Director Taika Waititi has taken to Twitter to joke about how he’s Kiwi-washing Adolf Hitler in his latest movie Jojo Rabbit. Described as an anti-hate satire, Jojo Rabbit spent a good few years kicking around Hollywood, and was featured on The Black List (a list of the film industry’s best unproduced scripts) in 2012 before it was finally picked up by FOX Searchlight. Set during World War II, the film is about a lonely young German boy and Hitler Youth member (the titular Jojo Rabbit) who has an imaginary friend that - in his Nazi propaganda-filled head - takes the form of Adolf Hitler, albeit a friendlier version. Jojo’s world view is rocked, however, when he discovers that his single mother is harboring a young Jewish girl in their attic.
Alongside Waititi as the Nazi despot, the movie boasts an all-star cast that includes Scarlett Johansson as Jojo’s mother, Oscar-winner Sam Rockwell as a Nazi captain running a Hitler Youth cam, and Rebel Wilson as a brutal camp instructor. Filming began at the end of May this year, and shortly after, Waititi shared a first-look image of him in full Hitler costume looking every bit the part, scarily enough.
Yesterday, Waititi referred to his latest role when he joked on Twitter about “Polynesians taking all the white roles” in Hollywood. It was in response to a tweet from fellow Kiwi filmmaker Dylan Reeve, director of the documentary Tickled, who highlighted a conversation he’d seen on Reddit in which Redditor The_Great_Sarcasmo expressed their unease at Waititi playing Hitler, and pondered whether there weren’t any white actors who could’ve taken the role instead. This was met with a comment of “fucking Kiwi-washing in Hollywood is out of control” from fellow Redditor jthanny. Check out Reeve’s original tweet and Waititi’s response below:
Frikken Polynesians taking all the white roles. https://t.co/8X4xojuYmX— Taika Waititi (@TaikaWaititi) July 24, 2019
With a username like The_Great_Sarcasmo, it’s pretty obvious that the Redditor was joking, though their snark does make a good point. Just recently, some not-so-wholesome Disney fans voiced their outrage that Halle Bailey, a black actress, had been cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid. While The_Great_Sarcasmo’s words were presumably in jest, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if somebody really did kick up a fuss about Waititi playing Hitler.
Luckily, it seems Waititi - who recently stated he couldn’t wait to “ridicule Nazis” and that Jojo Rabbit will “piss off a lot of racists” - is prepared for this kind of reaction. Though we’ve still got a few months to go before Jojo Rabbit is released in October, in Waititi’s capable hands it’s sure to turn out to be a great satire. In the meantime, check out the recently released first trailer here.
- Jojo Rabbit (2019) release date: Oct 18, 2019