Roger Pulvers has written two recent Counterpoint columns on Hollywood’s “racial barrier” (Aug. 28, “Fame may be fleeting, but warm memories of Miyoshi Umeki live on,” and Sept. 18, “Mako: the Japanese-American actor who fought racist stereotypes“).
Pulvers says Miyoshi was “encaged in an image created for her in the highly race-conscious Hollywood of those days.” Miyoshi’s career trailed off in her early 40s, but how many actress/singers made it past 40 in those days? It was an example of sexist ageism, not necessarily racism. Pulvers has turned Miyoshi from a subject into a sock puppet for his unexamined views.
Miyoshi and Mako were gainfully employed in Hollywood, where she won an Academy Award and he was nominated for one. How many Western actors got featured roles in the golden age of 1950s’ and 1960s’ Japanese cinema? How many actors of any race win Oscars or are honored with a nomination?
Hollywood is not the headquarters of racism, as Pulvers implies. It is where racist stereotypes are broken. It is not a barrier, it is a place of liberation. While Miyoshi and Mako were working in films and on television, Pulvers’ adopted homeland of Australia was enforcing a strict whites-only immigration policy.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.