March 24th, 2008


So ANGRY about upcoming "21" movie

I've been meaning to buy and read the book, "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" ever since it came out in 2002/2003. Bascially, it's about a group of MIT students, led by a former MIT professor, who use a rather sophisticated (though not exactly complicated, for a math wiz) numbers system to better their odds (!) in playing blackjack--and rake in millions of dollars. There's complications and consequences, but that's the basic story. And it's true, it really did happen, in the 1990s.

About a month ago, I spotted the book in a bookstore yet again and bought it immediatey upon seeing a new sticker on the cover, a sticker that indicated that a film had been made from the book that was coming out soon, a movie being called "21." So I realized that I better buy and read the book *now* so I can know the real story and then when I see the movie, I'll see how Hollywood bucked it up (as they always do). 

A few days later I saw a poster for the film that showed the students, a group of mostly white young adults. Remember that part.

Once I started reading the book, just this past Saturday, I detected the Hollywood Buck-Up immediately--seeing the film to "detect" it is not necessary! The deal with the MIT students, including, especially, the lead male character, is that they're Asian or part-Asian, and the leader, the former professor, is also Asian. Are these nationalities upheld in the film's casting of the students? That would be mostly a NO -- a few Asian actors are there, but they have supporting roles--in their own story!? The lead male character has been cast with an English actor from the UK--! The professor is being played by Kevin Spacey--his second time taking a role in a book-to-film adaptation where the character was originally not white ("Pay It Forward" was first). 

I find it very ironic that a movie whose story is based on Asian characters, most of whom have been re-cast as white, is being promoted with a big photo of the cast. Maybe they wanted to let fans of the book know right off the bat what they'd done?

Sigh. All of the problems with this are very well explained at the blog, Reappropriate, in the entry, Trans-Racialization in "21". The full description of the blog: " is a personal and political blog written by an angry Asian American woman." 

Also, feel free to read the blog at -- Mickey Rosa is the name given to the former professor character in the book. The actual former professor is the blog writer there -- whose name is John Chang.

What was so blankety-blank wrong with having Asian actors in a film that shows a story that actually took place among Asian people?! If they "can't" -- by Hollywood's paranoid and racist money standards -- star in their own stories, WHAT is the flippity-flipping point!?