- Conservative parliament member’s teabag photo spills serious tea 3 Years Ago
- Right-wing conspiracy theorists see coronavirus as a plot against Trump 3 Years Ago
- Chapo Trap House among leftist channels banned on Twitch for streaming Democratic debate Today 4:20 PM
- Meet Ryker, the world’s worst service dog Today 4:01 PM
- Far-right blogger claims Trump ordered arrest of Julian Assange Today 3:47 PM
- Reddit man wants to tell people he’s been with his girlfriend for one year instead of 6—for an incredibly dumb reason Today 2:18 PM
- John C. Reilly’s son Leo is a TikTok star Today 1:58 PM
- ‘Vanderpump Rules’ recap: A friendship sails Today 1:52 PM
- For celebs, Kobe Bryant tattoos are all the rage Today 1:01 PM
- The internet has discovered Jim and Pam Halpert’s daughter—and she’s on TikTok Today 12:32 PM
- YouPorn launches adult-themed TikTok knock-off (updated) Today 12:29 PM
- Clearview AI client list reportedly stolen Today 11:56 AM
- Billie Eilish’s brother Finneas walks back on tone-deaf advice to young creatives Today 11:26 AM
- ‘Caronavirus’ trends after Trump misspells coronavirus Today 11:20 AM
- Conservative writer claims rape victims, trans people are most privileged Today 10:45 AM
Death Note is the latest anime adaptation to be accused of whitewashing its cast. Many fans are already criticizing the upcoming Netflix remake, which reimagines the cult anime/manga series with an American cast.
Producer Roy Lee responded to the criticism in a Buzzfeed interview, saying, “This is the first time that I’ve been seeing negative press” for one of his international adaptations. He previously produced The Ring and The Grudge, both of which were adapted from popular Japanese horror franchises.
“I can understand the criticism … if our version of Death Note was set in Japan,” said Lee, explaining that the remake takes place in Seattle, starring American characters. He argued that it’s “somewhat offensive” to describe the cast as whitewashed, because “one of our three leads is African-American.”
Lee’s comments may be an awkward attempt to stave off more criticism at a time when whitewashing and Asian erasure are hot-button topics in Hollywood. Ghost in the Shell faced similar backlash last month, and while Death Note is a different situation, Lee’s defense is unlikely to make much impact. Death Note may not involve white actors playing Japanese characters, but the criticism is more complex than a straightforward debate over casting choices.
Like the anime series, Death Note follows a young man who kills people people by writing their names in a magic notebook. He uses this ability to become an untraceable serial killer, murdering criminals in the name of vigilante justice. By recasting the story with a white guy in the lead role (Nat Wolff), the movie will draw inevitable comparisons to real-life parallels. There’s a concern that it will glorify the mindset of alienated young white men who initiate school shootings. No matter how you slice it, changing the race of the actors means changing the cultural nuance of the story.
Roy Lee advised fans to watch the movie before criticizing it, which is generally good advice. However, he doesn’t seem to fully grasp the arguments against Death Note‘s casting choices. He ended the Buzzfeed interview by reiterating the “diversity” of Death Note‘s cast, failing to acknowledge the wider context of the whitewashing backlash.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor