Bryan Lee O'Malley is the author of the incredible comic book Scott Pilgrim, which became a movie with Michael Cera called Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Now O'Malley has written a fascinating post about what it meant that the world of the comics looked so white in the movie.
The post is in response to a question from a fan, who asked why there are so few people of color in the movie, but also the comic book too.
I think it sucks that Scott Pilgrim came out so white!!!!!!!!!!!
I am mixed (white + korean) and grew up being told that race didn’t matter — that race was kinda over. As with many things you’re told as a kid, it took me many years to realize that it wasn’t really true… It was kinda wishful thinking on the part of my parents, who were in a mixed relationship. I mean, I wish it was true, we all wish it was true, but it’s not true.
I did grow up in an extremely white environment. In northern ontario during the time I was growing up it was really just white people and Native / First Nations people. i moved to a bigger town in high school and i think my school had like 3 black kids and 4 asian kids or something. later in high school and in college I hung out with asian kids a lot, but White Canadian Culture was like 99% of everything around us.
so anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, what I knew in the first 20 years of my life was white people and a little bit of asian people and so that’s what I put in Scott Pilgrim. I had an unexamined non-attitude towards race and I didn’t think about it until years later.
Honestly, when i saw the Scott Pilgrim movie it was kind of appalling to see just how white it was — to not even really see myself represented on the screen… At least in the comic they were just cartoons. You can project yourself into a simple drawing of a person so easily; race seems to matter less (look at the global popularity of manga, where everyone is ostensibly Japanese).
He goes on to talk about how "complicated" the whole situation is, in a post that is both thoughtful about the movie's whitewashing — as well as how white his comic book already was.
Read more on O'Malley's Tumblr.
Author photo via Radiomaru