The Whitewashing of Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar

A lot of people online are talking about the forthcoming live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender and nobody has a single nice thing to say. The source of controversy: the four lead actors cast in the live-action version are all white.

Comic book artist Derek Kirk Kim wrote an impassioned blog entry about the casting choices and explains succinctly why this is such a poor decision on Paramount’s part:

“[Avatar is] wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!–it’s all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks–traditional Korean clothing–the design of which wasn’t even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show’s intentions and origins to think this wouldn’t extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don’t see any blonde people running around in Avatar. (I’m not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I’m just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.)”

To rub salt in the wound, this is what actor Jackson Rathbone told an interviewer about how he needs to prepare to play a role in Avatar: “I definitely need a tan.” Unbelievable.

Recently Madeline Ashby penned an excellent thought-provoking piece for FPS Magazine about the growing trend of live-action anime adaptations and the systematic exclusion of Asians from these films (the upcoming live versions of Akira and Cowboy Bebop also handed lead roles to white actors). She also ponders why movie studios don’t actually support the studios making the original works instead of trying to cash in with watered-down adaptations:

The anime industry is barely getting by, at a point in time when its global appeal is most highly recognized. As Roland Kelts points out in Japanamerica, people who believe that anime is a lucrative business for the animators or even directors are sadly deluded…But big names like DiCaprio and Reeves could give the industry a much-needed boost by following the Tarantino and Wachowski method: fund your own anime, rather than commissioning adaptations. For the cost of a Hollywood film, couldn’t you pay the people at Gonzo or Production IG or Bones to animate your own script? What if, instead of meatsack re-hashings of classic anime titles, we got fresh product done by professionals who know the medium inside and out?

Back to Avatar, an online letter-writing campaign has been launched encouraging people to write in about the film’s casting. Concerned fans are being asked to address their letters to Paramount’s head of production, Mark Bakshi, who, in an ironic twist, is the son of Ralph Bakshi, a filmmaker who always dealt frankly and openly with racial issues in his work. UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that though everybody is addressing their complaint letters to Bakshi, he was laid off from Paramount quite a few months ago.

(Thanks to Anson Jew who brought this story to my attention on Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page)


  • BobT

    To be fair, the characters Spike Spiegel and Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop could actually be played by white people. They don’t look particularly Asian. They’re not even born on this planet, they just happen to speak japanese because it was a japanese show.

    Not that we need any of these live action anime adaptations, but I’m just throwing it out there.

    The whole Avatar thing is really dumb though. I don’t understand how they were able to make one of the most respected american cartoons of the last couple of years and then piss all over it with this live action adaptation.

    How thick do you have to be to not even understand the concept of your own properties?

  • Gobo

    I wish I could say that I’ll withhold judgment until I see the movie and that I trust the director to know what he’s doing… but after “The Happening”, M. Night kinda lost that privilege.

  • urse

    I never understood the need to make live-action adaptations of animation in the first place.

  • Richard

    Gobo says, “I wish I could say that I’ll withhold judgment until I see the movie and that I trust the director to know what he’s doing… but after ‘The Happening’, M. Night kinda lost that privilege.”

    He went from M. Night Shamalon to M. Night Shameful. And this story sure ain’t bringin’ him outta his rutt.

  • AdrianC

    I understand the controversy and I more or less agree with those opposed to the current casting. Just for the record, I don’t think it would be such a heinous act to hire non-Asian actors to portray SOME of these characters, if it can be done convincingly. However, having all or many of the key characters portrayed by white actors is, to be put it mildly, a questionable choice.

    Also, I don’t see what is so offensive about Jackson Rathbone said. Although a tan would help him look more like Sokka, the character he is set to play (see this link for a picture of the character:
    http://www.quizilla.com/user_images/Z/ZA/ZAT/ZatchZenoBrago/1142057212_Sokka.jpg), I suppose some feel that it’s outrageous to claim that’s all he needs to look the part. However, Amid didn’t use the entire quotation. Rathbone said “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan.” I think this is less offensive.

    I also agree with what BobT said about Cowboy Bebop. In terms of physical appearance, I don’t think there’s anything particularly Asian about most of the characters’ respective appearances (well, maybe Faye and, to a lesser extent, Ed are exceptions), and I think this is especially true for Spike and Jet.

  • Chuck R.

    Amid, I’ll agree that the casting is odd, but I think you’re overreacting to the Rathbone quote. It sounds like he’s just sheepishly admitting that he doesn’t quite look the part. You’re practically accusing him of racism.

    I’ll agree with Bob T. that most anime characters don’t look particularly Asian —especially Ghibli productions. I could never figure out why.

  • Dante

    I find this so offensive. Jackson Rathbone described YELLOWFACE.

    This movie should have Asian actors in the lead role. How can you look at stills from the show and say that an all white cast is not problematic??

    Imagine if for Harry Potter they cast a boy with blonde hair for the lead? Harry Potter fans would be protesting because his hair color is explicitly mentioned in the books.

    Why then, in this case, the issue of the characters’ race being changed brushed aside by the filmmakers as a legitimate problem?

    I really hope that the studio are hit in the wallet for this short sighted adaptation.

  • http://agoynamedjew.blogspot.com Anson J

    Anime characters look big-eyed due to their roots in Osamu Tezuka’s drawing style, which owes a lot to Betty Boop. It doesn’t mean that the characters are supposed to be Caucasian. Big eyes are just an icon for youth and innocence.

    But the designs and situations in Airbender clearly indicate that the world takes place in some version of ancient Asia. Ignoring that in the casting and going for a whitewashed cast pisses all over the intention of the source material and is a slap in the face to every talented actor of Asian heritage.

  • http://agoynamedjew.blogspot.com Anson J

    “Film Maker: The M. Night Shymalan Story” starring Owen Wilson as M.

  • Ed Thompson

    “I really hope that the studio are hit in the wallet for this short sighted adaptation.”

