Movie About Hiroshima Starring Evan Rachel Wood Has Asian Americans Crying Foul

The aftermath of Japan’s Hiroshima bombing is being made into a movie told from the perspective of a white person.

Has Hollywood learned nothing?

Asian Americans are justifiably infuriated over news that Westworld actress Evan Rachel Wood will star in a movie about Hiroshima.

She will play the role of author Eleanor Coerr, who wrote a children’s book about Hiroshima bombing survivor Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when the United States detonated nuclear weapons over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, 1945.

The title of the film is One Thousand Paper Cranes, named after Coerr’s book.

The title refers to Sasaki, who contracted and died from leukemia because of the exposure to radiation, believing in a Japanese legend that if she folded a thousand paper cranes before her death, she would be granted one wish. She wanted to choose to live.

The cranes remain a powerful symbol representing innocent lives lost during the nuclear warfare in World War II.

Moved by Sasaki’s story, Coerr, an aspiring journalist and young mother, wrote Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes which was published in 1977, two decades after Sasaki’s death.

The new film is essentially Coerr’s story.

 

Many of the victims of the atomic bomb were civilians.

The bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki claimed anywhere from 129,000 to 226,000 lives in both cities combined. 

Although the movie is not an example of whitewashing, the Huffington Post pointed out that many people are upset at Hollywood appointing yet another white person to validate the stories of people of color.

There is some confusion about the casting of Wood in a white role, which is of course, justified.

But the beef many people are having is Hollywood’s decision to tell the story of a white woman who wrote about a Japanese tragedy.

Sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen commented on the controversy, by raising a question about accountability.

“I wondered whether a story about the devastation of Hiroshima told through a white author’s lens would ever address the fact that the United States committed an act of war that killed a total of 192,020 people (including those killed instantly and those killed by the radiation in the aftermath).”

Yuen added that there are plenty of other stories about Hiroshima that are also deserving to be told, and that this movie “does not honor the victims.”

She also noted that Hollywood has yet to feature a film about Hiroshima that centered around the victims of the bomb.

“This type of story typically does not honor the victims because, like ‘The Help,’ the white female author’s voice becomes privileged over those of the women of color she tried to capture.”

Or they could go this route, but then Americans wouldn’t pay money to feel guilty about their historic actions.

To Coerr’s credit, she did shine a light on a story nobody else bothered to talk about.

Here’s hoping.

Wood will be joined by British actor Jim Sturgess and Japanese actress Shinobu Terajima. Production for One Thousand Paper Cranes will start later this year.

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