Tilda Swinton plays the Ancient One in the new Doctor Strange movie and most likely succeeds in making you question your sexuality. The Ancient One’s origin story is that he’s a Himalayan male, yet in the new reboot the character is a Celtic woman. If you care about this, you’re a nerd or an asshole or a nerdy asshole.
Swinton recently emailed comedian Margaret Cho to begin what she thought would be a private conversation regarding her playing what was formerly an Asian character. No word on whether she hit up The Rock to see if he was offended at her playing a formerly male character. Also, unclear how Margaret Cho doing the Asian grandma voice makes her an authority on the subject. Though she is the only Asian person most people can name in Hollywood, so it might be you simply have no other options.
Cho responded with class by bashing Swinton as a white Colonial racist on a podcast and, after multiple confirmations that the conversation would remain private, releasing an abridged version of their email exchange casting Swinton in the worst possible light. Women hate each other. Swinton responded by releasing the full transcript of their conversation which showed Cho to have been pretty two-faced, and celebrated her moral victory with a tall glass of lotion.
Cho then negated whatever intelligent discussion was in the original emails by releasing a very basic statement devoid of the nuance Swinton was initially seeking out:
“Asian actors should play Asian roles. I believe my emails stand on their own and should be taken for the spirit in which they were intended. I am grateful that the debate has now entered the national discussion and remain a huge fan of Tilda’s. Now I’m going to go fall asleep at a museum.”
Swinton’s point was that she thought it was okay to blow off the Asian part of the character since the character had been changed to female. In other words, rich white women are going to change the world and fuck any Asians who get mouthy in the process. Cho’s point, as she said, was that Asians should play Asian roles. I thought the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Tibetans all had distinct cultures. Not in the case of casting. Yellow is yellow. If that’s the case don’t correct me when I call you Chinese, Margaret.
Photo Credit: Marvel Studios