Ah... who could ever forget 'Journey to the West'? For anyone who's lived through the '90s, the TVB drama series was the one thing that kept all of us glued to our TV sets every night!
Fast forward to 2017, Netflix has announced that it will be rebooting the classic Chinese novel into a 10-episode miniseries called 'Legend of the Monkey'... and the characters look quite different from the ones we used to know:
According to Huffington Post Australia, the series will follow a teenage girl named Tripitaka (played by Luciane Buchanan) who is joined by three fallen gods - Monkey (Chai Hansen), Pigsy (Josh Thomson), and Sandy (Emilie Cocquerel) - to embark on a dangerous journey to fight a demonic reign of chaos and restore balance to the world.
The miniseries, a New Zealand-Australian co-production in partnership with Netflix, is the latest addition to countless adaptations of the popular Chinese folktale. Known as one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, stories and characters 'Journey to the West' have been portrayed many times on film, TV shows, stage plays, comics, and other media.
While news of the reboot has generated quite a bit of buzz on social media, many have pointed out the lack of Chinese actors in the series' main cast despite the source material being a key icon in Chinese culture
Some also suggested that this might be another case of whitewashing Asian characters in Western media, such as the controversy surrounding the casting of Scarlett Johansson as a Japanese character in the live-action adaptation of the anime 'Ghost In the Shell'. Most recently, the Netflix English-language adaptation of Japanese manga 'Death Note' also received backlash for casting white actors instead of Asian-American talents.
On the other hand, it should be noted that not all the actors are, well, white. In fact, the actor playing Monkey is actually half Thai, while two others come from a Pacific Islander and/or Maori background.
Chai Hansen, the actor playing Monkey, is biracial - his father is Thai, while his mother is Australian. Luciane Buchanan, the NZ actress playing Tripitaka, is said to have come from a Pacific Islander/Maori background, with actor Josh Thomson (Pigsy) also coming from a Maori background.
According to YOMYOMF, Pacific Islanders are identified in the Asian category along with Asian Americans in the US. The same, however, cannot be said for Asian countries as well as for the Asian community in Australia and New Zealand.
'Legend of the Monkey' is expected to undergo production this year and is slated for a global premiere on Netflix in 2018
Will you be watching the Western adaptation of 'Journey to the West'? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!