    Although I agree with this, it does not seem to make a difference when it happens. Studios have been rebooting both live action and cartoon series without much success, but it does not seem to slow the studios from taking a show, retooling it beyond recognition, changing things to make it more “relevent to todays’ audience” and in the process annoying those who still love the original show while not attracting new people to their version. And after it sinks at the box office, they find another title and start the whole process over. Underdog and Get Smart come to mind for recent examples of this kind of Hollywood. Even X-Files didn’t do too well last summer, and it had a lot of people who had wanted to see another movie. There probably are a few, but can anyone think of a good remake/reboot of a movie or tv show that’s been made in the last 5-6 years? Does anyone in Hollywood KNOW how to make cartoons anymore?

  • http://agoynamedjew.blogspot.com Anson J

    Co-starring a tin of Shynola.

  • http://spitandspite.com SpitAndSpite

    I think the film will be good. M.Night is a good director but not a great writer so managing someone else’s content might be the best way to get a good film out of the guy again.

    I thought I heard the guy playing the lead role was a terrible actor in twilight?

    And yes what he said is offensive.

    Oh, and look at Gran Torino, how horrific where the Asian actors in that flick? I think they went as far as casting actual Hmong (is that spelled right?) people! I would have settled for less cringe inducing performances from any actors rather than than those two.

  • http://rafatoro.blogspot.com Rafa

    Sokka has blue eyes!!!
    So caucasian!!!

  • http://dailygrail.com/blog/8389 red pill junkie

    I admit that, because of the traditional use of wide-eyed characters in manga & anime, that some of those characters could be interpreted by white actors—Cowboy Bebop is a good example. Bubblegum Crisis too; and definitely Full Metal Alchemists is intended to portray white actors. Heidi? Well, I may have gotten too far :)

    But clearly with Avatar this is not the case. The settings, costumes, everything is Asian!

    I thought the days when people thought nothing of watching an actor like John Wayne play the part of Genghis Khan were behind us :-(

    But most of all, what I fail to understand is why the Japanese movie studios don’t do these Anime adaptations for themselves??

    If Robert Rodríguez can do Sin City in his home studio with a couple of digital cameras and a few blue screens, why can’t a small Japanese studio do a good live adaptation of some classic Anime?

  • Paul K.

    I agree with urse,

    I’m still trying figure out the psychology of why anyone would even consider making a live-action version of any animated series. Who would be the audience?

    Fans of the original animation — Negative response. They’ll look down at the pale imitation (see what I did there, in Avatar’s case, eh? ) The whole ordeal comes off as graceless, off-key, and awkward.

    Fans of animation in general — Negative response. They’ll remiss the squandered possibility for a animated feature wasted on a live-action adaptation.

    General movie going public — Negative response. The feature is destined to repeat genre conventions and offer nothing new as by being a live-action counterpart, it is by definition, a compromise in the intellectual property’s integrity.

    Action-movie fans — Negative response. Less caring about genre conventions and just wishing to have a good time at the theater will be disappointed at all the allowances made to recap the series’ exposition. Besides if the plot is weighted down in typical expectations, there’s a great chance the action sequences will be just warmed leftovers from better action movies.

    Teen celebrity fans– Positive response, yet don’t expect many repeat views to support consecutive box office gains. They might see it in theaters (and make up a lot of the opening weekend’s take) but most will wait for the DVD.

    So if it were my job to produce a feature film that would earn my studio the maximum amount of money, it just doesn’t make sense to initiate live-action adaptations of any form of animation.

    Sure, they may be gambling for that coveted “pre-installed” fanbase but by now, they’ve got to see the pattern by now. There’s too many artistic and financial failures to list at this point.

  • Jason

    Honestly, I think everybody should just chill about this. I’m a huge fan of Avatar, and frankly I could not care less if whites, blacks, Reticulans or Asians are cast for the roles. Avatar is set in A FICTIONAL WORLD. Where people have magical powers and can spew fire out of their mouths and battle with lightning, where a kid can get frozen into an iceberg for 100 years and survive, where bison are as big as elephants, have 6 legs and can freaking FLY!!! Jeez, what’s the big deal. Does Aang, Sokka, or Katara actually LOOK Asian? Yeah, yeah, Tezuka, blah blah blah, but many fans of the cartoon will probably yell louder if the three main characters in the live-action film bear scant resemblance to the cartoon characters they’ve come to love.

    This whole argument sounds like hyper-Affirmative Action to me. As an Avatar fan, all I care about is that the movie is as good as the show, if not better.

  • Hannah

    And so is the curse of Hollywood.
    It’s very sad, too. Avatar was (er… is) a great series and had one of the most well-thought out characters and storyline I had ever seen in recent TV animation. A real gem in the rough, I think.

    And it’s a shame it’s not getting the respect it deserves from Hollywood.

  • Badjoojoo

    Superman has blue hair!!!
    So punk rocker!!!

  • http://www.aniboom.com/video/284370/Good-Breeding/ AlexB

    It gets better! I just saw a new tidbit on Slashfilm.com.

    The film’s casting director is looking for extras, and is encouraging people to dress in their native ancestral attire. From her mouth:

    “We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire. If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.”

    A Korean kimono? Belgian lederhosen? It suddenly makes sense why the four lead roles were cast so poorly.

    On one last note about Cowboy Bebop…the only character who is explicitly Asian is Faye. Or, at the very least, she is known to have grown up in Singapore. And with Spike, that’s up in the air. He’s certainly not from America or any Asian country…he’s a martian, technically.

  • http://agoynamedjew.blogspot.com Anson J

    As weary as I am of Hollywood’s tendency to favor adapted material over original, and as disappointed as I am with the most of the results of live-action adaptations of cartoon material, Paul K. seems to imply that it shouldn’t/couldn’t be done at all. I disagree. Good film making is good film making. A good film maker can find a way to make a good film no matter what the source material. Just because it hasn’t been done yet doesn’t mean it can’t be.

