"If it's going to be an Asian male in a film, he's going to be a goofy tourist or a science nerd or an evil character or a Kung Fu guy"
Sean Lennon has spoken up about Asian representation, slamming the industry for their casting processes.
American British Japanese Sean Lennon is the son of legendary Beatle John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Staying true to his family legacy, Lennon has been heavily involved in the music industry as a producer and songwriter in his own right.
His own musical legacy includes performing and recording with his band Claypool Lennon Delirium, producing albums by the Black Lips and Moonlandingz and also running a record label, Chimera Music. Recently, the record label reissued 11 of Yoko Ono’s albums.
Now, the Beatle heir has discussed his frustrations with the lack of Asian representation. Speaking to Papermag, Lennon said white men in the media only tend to cast white people. “[White men in the industry say], ‘Let’s change a story that’s traditionally Japanese people, (like in Ghost in the Shell,) and let’s make sure it’s a white girl.'”
However, Lennon doesn’t consider such decisions as racist and believes they are more driven by money. “It’s not like the people making that film are racist, they just don’t want to lose money,” Lennon says. “And they know if an Asian girl plays the lead in a huge franchise like that, it’s not going to sell as much. Should they make decisions that are morally or racially enlightened when it means they could lose money?”
Drawing on his own experience when trying to make his own film, Lennon shared his personal frustrations. “I was very offended myself when I was writing a script with some friends called Coin Locker Babies based off the novel by Ryu Murakami. When I was trying to get the film made, everyone told us, ‘”You can’t have Asian people in it.'”
“Basically, if it’s going to be an Asian male in a film, he’s going to be a goofy tourist or a science nerd or an evil character or a Kung Fu guy. Never a normal human being.”
Nonetheless, Lennon still tries to remain positive and hopes to see a change in the future thanks to technology. “I try to be optimistic because technology has made it easier for people to make records and films. There are films made on iPhones at Sundance.”
“All I know is that if the music, film, and book industry were thriving, they would be able to make decisions that aren’t just a reflection of economics. Why are there so many superhero films? Because they’ve been proven to make money. How do we make a society where intellectually stimulating art is being made? It’s hard because the investment side doesn’t want to take a risk.”