By Shannon Carlson, Staff Writer
Vogue recently misidentified the cast of Crazy Rich Asians – and they aren’t the only major publication to do so. While this might not seem newsworthy, these actions have broader implications, pandering into the stereotype that all Asians look alike.
In their coverage of the Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG Awards), Vogue published photos of two actresses from Crazy Rich Asians, misidentifying them in the process. Tan Kheng Hua was labeled as Michelle Yeoh while Gemma Chan was labeled as Liv Lo, who was not even in the movie. People Magazine is also guilty of incorrectly labeling the cast: in a group photo from a SAG awards after party, only three of the six actors are labelled correctly.
It is sad but unsurprising that in the first Hollywood movie with an all Asian cast since 1993, the cast is mislabeled and mistaken for one another multiple times. Hundreds of movies with all white casts are released every year; these actors are rarely, if ever, mistaken for each other. Not many seem to confuse Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Chris Pratt, even though they are all white male actors with the same first name.
The problem of misidentification and mislabeling is not only limited to East Asians either – it affects all people of color. Noor Tagouri, a Libyan-American journalist, activist, and speaker, was featured in the February issue of Vogue Magazine but was misidentified as Noor Bukhari, a Pakistani actress. A minor mistake with heavy social implications.
In a caption on Instagram, Tagouri wrote, “Misrepresentation and misidentification is a constant problem if you are Muslim in America. And as much as I work to fight this, there are moments like this where I feel defeated.”
Misidentification not only diminishes and insults one’s career, but also their existence. As the Crazy Rich Asians actor Remy Hii tweeted, “When you fail to recognise our faces, when you consistently misattribute our names as though any asian [sic] performer is interchangeable, you erase our identities & you erase our humanity. You negate our achievements & talents with your ignorance. We’re not going to take it. Do better.”
Though Vogue issued a statement correcting the misidentification of Tagouri, Gemma Chan, and Tan Heng Khua, the problem is not fixed. Identifying people, specifically POC, correctly is not a lot to ask. Journalists and news publications need to at least do the minimum and give POC the recognition and respect they deserve.