  • http://sebastianhary.blogspot.com/ Sebhary

    Just wanna say I think Avatar is the best animated series of the XXI Century and I hope the “movie” will not destroy this.

  • http://www.zompist.com zompist

    So if the Japanese, say, made a film based on Macbeth, they should cast Western actors?

  • Autumn

    *sigh* I’m so hot and cold about this.

    I think it’s offensive to not cast asian actors for the lead roles, however, it seems like a large percentage of the people screaming “RACISM” don’t necessarily care if they’re the right ethnicity, so much as they just want them to LOOK ethnic. Which…is kinda racist.

    The acting pool for Inuit actors is pretty slim, especially here in America, so to me, technically, to hire on…let’s say, Korean actors to play Sokka and Katara would be just as off as hiring white. Sure, they’re asian, but they’re no more Inuit than any white person.

    As for Aang, I’m sure the acting pool of asian 12 year olds who are skilled in kung fu AND can act is slim too. But I don’t know, perhaps I’m ignorant to the whole process and don’t know how hard they even tried to LOOK for an asian Aang.

    And it’s true that the show, while BASED on asian themes, isn’t a REAL place. I mean…their continents aren’t of this world. And they breathe fire and manipulate water and have hybrid animals etc etc. So they CAN get away with saying “there’s no real race so they can be cast as anything” but still…..that’s pretty crappy of them to do when the whole show is influenced by asian cultures.

    I just don’t know what to think about any of it. I’m upset, but not THAT upset.

  • Badjoojoo

    “So if the Japanese, say, made a film based on Macbeth, they should cast Western actors?”

    Absolutely, if it takes place in a setting that resembles Elizabethan era Europe.

    Jason: What would you think of a version of Excalibur or Snow White that takes place in England with an all Asian or all black cast? Those are fictionalized versions of Europe with magic and stuff. How about the Hobbit with an all black cast? That’s also a pseudo-European world with magic and stuff. There’s nothing in the book as far as I know that explicitly says Hobbits are Caucasians.

  • Killskerry

    Recently I have also heard rumors that the Anime Deathnote is going to be made into an american adaptation. While one character in the story is described as being british the other character is definetly japanese. Yet he has already been cast by a popular american actor. The lead singer from Disney’s High School Musical.

    disgusting.

  • RedK

    Japan doesn’t have a significant population of Caucasians while America has lots of Asians. Also, the usual method of localizing a story is to make an adaptation – hence, Akira Kurosawa’s take on “Macbeth,” “Throne of Blood.”

  • Charles

    Well, looks like it’ll be going the way of Dragon Ball. I just don’t see how they couldn’t find any Asian actors for these roles. I mean, everyone in our race knows kung-fu.

    All kidding aside, I think it’s complete bullshit that Asian people are hardly a lead in any movie if it isn’t martial arts related or an all Asian cast. In this case, don’t make a live action movie. Make a ridiculously good animated movie. But that’s pie in the sky because these flunkies are looking for a quick buck.

  • Amalia

    zompist: FYI, it’s called “Throne of Blood” and the story was reworked to be set in Japan. Much like the story was basically reworked in The Lion King. You can rework a story, but if you change the basic cultural underpinnings it might be the same story but it might as well be completely different. But still, a story about lions is somehow vastly differently from a story about some Japanese samurai and likewise different from a story about some Scottish guys, yes?

    AdrianC & ChuckR: It is offensive. I’m an Asian-American female. Are you saying to play a white character all I have to do is bleach my skin and bingo! Instant Caucasian!? I don’t think so. Sokka and Katara’s skin color is not a “tan,” it is their natural ethnic skin color. If they were played by Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, all of that would have been fine because it would have been a nod to the fact that these characters ARE NOT WHITE.

    Tropic Thunder’s treatment of blackface was funny because it was shocking and incorrect. Are Asian-Americans such non-entities that an offhand comment about yellowface is something that we’re just supposed to ignore as “no big deal?” It’s not that we’re perceiving racism where it doesn’t exist; it’s that racism is being ignored where it DOES exist in the popular consciousness. Oh, it’s not the “Asian people are all inferior” kind of racism, but it’s still there. What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of an Asian person?

    I was born in America, I don’t have an accent, and I’m bad at math. How many times in your life have you, as a white American, been asked where you “come from?” And after saying a U.S. state been told “no, really, where were you born?” Or told by someone that “it must be so nice to have a tan all year long.” Or told that your English is “really good?” I grew up wanting blonde hair and blue eyes because all the girls in cartoons with black hair were always evil. (Lady Lovelylocks, She-Ra, He-Man, etc.) Should my kids have to grow up in the kind of environment where they can’t see themselves reflected in popular media? Where they can’t have any heroes that look like them? Where the only Asian characters are the ones with thick accents or the “side-kick” roles in adaptations of movies that should have Asian leads (21, Avatar, Dragon Ball Evolution)?

    What is wrong with taking a show based on Asian cultures, Asian martial arts (yes, all the bending is based on Asian martial arts), and Asian mythology and not casting a single Asian or POC child as one of the main cast? I think it should be self evident.

    ChuckR: You might find this link illuminating: http://www.matt-thorn.com/mangagaku/faceoftheother.html
    Anime character’s don’t look white. Basically, your default is white. Guess what, as an Asian-American raised in a white culture, my default is white too. But in a cartoon like Avatar, I try and I try to see what all these people who only see white characters are seeing, and yet I still can’t see anything but people of color.

    Paul K: A cartoon live-action adaptation that did well lately? TRANSFORMERS.

  • http://reanimate.ca Chris L

    @zompist: Are you making a reference to Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” – which was a version of “Macbeth?” Because that was a re-imagining of the original story, set in medieval Japan. It would’ve been a different if he’d called it Macbeth, set it in Scotland, and then cast nothing but Japanese actors in it.

