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Cobra Kai: Why Fans Are Calling Out Hollywood’s Racist Obsession With the Yellow Filter

cobra kai season 5 yellow filter

The West has a long-standing history of viewing the “other” or the “oriental” as something primitive, dirty, and not equal to themselves. Hollywood, being the epitome of all things West, is not too far in making it distinctly clear (or murky) how it views all that is not part of the “western culture”. So it does not come as a surprise that Netflix’s Cobra Kai is taking a similar route.

Cobra Kai Season 5
Netflix is back with Cobra Kai season 5

The Yellow-Bloody-Filter in Cobra Kai

The “yellow filter” as popularly known amongst the audience, has become a norm in Hollywood when it comes to showcasing countries like Mexico, India, other Southeast Asian countries, or countries from the Midwest. A yellowish tone is used when such countries are shown on the screen to depict tropical or dry climates. But after so many years, it has become a stereotype to showcase countries the west views as primitive and filled with poverty and crime.

Also Read: Cobra Kai Season 5 Review: Hits Hard And Shows No Mercy

In the latest season of Cobra Kai, one of the show’s main characters, Miguel Diaz is shown to be in Mexico. Diaz is there in search of his father, and the whole setting is saturated with the inevitable yellow filter. The kick of it is that the yellow filter appears only when the character is within Mexican boundaries. As soon as the character is back on American soil, the filter becomes non-existent.

Cobra Kai yellow filter
The fifth season of Cobra Kai brings in the yellow filter

This filter is basically Hollywood’s perception of the countries they view as the “other”. Directors since time immemorial, have used these different filters to depict different countries. India is shown in a bleak yellow filter, while Mexico is a strong yellow, and the Middle East is a dusty brown filter. This just goes on to show the stereotype Hollywood has been pushing on its audience for so long.

Related Article: Cobra Kai Season 5 Streaming Details: Where to Watch and Release Time in UK, US, and Canada

Now, with time, some people are finally talking about how this finally needs to go. And how Hollywood needs to step back from showing such culturally rich countries as nothing more than ugly, dirty, and savage.

When a cinematographer or director decides to use a yellow filter in scenes that take place in Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, their intention is to create a space that would make their intended viewers, who are primarily white, associate these places with poverty, and crime. The whole idea is to show how they are primitive when compared to the west, despite their rich cultural background.

Blue to the Yellow to the Blue

In contrast, while America itself does not have any filters on, countries like those of Eastern Europe are shown in light blue filters. Blue, which is taken as the opposite of yellow, depicts futuristic and modernized, progressive societies. Movies like The Wolf of Wall Street had a subtle blue filter to show the wealth and modernity of New York City. Similarly, movies like Twilight, and The Bourne Identity made similar changes in tone when dealing with American or European countries.

Twilight uses the blue filter
The movie Twilight (2008) made use of the blue filter

Cobra Kai would not be the first to have the yellow filter while showing Mexico. One of the most popular TV shows to have been ever made, Breaking Bad was mocked for its ‘Mexico filter’ whenever a scene was taking place south of the border. And it’s not just TV, movies like the Chris Hemsworth starrer Extraction or the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, while depicting countries like Bangladesh and India, made use of such similar effects.

Related Article: Extraction 2 Gets A Release Date Window, New Details About The Expanding Netflix Universe Emerge

It needs to be pointed out that the behind the scene footage of movies showcasing “other” countries has a much clearer picture than the actual movies. Netflix’s official page before the release of the hit movie Extraction released this behind the scene footage, with clear blue skies. But the actual movie scenes are saturated in murky yellows. And this is just one such instance, there are many more similar happenstances. Maybe it’s finally time that we move away from this.

Now, in the 21st century, audiences are finally speaking up about this stereotype we have been following for so long. Is it not time to finally step out of this trope that has been plaguing Hollywood for so many decades? Maybe it’s time we say goodbye to the idea of white supremacy, and along with it, the yellow filter!

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Written by Swagata Das

Swagata works as a Senior Features Editor at FandomWire. Having previously worked as a Content Writer, her passion for everything pop culture became her true calling as she now works with a global team of writers to brainstorm unique, groundbreaking ideas. Having done her Masters in English Literature, Swagata is a self-professed K-Pop addict with an affinity to work her charms on unsuspecting friends to induct them into the fandom cult.