Netflix's Death Note producer defends whitewashing

Ben Lee
Photo credit: Netflix

From Digital Spy

A producer on the Netflix adaptation of Death Note has come out in defence of the movie, against accusations of whitewashing.

In the wake of Ghost in the Shell, The Great Wall, Iron Fist, and Doctor Strange, numerous people have spoken out about Death Note's controversial casting, with Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, and Keith Stanfield in lead roles.

And so, Roy Lee was asked about his thoughts on the criticism by BuzzFeed.

Photo credit: Netflix

"I can understand the criticism... if our version of Death Note was set in Japan and [featured] characters that were Japanese-named or of Japanese ancestry," he said.

So this makes some sense – and seems to be in line with some of Lee's previous projects like The Ring, The Grudge, and The Departed.

Lee continued: "It is an interpretation of that story in a different culture, so there are going to be some obvious changes.

"Some people will like them, some people may not.

"[The changes] make it more appealing to the US or to the English-language market."

Photo credit: Netflix

Death Note is not as problematic as something like Scarlett Johansson's Ghost in the Shell, which heavily relies on Asian culture. But some still see it as a missed opportunity to tackle the severe lack of Asian-American representation (particularly in lead roles) in Hollywood.

Why can't an Asian-American be considered the lead in a movie for the English-language market?

If Asian-Americans were suitably represented in the industry, chances are this project would not be receiving this amount of backlash.

The Netflix adaptation does cast Paul Nakauchi as Watari, although it remains to be seen how large of a role his character will play.

"People can criticise it, but I'd say that they should see the movie first," Lee said. "Then they could accuse us of not having a diverse enough cast.

"Just judge the movie after it comes out."

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