    In the case of Avatar, they are re-imagining nothing: it’s a direct adaptation. All the characters in the original are asian (or at least “of colour”). Not even putting one asian character in a lead role is absurd.

    The same goes for Akira. I haven’t been following it, so maybe it’s not set in “Neo-Tokyo” – but again, it’s a direct adaptation being made of a story that takes place entirely in Japan. Nonsense.

    @Jason. Your argument doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Yes, it’s fiction. So is Akira, and so is Ninja Scroll (which apparently is also going to be adapted, quite probably with white actors). Avatar is fiction set in an environment that is inspired directly by Asia. Featuring characters that are clearly supposed to be Asian. Asians are _not_ fictional, so there’s no reason why such blatant license need be taken with the casting.

    @Dante. I want to second your comment about Yellowface. It’s totally shameful.

  • http://reanimate.ca Chris L

    Oops. Looks like someone else got in there with “Throne of Blood” before me. Regards.

  • The Second-To-Last Airbender

    Amalia:
    “I grew up wanting blonde hair and blue eyes because all the girls in cartoons with black hair were always evil.”

    Sweet mustard, woman! Did no one explain to you the folly of basing your life off of cartoons?

    “Should my kids have to grow up in the kind of environment where they can’t see themselves reflected in popular media?”

    Ah. I see. If only your parents had agitated for a world where the darkly-tressed were reflected positively in popular media, your life might not have gone so sour. You know, I’m a Protestant Christian. Popular media’s portrayal of Protestant Christians is 100% bollocks. Do I give a crap? No. I’d just as soon *not* look for my reflection in a television screen.
    Avatar will be made with recognizable Caucasian actors because that’s what will bring in the dosh. They win (since studios are in the business of making money and not raising cultural awareness). Hopefully the movie will be entertaining. We win (since audiences go to movies to escape reality for awhile, not to sit in on a meeting of the CNRS).
    And for everyone bitching about dedication to the purity of the text, I can think of two instances in recent memory where the shoe fell on the other foot, and fine by me:
    1- Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin in “Daredevil” and
    2- Mos Def as Ford Prefect in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

  • http://www.hunteachother.com Max W.

    Isn’t this an American – produced anime series anyways? That’s what I always thought… Or at least american – created, american – written?

  • John

    I swear, EVERY time I see this discussed, somebody brings up that “anime characters don’t look Asian!” nonsense.

    It’s not that anime characters don’t look Asian, ChuckR, it’s that they don’t look like lemon-colored squinty-eyed caricatures/stereotypes of Asians. They don’t have the visual tags that white Americans associate with Asianness.

  • Matthew K Sharp

    The most disappointing thing about this is that you know somewhere someone held a focus group in which a bunch of white people said (probably anonymously) that they don’t like seeing brown faces in their films. And they got listened to.

    As for the whole live-action adaptations of animated originals issue, I can only assume this is some kind of obscure revenge tactic by the generation who grew up with animated versions of live-action shows like Star Trek and Happy Days…

  • Steph’

    Well, I’m definately looking forward to seeing Avatar–that’s that new James Cameron movie, right?

    Seriously, I’m of hispanic origin and Amailia is totally right. I got the same treatment of “where were you born” and crap in “lived here all my life” Mississippi.

    In the late 80′s, while I was in a “two person animating class” (working with a expensive animation program the university bought that the programmers having not gotten paid by the company refused to tell them exactly how the program worked)–which basically amounted to digitizing zits off the university’s football players to send to local tv broadcast for class credit, I was asked to come help with a film project “that I would be just perfect for”. I was puzzled, since I was pretty nerdy and not that photogenic.

    When I showed up, they were filming foreign recruitment films for the university and they wanted some “ethnic” people there. The people in charge of the production were all talking slow and simple like we were all backwards and couldn’t understand English. Needless to say, I walked out.

  • Barbara

    hey guys. I agree, they should really cast Asian actors in a show made by Americans with American voice actors speaking English. Oh, set in Asia.

    If you guys are going to complain about one thing, go the full nine.

  • la Rocha

    Ha! Incase you have just woken up, ALL popular media is white!
    I am forced to love what I can’t have. I am gonna go and listen to some rage against the machine now…ah forget it..it tires me..I am just gonna continue with my life now..thank you world.

  • Joe

    Wait, so does this mean I should be obligated to spit on Alec Guiness’s grave for putting serious work in portraying believable non-Caucasian roles.

    And really, if people are going to torch these actors, why no do it for the non-Asian voice actors of the main cast and the scriptwriters for the clearly modern American script-writing in the original television show? And in regards to the cultural aspects, who’s to say the film isn’t going to at least attempt to employ them throughout the film, even in a faux sort of manner.

    It seems these days, people get a bit carried away when giving such myopic criticisms to an interpretive artform

  • Dave

    “could give the industry a much-needed boost by following the Tarantino and Wachowski method: fund your own anime, rather than commissioning adaptations. For the cost of a Hollywood film, couldn’t you pay the people at Gonzo or Production IG or Bones to animate your own script? What if, instead of meatsack re-hashings of classic anime titles, we got fresh product done by professionals who know the medium inside and out?”

    This is true , but it could be applied beyond the Japanese anime industry .

    If Hollywood studios would fund original cartoons rather than simply raiding the classic cartoons as fodder to make meatsack re-hashed live-action versions then maybe the art of hand-drawn animation would flourish again .

  • Buck Timmly

    Meh, go with how the character looks, not what their “ethnicity” is (it may be based on Asian culture, though technically not Asian so horray for loopholes). Aang looks white, so make him white for all I care. Interesting to note how no one complained about Aang, Katara, Toph, or Sokka being VOCIED by white people, so why complain if their BODY is now being played by white people? Why does no one care they didn’t have an “Asian voice” but now they don’t have an “Asian body”? I say we go one step further and refuse to hire anyone for the role of Sokka unless they’re actual Water Tribe.

