“Isle Of Dogs” Accused Of Cultural Appropriation

By Jake Swartz

Video Producer

Wes Anderson‘s newest film, “Isle of Dogs,” follows Atari Kobyashi, a young Japanese boy who travels to a fictional Japanese island to find his lost dog. 

Though a simple and heartwarming concept, the film has been accused of cultural appropriation because the dogs in the film are voiced by white actors and the film itself lacks subtitles when the characters speak in Japanese. 

A controversial topic, members of the Lynn community chimed in with their stance. 

“If it’s an American produced film for a primarily American audience, what’s wrong with using American actors?,” said Mark Luttio, professor and Japan native. “I suspect that the Japanese who see this film are not even asking this question. It is what it is; taken at face value. Somehow, they know how to enjoy things for what they are, without over-analyzing it.”

Misrepresentation of minorities in film is not just a problem for the Japanese. When asked about representation of African Americans in film, students also raised valuable points.

“I personally don’t think Hollywood represents us,” said Spencer Jackson, senior. “Usually you will see the black person as either the villain or one of the henchmen. People need to better understand our culture and until then, we’ll keep being looked down upon.”

Being a minority filmmaker, senior Victor Mendoza feels that it is important to one day represent his race on the silver screen.

“I would love to be able to tell stories,” said Mendoza. “[So that] one day kids can watch a movie and be proud that someone understands them and someone who looks like them is being portrayed in such a positive light and grand scale.”

Whether or not “Isle of Dogs” is guilty of cultural appropriation, there is a clear problem with the representation of minorities in American films and many people hope a new generation of filmmakers will be able to lead the charge in being more inclusive.

Jake Swartz

Jake Swartz is a senior in the 3.0 accelerated degree program studying film and television. Swartz aspires to become a cinematographer shooting independent movies. His other aspiration in life is to own a fluffy corgi named Calvin.

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