The Academy Awards are just a few days away, and one of the hot-button topics is the "Oscars So White" controversy. This year, none of the actors up for the lead or supporting categories are African-American, which has lead to some prominent Hollywood figures like Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and director Spike Lee to boycott the awards ceremony. This comes after a year where there were a few other racial controversies, including Emma Stone's portrayal of an Asian character in Aloha and Rooney Mara's portrayal of the Native American character Tiger Lily in Pan. During a recent interview with Deadline, Rooney Mara offered her thoughts on the controversy, revealing she felt "embarrassed" to be a part of it.
"I think that there are two sides to it. Yes, I do think it curbs art and creativity, and I also think that if you're going to go by that, you have to be able to...it has to go both ways. It can't just be that you don't want a white girl to play a certain part. It has to be both sides. And I do think it can curb art and creativity. That being said, is there whitewashing in Hollywood? Absolutely, and I feel really bad and embarrassed to be a part of that."
There have been a number of recent movies that have also been criticized for whitewashing, such as Exodus: Gods and Kings, where British actor Christian Bale and Australian actor Joel Edgerton portray two Egyptian characters. This weekend's action adventure Gods of Egypt also came under fire last year for casting Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Brenton Thwaites as Egyptian characters. As for Pan, though, Rooney Mara also defended director Joe Wright's decision, but added that she understands why so many are angry about whitewashing.
"In J.M. Barrie's book, the natives were not Native American. That was something later attributed and there's probably racism behind even that attribution. In the book, they're called the Pickaninny tribe, which is wrought with racism. But it was never my intention to play a Native American girl. That was never an option to me. It was (director) Joe Wright's pure desire to make the natives a conglomeration of many different cultures and indigenous people. To make them people of the world. He wanted them to be natives of planet Earth. I thought that was a really beautiful intention of his. That being said, I understand the anger about whitewashing. I completely do, and I agree with it."
Many are wondering how this year's Oscar host Chris Rock will address the whitewashing and "Oscars So White" controversy and the boycott during the awards ceremony, which airs live on Sunday, February 28 on ABC. Do you think whitewashing should be put to an end once and for all in Hollywood? Let us know what you think, and stay tuned for more on this issue as we get closer to Oscar Sunday.