"Shame on you, HBO."
The casting of Peter Dinklage as the late actor Hervé Villechaize in an upcoming HBO production has triggered the Twitter crowd to call him out for "whitewashing." Hervé, critics accused, was half-English, half-Filipino. So why is he being portrayed by a 100-percent Jersey boy?
But here's the thing: Hervé wasn't Filipino.
Earlier this month HBO teased
But on social media the tone was less celebratory.
No. No. NO. Shame on you, HBO.— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) August 25, 2018
Herve Villechaize was French-born Filipino and British. Casting Dinklage in a wig and with a fake accent erases his real identity and tragic story and is a crushing blow to APA actors who could’ve owned this role. https://t.co/WdOPn3Rxkt
"Shame on you HBO," said CNN opinionator Jeff Yang. "Casting Dinklage in a wig and with a fake accent erases his real identity..."
The real identity Yang's referring to is presumably Filipino.
To the inconvenience of the enraged, however,
"The funny thing about the backlash is it addresses what we address in the film about not judging a book by its cover. Hervé was judged by how he looked, and cast and perceived to be who he is accordingly," said Dinklage. "
Dinklage expounded: "Maybe people were thinking of 'The Man with the Golden Gun,' which was shot in Southeast Asia, and 'Fantasy Island,' where he’s on an island, and that, compounded with how he looked, made some think he must be from that part of the world."
Dinklage also told EW that
"He beat people to the punch with the word, and he had a big middle finger up to anyone who tiptoed around any issues they had," said Dinklage. "Which I also respect. Sometimes I think we tiptoe around the issue so much we never address it. He was lovely in that way. He offended a lot of people, but that was part of his joy as well."
As for the spurious offense about
"Hervé would be laughing at this right now, and part of me is too. But when I start to be accused of things that are not truthful and not real, that’s when you want to say, 'Okay, calm down,'" said Dinklage.
Back on Twitter, Yang, who apparently elided the extra step of confirming
Twerrata: Wikipedia and social media in general were wrong, apparently: Hervé Villechaize did NOT have Filipino ancestry, per Dinklage outreach to his family. Apologies for amplifying what was apparently false information. https://t.co/YIGfi2Deg7— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) August 31, 2018
Adaam James is a senior editor at Pluralist.