Whitewashing Movie Roles

Scarlett Johansson is white.

And yet, she’s playing a Japanese character in the new Ghost in the Shell movie. It seems like everyone and their mother has talked about this, so I won’t go into too much detail. Also, to be completely honest, Ghost in the Shell isn’t close enough to my heart for me to get upset about it.

Plus, Scarlett actually looks like Major, doesn’t she?


As long as they keep the plot intact, I don’t care.

Death Note is a different story.

In case you didn’t already know, the Netflix Death Note live-action movie trailer came out on Wednesday. This trailer got outstanding excitement and support . . . from people who had never heard of Death Note before. Those of us hardcore fans who had read the manga and/or watched the anime (or both, if you’re really obsessed like me), were pissed off. If you haven’t seen it, watch it before continuing to read this post.

The Death Note Trailer

Jesus, so many things to complain about. Let’s make a list!

  • Light isn’t blond and he doesn’t look like he’s addicted to heroin
  • Light doesn’t receive the Death Note that way
  • The movie is set in America instead of Japan, so now all the characters names are changed? Light Turner? Mia Sutton? (Not mentioned in the trailer)
  • Misa is not a brunette cheerleader, nor does she smoke
  • There’s no damn Ferris wheel scene! Where did that come from?
  • Watari, the only white character, is played by an Asian guy! Seriously, America?
  • Last, but definitely not least, L Lawliet is not black.
Light “Turner” Yagami
Misa Amane aka “Mia Sutton”
L Lawliet

This is a big conflict. People like me say L isn’t black, and everyone is quick to jump on the “You’re a racist!” train.

The reality is: I’m not being racist, I’m just being truthful.

L Lawliet is one of the main characters in Death Note, and my personal favorite anime character of all time. The way Takeshi Obata drew L and implemented all of his little quirks is just as important as the way Tsugumi Ohba wrote his dialogue and his actions. In fact, Ohba-sensei hadn’t really given L any personality at all when originally creating him. Takeshi Obata created L’s personality and endearing nature purely through his appearance when he was drawn. This is why L’s race is actually more important than any of the other characters. His appearance made him the character that he is.

L’s 1/4 Japanese and 3/4 white. His pale grayish-white skin is the result of his reclusive lifestyle, which he partakes in due to fear of making friends and social anxiety. The dark circles under his eyes are because of his lack of sleep. He doesn’t sleep because of the horrific crimes he’s seen in his line of work, which constantly give him night terrors. He has a trendy, K-pop idol hairstyle because he secretly craves to be liked by other people, but has no close friendships. He hopes his hair will attract people in hopes that they’ll befriend him.

All of that personality and backstory about L was created simply because his appearance. This is why L Lawliet is the one character in Death Note that has an appearance that should never be changed. I see why they casted an African-American actor to play L. We want more diversity in our movies, especially if the movie will now be set in America instead of Japan. But L is the one character they shouldn’t have picked. Light and his family could’ve been black, Misa, Takada, Mikami, the Kira Task Force . . . anyone!

Anyone but L.

“Sometimes, the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” -L Lawliet