  • http://caseymoore.blogspot.com Casey Moore

    Keanu Reeves is part Chinese and part Hawaiian.

  • Badjoojoo

    Okay, so…

    A movie is being made that takes place in a stylized ancient Asia. Ancient Asia was populated by Asians. The decision was made that the movie would be cast with white actors playing the Asian roles. This is because it was determined that using white actors to play the Asian roles will bring in the “dosh” and that Asians playing the Asian roles will not bring in said dosh. Fair enough, since everyone has the right to make some dosh.

    Being the savvy businessmen that they are, I think it’s fair to assume that they made this determination base on some kind of evidence…right?

    Show of hands please. Who here will NOT give up the dosh for Asians playing Asian roles?

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com/ John Paul Cassidy

    What do you expect from Hollywood? This is the same country where Super Sentai is turned into POWER RANGERS, because dubbed Japanese actors are apparently no longer identifiable with Americans. (But they can accept anime. Go figure.) They wanted to be “politically correct,” and I see Political Correctness as nothing more than hubris, just like that of Hollywood.

    Ironically, the same thing happens to an American-made anime series that happens to feature pseudo-Asian characters.

    Outside of black American people, no other race can be trusted in the US or the Hollywood community. Asians are still regarded as an embarrassing stereotype to the US. (Few people like Quentin Tarantino understood the various Asian cultures and made them cool and acceptable to American audiences.) Hollywood only wants either “name” actors, or just actors with teen emo appeal like TWILIGHT.

    Regardless of whether or not the big wigs over at Paramount change their minds over this issue, the fans will ironically flock to theaters to see this movie. Just like they’ll see the similarly bad DRAGONBALL movie. They’ll eat up anything with AVATAR on it.

  • Andrew Laubacher

    “It has been pointed out to me that though everybody is addressing their complaint letters to [Mark] Bakshi, he was laid off from Paramount quite a few months ago.”

    Bakshi’s replacement seems to be ADAM GOODMAN, President, Production, Paramount Pictures. Goodman is overseeing development and production for Paramount Pictures, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies, as well as co-production projects in development from DreamWorks Studios.

  • The Obvious

    A few quick points.

    I was under the impression from interviews that Aang was based on Mike DiMartino and that Zuko was based on Bryan Konietzko (the two creators of Avatar), both of whom suffer from a terminal case of what doctors call “whiteness”.

    Also, the film has a South Asian director.

    Calling the casting in this film “whitewashing” seems a bit excessive.

  • vzk

    I’m a blonde, blue-eyed Mexican and no one would believe it at first, even though both my parents and grandparents from both sides were Mexican (My father had the typical brown skin and straight black hair latinos are usually depicted on the media, and my mom has lighter skin and dark-brown hair).

    As weird as it seems, many (if not most) albinos are actually of African blood. There are even some asians with natural blonde and red hair, even in the Southeast.

    As for anime characters looking “caucasian”, many of them don’t even look like any real race! Have you ever seen ANYONE with natural pink, green, purple or blue hair?

  • Altred Ego

    Is it “whitewashing”? Of course it is.

    Is the Dragon Ball casting “whitewashing?” Of course it is.

    When you make Beverly Hills ___, you employ white actors. Same for LOTR, Spiderman, Harry Potter, etc…

    The argument has traditionally been that the SOURCE material calls for white characters. This is true in almost all of these cases. No one complains. Non-white audience members may sigh and wish for representation, but we accept that the source material is what it is.

    This is like all those “hip-hop dance movies” that lift modern black dance culture, but have only white actors in the leads. There are plenty of black people around for “authenticity”, but the leads go to white actors.

    The Avatar debate is a fight that has been simmering for years. But everyone waited to find the right time to say something. AVATAR is that movie. I think the issue is not ‘they are white and somehow not good enough to play the roles”. The issue is that there are few properties out there that have Asians as the SOURCE material. White Harry Potter should equal Asian Avatar. But it doesn’t and that is why the fuss.

    There are few good roles for Asian characters or black characters in mainstream North American media. Here is a perfect opportunity to cast a team of young Asian-American actors in a role that was really written for them, but they’re put aside because in 2008 there is a fear that white people won’t go see Asian heroes. If there were already established young Asian actors, this might have been different. But with a high budget, they want bankability. I understand this. But if no one will use Asian actors, how do you get bankable Asian actors? No egg, no chicken.

    As for the voice argument, that’s pretty silly. When you watch dubbed anime, you hear american voice actors, but the characters are still JAPANESE. When you replace Asian characters for white ones, they’re white. The characters are no longer Asian.

    As for the South Asian film director, no one cares. If Jon Favreau had been at the helm, no one would be writing petitions for an asian director.

    What is at issue is an opportunity to have people represent themselves. Asian culture is good enough to base the entire world of AVATAR on, but so long as actual Asian people are in the background and white people are up front. This sounds very similar to the story of black music: Jazz and the Blues. It’s cultural appropriation.

    At the end of the day, the filmmakers will do whatever they think will make them the most money. That’s fine. I just hate how people refuse to see what in any other circumstances would be obvious. Goku is an alien….and therefore white. The irony of course is that to North American culture, an alien would be Asian.

    AE.

  • http://www.jessica-plummer.com Jessica Plummer

    Don’t cry about Avatar too much guys. At least they picked some awesome matching faces (and actual martial arts specialists) for the Tekken movie. And at least these are not….Dragonball (shudders).

  • http://www.dltad.blogspot.com A.M.Bush

    What a nail in the coffin for M. Night this abomination is gonna be. Not that I watch any of this fake american anime anyways (I don’t really watch the japanese kind either)

    But you have to have some sympathy for the studio, you figure there probably isn’t a whole lot asians in Hollywood to cast from. An all asian cast would probably be a bunch of nobodies and B-list actors. What producer is gonna want to invest their money in that?

