‘Whitewash’ of Chinese war hero provokes anger Selleck’s new Stone movie honors late author

SYDNEY, May 9, (Agencies): A film about an Australian-Chinese war hero in which the lead role is played by a white actor has provoked anger in Australia at the “whitewashing” of the nation’s history.
Billy Sing, whose father was Chinese and mother British, was a decorated soldier from the disastrous Gallipoli campaign of World War I at which he earned the name “The Assassin” for his success as a sniper.
But in the yet-to-be released television film “The Legend of Billy Sing”, his character is played by a young Caucasian actor.
“I’m very sorry to learn that somebody is trying to whitewash a Chinese-Australian face with a white face. It’s a disgrace,” Tony Pang, president of the Chinese Australian Forum told AFP.
“To see this distortion of historical fact — it’s sad.”
Pang said Australia’s Chinese community had been subjected to such treatment in decades gone by but that times had changed.

“The question I ask myself is what if (former prime minister) John Howard is being played by a Pakistani? It’s ridiculous. It’s just not appropriate.”
Director Geoff Davis, who cast his son in the lead role, defended his decision to The Australian newspaper last week, saying he had been unable to find an actor to play Sing’s Shanghai-born father.
The filmmaker said his aim was to “create a fictional story validated by having people perform true deeds, in the tradition of the historical novel”.
But former National Party senator Bill O’Chee, whose father was Chinese and mother Irish-Australian, said he was “deeply disappointed”.
“We’ll now have people growing up thinking Billy Sing was white,” he said.
Henry Makeham of the Australia-China Youth Association said the film was a lost opportunity to showcase the contribution of ethnic minorities to Australia’s wartime history.
There was no shortage of Australian-Chinese actors who could have tackled the role, he added.
“It was essentially a whiting out of a Chinese-Australian hero,” he told AFP.
Queensland-born Sing was an avid cricketer and kangaroo hunter before he enlisted with the 5th Light Horse Regiment.
He is credited with being the most successful and feared sniper in the Gallipoli campaign, having killed more than 200 enemy soldiers. He died in Australia in 1943.

LOS ANGELES: Tom Selleck’s sixth turn for CBS as crimefighter Jesse Stone is bittersweet: The movie is airing less than five months after the death of Robert Parker, the novelist who created Stone.
“Jesse Stone: No Remorse,” which airs Sunday evening, is dedicated to Parker. The author wasn’t involved with the production but saw the finished film before his heart attack in January, Selleck said.
Parker had given his blessing to the new Stone project as he had to the others, Selleck said. Parker appreciated the TV movies’ fidelity to his storytelling, according to the actor.
In “Jesse Stone: No Remose,” Stone is moonlighting on a serial murder case in Boston after being suspended from his job as police chief of a Massachusetts town. Kathy Baker and William Devane co-star in the CBS TV movie.

LOS ANGELES: Robert Downey Jr is packing a bigger box-office punch with his second “Iron Man” movie.
“Iron Man 2” took in $52.4 million domestically on its opening day Friday. That’s nearly a 50 percent increase over the $35.2 million first day of the original “Iron Man” two years ago.
That puts the Paramount release based on the Marvel Comics superhero on track for a debut weekend of $125 million to $135 million, which would make it the fifth-biggest opening weekend on the box-office charts.
The first “Iron Man” movie had a $98.6 million debut weekend.
“Iron Man 2” has taken in nearly $150 million overseas since it debuted in many international markets last week. Worldwide, the movie has climbed to a $200 million total.


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