Tag Archives: Death Note

Ed Skrein leaves ‘Hellboy’ reboot due to issues of whitewashing

Last week, British actor Ed Skrein, recently of Deadpool, joined the Hellboy reboot currently underway with David Harbour (Stranger Things) set in the lead role and Neil Marshall (The DescentGame of Thrones) in line to direct.

The casting, broke by The Hollywood Reporter, was an example of whitewashing because the character, Major Ben Daimio, is Japanese-American in the source material.

After the casting was announced, Jeff Yang, a CNN contributor and Editor-In-Chief of secretidentities.org, made a popular Twitter thread calling out the whitewashing, not only in Hellboy, but also within Hollywood in general. He offers various Asian actors that could’ve played the role of Daimio.

This year has seen plenty of controversy, of both whitewashing and cultural appropriation, with Ghost in the Shell, Iron Fist and Death Note, the last of which Netflix released this past weekend. Last year, Marvel and Tilda Swinton also encountered whitewashing backlash in regard to Swinton’s character in Dr. Strange.

While those actors stuck with their projects, Skrein is the first to step down from a role with consideration to whitewashing, at least of a major studio project. He made the announcement on Twitter this afternoon.

Skrein states that he was “unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage” and that, once it had been brought up, he decided to leave the film because of the “worrying tendency to obscure ethnic minority stories and voices in the Arts.” He says: “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and to give voice to inclusivity.”

Lionsgate also released an official statement along with Skrein’s exit, which can be found with The Hollywood Reporter‘s story.

“Ed came to us and felt very strongly about this. We fully support his unselfish decision.  It was not our intent to be insensitive to issues of authenticity and ethnicity, and we will look to recast the part with an actor more consistent with the character in the source material.”

Look below for Skrein’s official statement from Twitter:

Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

‘Death Note’ Review: A boring, misguided and troubling adaptation

Death Note has some minor positives — the rendering of the demon Ryuk is terrifying and visually perfect. Since this is a demon based in Japanese culture, he should’ve been voiced by a Japanese actor, but Willem Dafoe is, admittedly, wickedly and deliciously good. Lakeith Stanfield, Shea Whigham and Margaret Qualley are also all fairly serviceable in their roles.

But everything else about Netflix’s most recent original release is shockingly bad. No matter how well the supporters performed, they couldn’t make up for Nat Wolff. Not only does Wolff struggle to deliver his lines convincingly, and not awkwardly, but his facial expressions border on camp, which might’ve been an interesting choice had it been on purpose.

Wolff’s character, Light Turner, doesn’t receive any help from the writers or director Adam Wingard either. The story fails to sell Light’s motivations and never frames him in any way where audiences can feel any sort of sympathy for his psychological downfall. In fact, it’s difficult not to hate him intensely.

Death Note had a shot to be morally fascinating and, for a second (it was only a second), it seems like it might pull it off. But instead of thoroughly investigating the psyches of characters with the power of death in their hands, the film reverts to a cat and mouse game that also fails to be engaging.

For Death Note to have succeeded in its themes of morality, however, it would’ve had to be moral itself. The handling of Margaret Qualley’s Mia is sexist  — the character is merely used as a tool to progress Light’s journey. At one point, the film even goes so far as having Mia say that cheerleading is meaningless. And her fate, nonsensically and grossly explained, is infuriating.

The whitewashing and cultural appropriation are also embarrassingly bad. Death Note sells itself as an American adaptation, but the simple presence of Ryuk invokes Japanese culture and ethics. The film shamefully uses Japan and Japanese people at its convenience, even having the only named Japanese character put under mind control before being murdered. Both aspects disqualify it from being an “American adaptation.” It’s horrifically ignorant and entirely offensive.

Grade: F