#STARRINGJOHNCHO IS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT THAT SHOWS YOU WHAT IT WOULD LOOK LIKE IF TODAY’S HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTERS CAST AN ASIAN-AMERICAN ACTOR AS THEIR LEADING MAN – starringjohncho.com
Year of Origin: 2016
Platform of Origin: Primarily Twitter
Yu read a recent study by UofC’s Bunche Center for African-American Studies, which proposes that films that feature diverse casts make higher revenues, even though only 1% of lead roles go to Asian actors. He was inspired to create a movement that visualizes a more diverse film industry for all viewers – general audiences and film studios alike.
Narrative Bender (leading figure behind the movement): William Yu, digital strategist.
Asian men are frequently stereotyped in Hollywood films and not often cast in leading action or romance roles that are more frequently offered to white and African-American men. Wu’s posters and those of the #starringjohncho movement visualize blockbuster films with one of Hollywood’s biggest male Asian stars, John Cho, and directs the mainstream (and white, Hollywood) imagination towards its blind spot. It concretizes the phantom and the so-called unimaginable. It does the work for us and shows that nothing, in fact, breaks.
John Cho’s replacement tells a new story because his body and subjectivity are positioned within our film and visual tropes. The new story is that an Asian man is sexy and powerful and has full agency. An Asian man always already possesses the full range of complexity that a leading character requires. An Asian man is not a plot derivative; this Asian man drives the plot.
Lineage (previous or subsequent social movements)
I couldn’t find evidence of a social movement (networked or material) that used as its weapon the visualization of Asian actors in place of Caucasian actors, but I’m certain this technique has been used in other spaces for similar movements.
Within one week of its arrival on Twitter, #StarringJohnCho inspired a similar movement for representation of Asian actresses, called #StarringConstanceWu.
BONUS – Subject/Movement Interaction!