When I saw the blackjack drama 21 at South By Southwest, I was instantly struck by its major flaws: It's full of clichés, and its supposedly brilliant main characters do a lot of stupid things. I had no idea I was missing another flaw, too -- that most of the real-life people who pulled off the scheme were Asian-American, while almost everyone in the movie is white.

People commenting on my review of the film mentioned this fact, and some subsequent Internet browsing confirms that it's been a hot topic among some observers ever since the film was announced. (I confess not having paid the film any attention until the marketing campaign kicked into high gear around the first of the year.) The character played by Jim Sturgess in the movie was named Jeff Ma in real life, and he and most of his teammates were Asian. In the movie, only two minor characters are still Asian, played by Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira.

So the question is: Is the ethnicity-swapping the result of racism? Is it something else? Does it matter?
categories Cinematical