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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

because no one would believe it wasn’t a white man saving the world

So, you know that Extraordinary Measures movie, in which Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford develop a drug to rescue little kids suffering from a terrible disease from dying way, way too young? Well, it turns out that while Fraser as biotech exec John Crowley isn’t too bad a choice as casting goes, Ford as “Dr. Robert Stonehill” is complete racist bollocks.

In fact, the two scientists most responsible for creating the treatment in real life — a process the film alleges to depict — are Duke University researchers Yuan-Tsong Chen, MD, PhD, a Taiwanese man, and Priya Kishnani, MB BS, an Indian woman.
Screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs explains in the press notes for the film:

There were many people who helped John [Crowley] along the way, from scientists to businessmen. And there were a number of doctors for whom John raised money. We composited all of these people into one character — Dr. Robert Stonehill.

Of course when fictionalizing reality, some winnowing down of events and characters is necessary. But there’s no reason — none at all — why the fictional composite doctor couldn’t have been Dr. Sanjay Kapoor or Dr. Yu Lin or Dr. Geeta Chopra or Dr. Ting Wu. And shocking as this notion is, people with those names could even be American-born: “Robert Stonehill” is the descendent of people who immigrated to the U.S. at some point in the past, too.

As RaceBending.com notes:

There is no one individual to point to here as an “instigator” of this whitewashing; but it is a reminder that Asians and Asian Americans are not permitted to portray themselves, much less others.

Actually, there is someone we can blame: Harrison Ford. He’s not merely an actor for hire in Extraordinary Measures: he’s one of the producers, one of the major creative forces behind getting the film made in the first place.

This has been your WTF Thought for the Day.

(Thanks to readers LaSargenta and Bluejay for their comments highlighting this whitewashing.)



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