The reason The Ancient One in ‘Doctor Strange’ is not Asian actually makes sense



Dr. Strange writer voices decision behind casting Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One

[dropcap size=small]D[/dropcap]r. Strange writer C. Robert Cargill has finally given a reason for the decision of casting white actress Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One (a traditionally Tibetan character). Cargill was recently on Double Toasted and had a chance to defend the film from allegations that it was being “white-washed”.

“The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.”

Tibet has been the subject of political debate for years and staying out of the debate is definitely in the studio’s best interest. The Chinese government believes Tibet to be under their control while Tibetan citizens recognize themselves as a free state. The studio decided to re-locate the story to another Asian state in order to avoid upsetting either party. This decision was just as much financial as it was political as China is likely to soon become the most important country in the global box office.

It is also very important to remember that The Ancient One is a title passed down from Ancient One to Ancient One. This means that it’s perfectly viable for this Ancient One to be white, and in the film’s case a white woman.

The Ancient One was born in Kamar-Taj, a farming village secluded within the Himalayas
The Ancient One was born in Kamar-Taj, a farming village secluded within the Himalayas

I’m sure we all wish we could live in a world full of harmony where nothing is offensive but sadly there are things in today’s society that mainstream media must be careful to tip-toe around to assure it’s content pleases as many different kinds of people as possible.

Dr. Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch and will hit theaters November 4th.


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