Death Note Update: Now There’s A Boycott Petition!

Death Note petition
Fans say no to Caucasian cast of Death Note.

Fans angry with whitewashing of Asian anime characters have created a petition to boycott Death Note and Netflix. Great.

In case you haven’t heard, Netflix’s live-action Death Note series is being criticized for the mostly-all-white casting. You can catch up with Charlie Olsen’s post from a couple weeks back.

Activists recently created a Death Note boycott petition to rally support for the cause. The campaign has already gathered 16k+┬ásignatures of it’s target of 17,000, bringing them to 96% of their goal.

Some signers left comments which give insight into the debacle. Most everyone agrees the cast should be more or all Asian. It IS a Japanese story after all. Others are angry with the casting of Keith Stanfield, a black man, as the character L. They claim the problem is with the whitewashing + cliched casting that’s become quite common in Hollywood.

L hair
Fill in actor of choice here.

Here’s the Hollywood logic:

  1. Hollywood believes American audiences prefer films set in America, so the setting is changed.
  2. The characters are rewritten as Americans and mostly white actors are cast.
  3. Actors of color are sprinkled in to demonstrate diversity.

Hollywood has followed it for decades, but it actually seemed Netflix was pushing for diversity with the casting in some of their shows.

Seeing Marco Polo‘s mostly Asian cast and Narcos‘ mostly Hispanic cast was refreshing. Getting into a story was easier when I didn’t have to wonder why Ghengis Khan was just a cowboy in makeup.

Death Note seemed like a great opportunity for Netflix to keep up the trend. These shows proved that Americans are OK with stories set in other countries, starring actors whose ethnicity match the character’s ethnicity. Netflix chose not to this time.

Sarah Rose points out that Asian-American actor Edward Zo (a good choice for Light Yagami) auditioned for the movie but was not cast. He said,

This would have been an amazing opportunity for an actor of colour, for an Asian actor, to take the global stage and break barriers and break stereotypes… (but) they were not looking to see Asian actors for the role of Light Yagami.

This petition and the Ghost in the Shell uproar prove that audiences are taking notice of how shows are cast. Especially with anime characters and Asian roles.

Hollywood under-represents Asian actors, so it’s nice to hear them finally get some support. Netflix missed a great opportunity to step up to bat. Bad NF.

If you’d like to sign the petition, head over to The Petition Site.


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