I think the biggest problem I have with Argo right now is not that Ben Affleck (white) played Tony Mendez (Latino). It’s that, according to the reviews out there, he played him really well. And it’ll be nothing but fodder for the whitewashing apologists.
“But he did a great job! Isn’t acting more important than what the character looks like?”
If that’s true, then why aren’t we seeing more racebent roles.
Unlike racebending, whitewashing is a historically negative act that Hollywood continues to use for various reasons (among them being that white people like to watch movies only with white people).
I found this interesting article that brings up the whitewashing. It also points out how Argo suffers from “America Saves the Day” syndrome when in fact it should be Canada
(of all countries). Here’s a quote I like:
When I see the true Mendez, I see someone that looks more like Esai Morales or Edward James Olmos than Affleck. There are plenty of talented Latino actors in Hollywood that could easily have played the role. Yet, once again, Hollywood chose to whitewash the part and add yet another example to its long history of racial discrimination (a UCLA study found that of all leading roles, only 1.2% go to Latino actors).
The heyday of obvious propaganda may be behind us, but films that serve as propaganda still get made, and that is precisely what Argo has become. By striping away the true identities of those involved, the movie only serves to foster racist attitudes, undermine Canadian valor, and could go so far as goad Americans into supporting yet another war with a Middle Eastern country.