    Also
    Amalia- you outta try moving to the Bay Area or Toronto, or somewhere with a lot of asians. I have never wanted to be white, you have issues.

  • Jason

    ***@Jason. Your argument doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Yes, it’s fiction. So is Akira, and so is Ninja Scroll (which apparently is also going to be adapted, quite probably with white actors). Avatar is fiction set in an environment that is inspired directly by Asia. Featuring characters that are clearly supposed to be Asian. Asians are _not_ fictional, so there’s no reason why such blatant license need be taken with the casting.**

    “Clearly supposed to be Asian”? But Aang, Sokka, Katara, Izula and many other Avatar characters *do not have Asian facial features*. So why should they be cast as Asians?

    I’d like to know how the CREATORS of Avatar feel about this. Are they kicking up a fuss over the film’s casting? If not, then I think this entire argument is bogus.

  • http://spum-blog.blogspot.com J. Spumkin

    You know, this wouldn’t be that bad…

    If the show’s villain (Prince Zuko) weren’t played by Jesse McCartney! Come ON! I know he might do a great job, but I have never been able to take him seriously.

    As for the movie…do we really need this?

  • http://www.abelboddy.com C.Edwards

    For those of you who think that live action remakes of animated shows don’t work, I draw your attention to “Aeon Flux” — oh, wait… nevermind

  • http://www.coffeeroll.com JPDJ

    All this debate concerning the choice to use white actors to play Asians makes my head hurt. Suffice it to say I would’ve been less opposed to this live-action Avatar had the producers at least chosen actors who could actually act. The Tiger Beat leads don’t inspire confidence.

    I’m not thrilled about M. Night as director either.

    I admit that I’m disappointed that the filmmakers chose to ignore the opportunity to showcase a culturally diverse cast, but who knows? Maybe this film will work out and we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.

  • Oluseyi

    Eh. The movie’s going to suck anyway. White people, Asian people… Shyamalan is just not a credible director with me.

  • EB

    I can’t imagine anything less interesting than turning a multi-hour extended storyline into a 90-120 minute live action Hollywood action-effects show. Ugh.

    On the other hand I plan to show up for casting in my traditional Canadian grass skirt and fez.

  • Amalia

    Joe & Buck Timmly: What difference would it make if they had Asian voice actors? What do you even mean by “Asian voice?” My voice sounds exactly the same as a Caucasian person’s. If I was speaking to you on the phone you wouldn’t be able to tell I was Asian-American. We don’t all have super-thick Asian accents.

    The nice thing about voice acting is that it REALLY IS just about the ACTING. BTW, Zuko’s voice actor is Filipino and Mako, who played Uncle Iroh, was Japanese. So it’s not like there wasn’t any Asian representation in important roles on the voice cast.

    You also can’t use the “best actors got the part” argument here. I mean, seriously, Jesse McCartney?

    And yeah, that’s terrific, let’s employ Asian culture in a “faux manner.” So all-white main cast, surrounded by Asians, living in Asian-influenced buildings, eating with chopsticks, writing in Chinese, and this seems super believable to you why? (Okay, not even getting into Serenity here. At least it has the excuse that it’s “in the future.”)

    The Second-To-Last-Airbender: I did not “base my life off of cartoons.” I got over the whole “blonde hair blue eyes” issue in grade school because I realized that I was fine the way I was because I grew up in a relatively accepting environment. I understood that I was a minority in a country where white was the majority. My life “did not go sour.” But when you are FIVE YEARS OLD who are your heroes? I don’t know, maybe the people you see being cool on TV and in the movies? Can you really expect every child to just ignore the fact that they never have “cool” role models that LOOK LIKE THEM?

    Let me ask you, did you grow up in an environment with other Protestant Christians or did you grow up in a community consisting entirely of Hindus (first religion that popped to mind, feel free to substitute with any other religion of choice)? And in every media representation you saw, Protestant Christians were the bad guys? Have a little perspective.

    I don’t think religion and race are equivalent, anyway. Maybe I’m a Protestant Christian too? That doesn’t change the fact that I’m Asian. That doesn’t change the fact that I see Christians on TV all the time, poorly portrayed or not, and rarely, very rarely will I ever seen an Asian face.

    The Obvious: Yeah, and I can base a white character on my personality too and that wouldn’t change the fact that even though I’m Asian, the character was white. Or hey, maybe I could write a story about an elf prince who was based on myself? Doesn’t change the fact that I’m not an elf, a prince, or a guy. J.K. Rowling based Hermione on herself. Does that mean she’s a witch? No. Your point is . . . what, exactly?

    @Max W and Barbara: Hey, guess what?! I’m an ASIAN-AMERICAN. And I live in America and speak perfect English too! And there are millions more just like me! Imagine that. I don’t think anyone is advocating that we go to Asia and get foreign talent to play the roles but rather that we give American kids who just happen not to be white a chance. So your argument holds no water.

    A.M. Bush: I do not “have issues,” thanks (and living in a more Asian-populated area would probably have been good for me as a kid, but it doesn’t matter either way now). I never “wanted to be white.” When I was five years old I wanted to be an Asian with blonde hair and blue eyes to fit in better, yes, but I have never been ashamed of my culture or my upbringing. And when I was a little bit older and realized I would never look like everyone else who lived in my community (I was one of 2 Asian kids in my grade school and one of 4 in my high school of 3000), I made my peace with that. It’s okay to be who you are. I just want other kids to be to not even have to be forced to go through that realization because they ARE represented in media; they ARE shown as important members of society; they ARE allowed to be cool or be the heroes sometimes.

    But guess what? Hollywood, Paramount, and this movie are all saying the exact opposite of Avatar, the show. They’re saying it’s NOT okay to be different; it’s NOT okay to be anything but white. If you’re not Caucasian, you CAN’T BE A HERO. You’re not good enough. People won’t accept non-Caucasians as leads. People won’t go to watch the movies you’re in where you actually get to do something important. Because YOU DON’T MATTER. Is this REALLY the message we want to give to those kids? Please just take a moment and think about that.

