2016 is rapidly becoming the year where Hollywood really can’t catch a break. Following the prominence of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, as well as the furore over the Zoe Saldana-starring Nina Simone biopic, fresh and concerted efforts are being made to address the similar underrepresentation of Asian-Americans on the big screen. Although the Twitter account has been up since April 28th, #StarringJohnCho officially went viral this week, photoshopping well-known Hollywood film posters to replace typically white leads with the Mr Sulu actor.
The movement’s website, starringjohncho.com, emphasises that “today, only 1% of lead roles go to Asians. But if studies show that films with diverse casts result in higher box office numbers…why doesn’t Hollywood cast lead actors to reflect this fact?”
The viral sensation comes amidst widespread scrutiny over Hollywood’s portrayal of those with Asian heritage, both historically and in today’s releases. ‘Ghost in the Shell’, an upcoming film based on the Japanese media franchise, has been under heavy fire for casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role of Motoko Kusanagi, whilst the next entry in Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe, ‘Doctor Strange’, is set to feature Tilda Swinton as ‘The Ancient One’, a traditionally Tibetan mystic.