This Highly Anticipated Movie Is Being Called Racist

Photo: Fox Searchlight
The movie reboot of cult British comedy Absolutely Fabulous would presumably be cause for celebration, but it's now sparking a conversation about racism in movies.

Margaret Cho, an outspoken female comedian known for her controversial stand-up routines, has accused the film of some racist casting. As a fan of the original television series, headlined by two iconic, chain-smoking, champagne-sipping female leads, Cho said she was excited for its revival — until she realized that one of the characters in the film, an Asian male designer, was being played by Scottish actress Janette Tough. In photographs from the set, Tough is seen in a short black wig, big sunglasses, and a long red coat.

Cho, who is a Korean-American, was deeply upset when she realized the casting choice. “I AM FUCKING SICK OF YELLOWFACE. Have some respect. Hire Asian actors 4 Asian roles. I'm not going to name the production but I'm DISGUSTED!” she tweeted.

This type of on-screen racism was also recently addressed in Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series, Master of None. In one episode, Aziz talks about the first famous Indian actor, who was actually a white man in brown-face makeup. This was Cho's point as well, that constantly having white actors and actresses portraying characters of another race is disrespectful, and often winds up reenforcing offensive stereotypes.

"It's hard enough to get into film and TV as a person of color — and when roles written for us are played by white actors — it's an outrage," Cho tweeted. Other publications disagree; one headline from The Telegraph reads, "Ab Fab film: 'Yellowface' isn't racist — it's called acting?"

Cho’s tweets open up a larger conversation about the portrayal of diverse cultures in the film industry, which clearly has a ways to go. At a time when women in Hollywood have been working harder than ever to create a more positive and inclusive environment for each other, seeing strong female personalities in the entertainment industry criticize each other hurts the most.

No producers or actors from the film have yet commented on Cho's critique of the film's casting choice. See her tweets, below.
Photo: via @margaretcho
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Photo: via @margaretcho
Photo: via @margaretcho
Photo: via @margaretcho
Photo: via @margaretcho
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