Determining when a character has been whitewashed is, in theory, a rather simple task. Specifically, its a matter of asking oneself:
- Was Character X established as a Person of Color in the original work?
- Has an adaptation of that work changed Character X so that they are now White instead?
If the answer to both is “yes”, then whitewashing has occurred.
Of course, reality has ways of taking the simplest of tests and adding a whole bunch of complications along the way. For example, what if the answer to sub-question one is “yes and no”? This is the case with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ April O’Neil, a character who had no established heritage aside from her last name of Irish origin, and whose looks could change rather drastically between appearances, because apparently, her creators–Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird–had different ideas, and never definitively settled the question while they were working together.
Because people are complicated, there are a lot of differing opinions about this matter, most with at least some evidence backing them up. Hence, this series, chronicling the many looks she’s had, beginning with the moment of her creation and taking us all the way to 2014, where she is set to appear on the big screen once again, this time played by Megan Fox. The idea is not to argue for any particular conclusions–although I do have my own opinions on the matter–but simply to allow people to come to their own. Plus, I like timelines, I really like seeing the visual evolution of a concept, and I think that April’s is, in particular, really interesting.
We begin this first section in 1984, the year when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird for the second issue of their surprisingly successful comic book, and go all the way to 1987 when she was set to make her debut in the cartoon that changed the franchise forever.
Note: While comments for this series are closed–I do not feel that I am capable of moderating the particular discussions on race that this has the potential to lead into–feedback, either in the form of factual corrections or whatever thoughts you’d like to share, can be sent via the Contact Form at the bottom of the post.