"Excuse me while I go giggle behind my delicate Asian hand."
So begins the blogger Michelle Villemaire as she describes her project to own a piece of Hollywood history by "correcting yellowface" in the cinema. Villemaire, who admits she is no photographer and hasn't a clue what an f-stop is, brought to life a one-woman project where she recreated famous Hollywood roles that had been "whitewashed" by non-Asian actors portraying Asians on the screen.
Villemaire started off her project with a remake of "The Good Earth."
"This role should have gone to my girl Anna May Wong," wrote Villemaire. "But back then it was illegal for People of Color to play opposite white people as romantic leads. Since they had already cast a white actor to play the husband- the role of Olan was played by Luise Rainer- a white woman of German descent. The academy awarded her an Oscar for it."
Villemaire admitted she was intimidated at the thought of replacing Katharine Hepburn, but with a little coaching from her husband, she managed to make herself do it.
She writes, "Katharine Hepburn. One of the greatest American actresses of all time. But hold up- what did they do to her face? Why I do believe they taped her eyes to make them appear more Chinese. This is yellowface with a capital yellow."
Villemaire recognizes the irony of her situation when she writes, "I considered calling this post Wictor Wictoria because it occurred to me that I was an Asian woman trying to be a white woman trying to be an Asian woman."
1940s actress Myrna Loy played whitewashed characters so many times, Villemaire had a hard time choosing just one photograph to recreate.
She writes: "Myrna Loy was one hot white- I mean Chinese girl! Shooting this one really started to mess with me and my ideas of beauty. That face! Those eyes! Those gorgeous BLUE eyes!"
The 2016 live-action production of popular Japanese manga series, "Ghost in the Shell" featured blonde-haired, blue-eyed Scarlett Johansson playing the beloved protagonist. Most of the criticism of the movie was leveled at the casting of a white woman as a Japanese cultural hero. At one point, it was even rumored that the director experimented with CGI that would put Asian facial features on Johansson's face.
Villemaire wrote: "Who doesn’t want to be a Japanese manga character!! You cannot blame Scarlett Johansson for wanting to play Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell, but maybe she could’ve just done some cosplay at Comicon and stepped aside for someone like Karen Fukuhara or Rinko Kukuchi or Kiki Sukezane or [insert Asian actress] or ME to have a turn?"