Netflix Has Been Accused Of Whitewashing Over Its Yakuza Movie Starring Jared Leto

Move over Matt Damon.

The Outsider Jared Leto Whitewashing

Netflix has been accused of whitewashing over an upcoming action film about the Japanese criminal underworld starring noted caucasian Jared Leto.

The Outsider is due to be released on the streaming service in March. Directed by Danish filmmaker Martin Zandvliet, it’s about a soldier who joins the violent world of the Yakuza in order to repay a debt. Thing is, the soldier is played by Leto, who again — and I really cannot stress this enough — is very, very white.

The trailer for the film hit the web yesterday, and not everyone was impressed.

Of course, this being the internet, plenty of people were quick to insist that um, actually, the character was always meant to be an American, and therefore this isn’t technically whitewashing, and social justice warriors need to stfu, etc, etc.

Essentially their point is that this isn’t so much a Scarlett Johannsson in Ghost in the Shell, Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange type situation as it is a Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, Matt Damon in The Great Wall type of situation. In which case… it’s still really shitty?

Critics of the film also pointed out that the filmmakers could have easily retained the fish out of water premise by making the lead character an Asian-American and casting an Asian-American actor.

At the very least, the film looks like an obvious example of the super condescending white saviour trope. But more to the point, arguing that it isn’t whitewashing is to wilfully ignore the broader problem: time and time again, the entertainment industry overlooks and marginalises Asian actors and characters, even as it makes money by co-opting Asian culture.

It also means we’re not talking about the other big issue here, which is that Jared Leto sucks.

The Outsider hits Netflix on March 9.