    This is a movie for children. And what they take away from the things they are exposed to and watch when they are young are the things that will help mold and change who they will become in the future. Do you really want them to take this message to heart? That even if there’s someone who looks like you, grew up in a culture like yours, and gets to be a hero who saves the day . . . sorry, but we lied. Those kids with your skin color, those kids practicing Buddhism, eating with chopsticks, wearing your traditional clothes, and eating your cultural foods? Those kids were really white all along. You don’t exist and you never will.

  • Badjoojoo

    Wow, this sucks. Nobody is responding to my survey. Who here is NOT willing to spend money on a movie that shows Asians playing Asians?

  • http://www.abelboddy.com C.Edwards

    Based on the length of that post, I’m gonna second A.M. Bush’s sentiments that someone does indeed have some “issues”…

  • Buck Timmly

    Amalia: Obviously an “Asian voice” is with a heavy accent, if you are to believe the public opinion. Just like an “Asian face” has slanted eyes… none of which fit Aang. My point is what exactly makes a character Asian? If it’s just because the creator said so, then again, why not have an Asian person voice the character if its so important to their character? Or, for that matter, have them actually look the part? A lot of people I talked to who have never seen the show before, think Aang is just a typical white kid… only bald, since he has none of the physical features people associate with Asians (slanted eyes, apparently). Unless someone can name a physical feature that differs from Caucasians and Asians, one which Aang possesses that feature, I see little to complain about. The way it is now, he’s supposedly based on Tibet, yet he has a “white voice” and a “white appearance”. Avatar was whitewashed alright, except it was by the creators of the show, not Hollywood. Very few characters on the show “look Asian”.. and Aang and his pals aren’t any of them. (Not that I agree with Katara and Sokka are white, but they don’t “look Asian” either)

    Also to clarify, Aang and Zuko were based on the creator’s appearance, not their personality. Konietzko’s hair resembles Zuko and DiMartino’s hair.. er… well, you get the idea.

  • Johan G

    “Obviously an “Asian voice” is with a heavy accent, if you are to believe the public opinion. Just like an “Asian face” has slanted eyes… none of which fit Aang.”

    Have you actually met real Asians, or are you just familiar with racist caricatures?

    “My point is what exactly makes a character Asian? If it’s just because the creator said so, then again, why not have an Asian person voice the character if its so important to their character?”

    I guess they trusted their audience not to be racist. Boy, did they fail there, or what?

    “A lot of people I talked to who have never seen the show before, think Aang is just a typical white kid… only bald, since he has none of the physical features people associate with Asians (slanted eyes, apparently).”

    A lot of people you talked to have unexamined racial prejudices. So he doesn’t have stereotypical eyes, nor a stereotypical voice, and not the stereotypical skincolor. I guess that means he’s… not a sterotype!

    It really isn’t that difficult to understand.

    “Unless someone can name a physical feature that differs from Caucasians and Asians, one which Aang possesses that feature, I see little to complain about.”

    It says a lot about you that if you can’t find a feature that differs, you default to white.

    “The way it is now, he’s supposedly based on Tibet, yet he has a “white voice” and a “white appearance”. Avatar was whitewashed alright, except it was by the creators of the show, not Hollywood.”

    No, it was whitewashed by their audience, as least those who still haven’t owned up to their own stereotyping.

  • FC

    Just to throw some water in this frying pan. But I kind of expected this would happen. Even more so when they did the casting for the DragonBall movie.

  • John

    Has anyone heard any comments from the creators, Michael Dante DiMartino or Bryan Konietzko about the casting? I haven’t heard or read anything from either one.

  • The Obvious

    “As for the South Asian film director, no one cares. If Jon Favreau had been at the helm, no one would be writing petitions for an asian director.”

    You missed my point entirely.

    My point was, simply, that I doubt a South Asian filmmaker has a vested interest in “whitewashing” anything.

    Avatar is not coherent with any culture or ethnicity and while the casting is not diverse, it is hard to classify this as “whitewashing.” Avatar is a fictional world that makes no attempt to overtly articulate the ethnicity of the characters, so it is fully open to interpretation. That all the characters are being depicted by “white” actors is unfortunate, but not a clear example of “whitewashing”.

    I really don’t think fan anger is about “whitewashing” as much as it is about uninspired casting. Avatar presents the opportunity to have a diverse cast as a result of having light brown skinned characters and totally nebulous ethnicities and cultures in the source material. But it also presents the opportunity to have an all white cast, which, shocker, a corporate entity like Nickelodeon went with.

    If you want to argue the casting is a sign of “racism” in the entertainment industry as someone like Beverly Daniel Tatum would articulate it, than that is a reasonable point to make.

  • http://www.spiteyourface.com Tony Mines

    Some thoughts:

    *Avatar is (was) the most important ‘American’ action show since Batman The Animated Series, way back in 1991- yet it has almost no identity amongst the adult animation community and this may be its first mention ever on The Brew. What this tells us is that ‘the kids’ are down with the show, and it has a large dedicated fanbase – but is almost unknown/unrecognised outside of that fanbase (the kids). The film therefore has no expectant audience outside of the fanbase, who they have just been thoroughly and completely alienated with this move. Way to market, brainiacs!

    *The Director is Indian. That just convolutes things.

    *Many of the outraged parties are casually referring to Avatar as ‘anime’, the term generally understood to denote Japanese Animation. It is in fact an American show, produced by Nickelodeon, with a predominantly white American creative team, and animated entirely in Korea. This also convolutes things, as the lazy slapping of the ‘anime’ tag could be read as casual racism also.

    * The original characters are more Asian looking than are most Japanese character designs, having uniform dark hair and distinct Asian features etc. But at the same time they are undoubtedly westernised, emulating modern American youth culture in their speech patterns and physical expression. This convolutes things at least twice.

