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  • Last Week Tonight asks, “how is this still a thing?”

  • This week: "Hollywood Whitewashinghow is this still a thing?"

  • In just one week well celebrate the Academy Awards.

  • They promise to be controversial,

  • as for the second year running, the nominees are whiter than a yeti in a snowstorm, fighting Tilda Swinton.

  • And yet some are arguing it’s not entirely the Academy’s fault.

  • Rob Reynolds: Some observers say Hollywood just doesn’t provide enough good roles for black actors.

  • One of the reasons for this might be that even when there are roles for non-white actors,

  • they sometimes still get played by white people.

  • CNN Host: In Prince of Persia, based on a video game set in ancient Iran,

  • Jake Gyllenhaal plays the title character.

  • That’s right. Jake Gyllenhaal, a white American with a Swedish last name

  • was cast to play the Prince of Persia from you know, Persia.

  • And he’s far from alone. Just last year, Emma Stone played the half Asian Allison Ng in Aloha.

  • Apparently, Aloha means "hello", "goodbye" and "you've got to be fucking kidding me!"

  • And when Hollywood needed actors to play Egyptians in Exodus: Gods and Kings,

  • they knew just what to do.

  • "Moses, Ramesses, you grew up together close as brothers."

  • That was a guy from Australia and a guy from Britain, pretending to be two guys from Egypt, a country in Africa.

  • And if you like that, don't miss Gods of Egypt, opening Friday, starring a Scottish guy.

  • "I, shall be the one to..."

  • Wow, that's the whitest Egyptian since these four.

  • All of this is nothing new.

  • White actors have taken roles designed for every ethnicity throughout Hollywood history,

  • from John Wayne as Genghis Khan in the Conqueror.

  • "Your treacherous head is not safe on your shoulders."

  • to the non-Puerto Rican Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story.

  • (外語)

  • to the multiple instances of white actors playing Asian characters from Marlon Brando,

  • "Sakini by name, interpreter by profession."

  • to, of course, this,

  • "You cannot go on keep ringing my bell."

  • It's a performance the New York Times in 1961 actually praised as "broadly exotic", seriously.

  • Yes, there's no shortage of roles for white actors playing non-white characters.

  • The historical figure you're playing wasn't white?

  • Not a problem.

  • The contemporary figure you're playing wasn't white?

  • Not a problem.

  • The cartoon the movie was based on was entirely about non-white people?

  • Not a problem.

  • Your characters are named Esteban and Clara Trueba in the Isabel Allende novel the movie is based on?

  • Right this way. Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep.

  • And even when a non-white person does score a major role,

  • when they make the porn parody, guess what happens?

  • "Don't worry. I got this one."

  • "No, Glen, put your dick away."

  • And when film makers get called out on "whitewashing", their justification has less to do with black and white,

  • and more to do with green.

  • Director Ridley Scott told Variety magazine he can't mount a $140-million film and

  • "say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such..."

  • Yeah, you needed a white hot star power of whoever the fuck this guy is.

  • Maybe all of us would be less egregious

  • if any time an actor of color took on a traditionally white role,

  • half the country didn't go eight shit.

  • The appearance of a black stormtrooper in the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  • is causing a lot of chatter on social media, even some racist comments

  • Several people were apparently upset that the actress playing the character is African American.

  • He'd be the first black Bond.

  • The author of those Bond novels is saying Alba is too "street".

  • Yes, if you're black, even if you're an actor who sometimes dresses like French Waldo, people will still say you're too "street".

  • And this isn't even getting into how movies about minorities will still put white people in the foreground.

  • How are we supposed to believe Tom Cruise is the Last Samurai?

  • This guy is the Last Samurai?

  • This guy?

  • This guy is the Last Samurai?

  • This guy...

  • This guy is the last Samurai.

  • Fuck you.

  • So when you hear people say the Oscars are so white because the roles aren't there,

  • just remember, the Academy gave Oscars for characters named O-Lan, Billy Kwan, and Luis Molina,

  • to actors named Luise, Linda and William,

  • all of which is enough to make you ask,

  • "Hollywood Whitewashinghow is this still a thing?"

Last Week Tonight asks, “how is this still a thing?”

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Whitewashing: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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