Films like Doctor Strange and Ghost in the Shell presumably aren’t setting out to insult or mock Asian characters, or to demean Asian actors or audience members. But the truth is, the decision to cast a white person has consequences: in terms of representation, it robs viewers (of all races) of the chance to see greater diversity onscreen.
It helps to limit opportunities for actors of colour across the board, by implicitly enforcing the idea that white actors are somehow more valuable or more desirable within the industry. It implies that white faces are somehow more relatable, more worthy of “our” interest.
I love watching films because I believe in films we can “we” can be anyone but to repeatedly state that white characters are the heroes, the Chosen Ones, while every other race is left to be the sidekick or the wise elder passing down knowledge is simply wrong. It has always been wrong.
No Hollywood studio would get away with a horrific caricature like Yunioshi (Breakfast with Tiffany) these days, it’s true. But quiet and systemic racism, in many ways, is so much worse than overt racism. Mickey Rooney bellowing through buck teeth is easy to dismiss, but people still feel the need to defend and excuse whitewashing.