Some will suggest that the racebending roles given to some of the actresses in Cloud Atlas mitigate or even forgive the use of yellowface in the film. This strikes me as tokenism of the worst kind. Placing a white performer in yellowface is to put a megaphone to the lips of an A-list actor so he can announce “chink” before an audience of millions. The equivalent use of “whiteface” cannot compare to the act, because there is no history of white exclusion from the American mainstream. In the last decade, 71% of Warner Bros movies’ lead roles went to white men. All other demographics – black, Latino, Asian, Native American, women of any race – have access to one-quarter the leading roles as white men…. All too often in conversations about race in the 2010s, it seems that the racial conversation is all about performing the same racist actions but justifying them with new words. The use of yellowface, or even blackface, can be justified if the director uses the term “post-racial” or “colorblind.” But an honest look at statistics and demographics reveals that our society is anything but. We cannot enter a “post-racial” world by pretending problems do not exist, by pretending that lopsided representation is justified.
Mike Le (“The Cloud Atlas Conversation: Yellowface, Prejudice, and Artistic License” | Racebending.com)