky and you could be dead wrong.
The Real Issue When You Complain About Whitewashing
Before we go any further, a quick concession; people who complain about whitewashing are doing so because there was a day and an age when whitewashing was rampant in Hollywood, and actors/actresses were overlooked simply because they were the wrong color. Worse, you had instances like the Amos ‘n’ Andy Show where white guys dressed in blackface and portrayed characters in a racist manner (even if it was on radio). The majority of people who complain about whitewashing do so because they do not want to see people once again engaging in things like blackface. And they want people of all colors, religions, and sexual proclivities to play whatever role is available. That’s a good thing. If somebody is right for the role, they are right for the role. No matter their color.
But this latest uproar about whitewashing is not that. People are angry that Margot Robbie is too white to play an Ashkenazi Jew. With the major gripe being, “a Jewish person should be playing a Jewish person.” Why? Who says that only someone of that ethnicity, religion, or sexuality can play the character? If this was the case, Rami Malek playing Freddie Mercury? Off the board. Adam Beach as Pima Indian Ira Hayes? Nope. It’s really quite ludicrous to stand by this perspective. Worse, it limits your possible exposure to topics that need to be seen by more people, not fewer.
Let’s go back to the Margot Robbie example. If every single Jewish character was played by a Jewish person, you would have the same 5-10 actors and actresses playing the same roles. That’s unbelievably boring. Sure, it would be awesome to have badass Gal Gadot playing a Holocaust survivor going on a revenge spree (and she was in fact in discussions to play the part). But at the same time, I don’t want Natalie Portman playing a Holocaust survivor while slamming the Israeli government for having the audacity to pass a law saying Israel is a Jewish state. Would I rather have “the whitest looking white,” Margot Robbie playing an Ashkenazi Holocaust survivor or another Woody Allen film where he plays a neurotic, jelly-spined Jewish guy with mother issues? Which one do you think makes me more proud to be Jewish or does more harm to the Jewish community?
Beyond that though, people complaining of whitewashing are missing the most obvious thing when it comes to all of this; they’re actors and actors playing roles. The whole point of acting is pretending to be somebody else and using your acting skills to inhabit that person. You don’t actually have to be that person. That’s why Leonardo DiCaprio’s oscar for “The Revenant” (a terrible movie where you’re better off watching a Blue Planet documentary) was so misguided; that wasn’t a portrayal of Hugh Glass and his suffering, we were actually watching Leonardo DiCaprio suffer. That’s not actually acting.
Jews Especially Should Not Complain About Whitewashing
Finally, a non-Jew playing a Jewish role in something so vital and important as the Holocaust is a good thing! In a world where only 45% of people know how many Jews died in the Holocaust and 41% of Americans don’t know what Auschwitz is, it’s a good thing that a non-Jew is portraying a Holocaust survivor! More people will see this film specifically because Margot Robbie–a non-Jew–is playing the role!
Every Jew knows what the Holocaust is and what happened. If Margot Robbie is so enthralled with a character and film that she agrees to the part, do you think she is going to half-ass it or do a well-balanced job with the character? Especially when she knows how visceral the reaction will be if she is terrible. Now though–because she is such a big-name actress–even more people will see the film. And even more people will come to learn and find out what happened during the Holocaust. You can bank on all of Australia seeing the film. So too every male 15-65 (because, well, it’s Margot Robbie).
So quit bitching about “Whitewashing” and be happy one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood today wants to play a badass Holocaust survivor. Most appalling of all this is how it flips one of the greatest things about Jewry on its head; Jews come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. So complaining about the “whitewashing” of a Jew is despicable (especially an Ashkenazi Jew, which is pretty much the whitest we have–just look at me if you have any doubt), and again, you come off as a simple-minded racist whenever you say this.
Remember this last thing; she’s an actress portraying a role that will put Jews in a good light, and show them (specifically a woman) as badasses. THAT is what you are complaining about. Aren’t there better things to get upset about? Here’s an olive branch; if you’re still annoyed after reading this, just go back and complain about Mel Brooks portraying an American Indian who speaks Yiddish, or better yet, make some popcorn (WITH butter), sit down, relax, and enjoy the film!