    *There is nothing in the hard work, cultural upbringing, or extensive commentary tracks of the creative team to suggest that they would ever consider this a genuinely good idea. But they will doubtless be obliged to stand by the decision publicly.

    *Hang on a minute. Asian or not, isn’t this largely a fighting movie? Shouldn’t the cast, by necessity, be made up of talented young martial arts actors – of which there is an abundance in Asia or in Asian communities?

    *What ethnicity are the stunt doubles going to be?

    *The girl playing Katara does kinda look like her American voice actress.

    *Avatar is a show with a strong inextricable link to its own animation process. It has no business being adapted to ‘live action’ (60% CG) anyway.

    *Anyone who thinks anime characters look white, has never seen a white person in cosplay.
    It’s not like Avatar really throws up any big casting problems anyway, in terms of anything Hollywood audiences aren’t already acclimatised to, so this really is just STUPID casting.

    Aang is the least Asian looking character in the show. They could have easily used some half-filipino kid for the lead and surrounded him with familiar Asian actors like Chiaki Kuriyama.

    I’m not saying that would be right. It wouldnt, it would be WRONG, but it would be wrong in a way that is entirely consistent with other popular films and only the fanbase would bat an eyelid. I mean, how many positive-discrimination movies have come out of Hollywood the past ten years, where they acclimatise us to an Asian star like Chow Yun Fat by teaming them up with some white guy? Loads. And they were all awful and they all made money and hardly anyone complained. As it is, they seem to have opened themselves up to criticism from camps that otherwise might not care/notice.

    Just stupid.

  • Altred Ego

    To Obvious:

    I can’t comment as to whether or not I missed your point, I wasn’t writing in response to what you had written. Not sure why you thought I was.
    My only point was that having a white or South Asian director would not affect fan response to the film’s dubious casting choices. That’s all. It is not required that every member of the cast and crew be Asian, only that the actors are representative of the culture that the source material is based on.

  • http://www.escapingthetrunk.net Madeline Ashby

    Thanks for linking the FPS post, and for your kind words regarding it. The whitewashing of Avatar makes me unspeakably angry for reasons explained better by you and other commenters here, and anytime you need me to further vent my frustrations, I’m here for you. Maybe there should be some sort of symposium? Can we somehow contact minority actors who worked on the show, to ask their opinion? How does Dante Basco feel about this? What about George Takei?

  • dave kovarik

    Why wasn’t a stink raised when Speed Racer was played by a white guy?

  • DJN

    Buck Timmly:

    An Asian voice is with a heavy accent? I’m Korean and I was born in America and I don’t speak with a heavy accent. I speak with an AMERICAN accent. Why does it matter if some of the characters were voiced by white actors? We don’t see them in the cartoon, they’re just there to bring the character to life through their voice. Going by your logic, since Mushu in “Mulan” was voiced by Eddie Murphy, the character (an oriental dragon) has to have come from Africa or America. Here’s another: since Trey Parker voices Twong Lu Kim in “South Park,” he must obviously be a Chinese immigrant with a hatred for Mongolians, right? Nancy Cartwright, a woman, voices the character Bart Simpson, an elementary school student. So, if there were to be a live action adaptation of “The Simpsons,” Bart would obviously be played by a woman. Oh, what a fine argument you presented there. Also, Zuko was voiced by Dante Basco, a Filipino-American. Zuko doesn’t LOOK Filipino, but he’s voiced by one because it’s just that–HIS VOICE.

    Not all Asians have “slanted eyes.” Aang only looks white to you and so many others because we’ve all been conditioned to associate animated Asians (even real life Asians) with the stereotypical “slanted eyes,” yellow skin, and accents. Hell, throw in some buckteeth as well. In American cartoons, the central characters are most always white and if an Asian happens to be in there, they’re portrayed in the way you’re so used to in order to separate the characters between races.

    In Japan, anime characters look almost the same way as the people in “Avatar,” but most of the time they are Japanese. A lot of people accuse them of wanting to be more Western due to how they portray themselves. Or if the series is based in America or some other country, the artistic style is the same because that’s how they draw the default people.

    Yes–THE DEFAULT PEOPLE. There is obviously a lot of people in “Avatar” based on different ethnic groups: Indians, Inuits, Tibetans, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc. These are the default people in this particular show, so that explains why they look “white” to you. HEAVEN FORBID AN ASIAN WITH BIG EYES BECAUSE IT ISN’T POSSIBLE, AM I RIGHT?

    Asians come in a variety of different skin tones, eye shapes, hair textures, etc. This is something a lot of people don’t seem to get. Some are really fair like snow, others are as tan as the characters Sokka and Katara. They’re different. Not one ethnic group looks exactly alike and even within their own groups there are a lot of differences. I, for one, lack a crease in my eyes while my mother have them naturally (another thing a lot of people are ignorant of). My own sister is much fairer than I am. It’s impossible for her to get a tan while I tan even with sunblock on. I grew up in Hawaii where almost EVERYONE is Asian and, trust me, there’s a lot of variety in how Asians look.

    A good indication of their race also comes through in the clothing, atmosphere, eating utensils, art, writing system, names, philosophies, etc. shown throughout the “Avatar” world. You really think it wouldn’t look wrong if you saw a film taking place in a world obviously modeled after Asia–where they wear the same clothing, write in various East Asian calligraphy, and even EAT WITH CHOPSTICKS–in which the main characters are white while the extras fit in perfectly with the world?

    Orientalism at its finest.

    And for anyone who uses the eye color argument: this is a fictional show in which eye color is used to signify citizenship. Also, blue and green eyes are not limited to those of European descent. Those eye colors can also be found in South Asia, West Asian, and North Africa. Yes, NORTH AFRICA.

  • Annette

    I would like to thank ANYONE who like myself found the very fact that they were even making this series into a live action film strange as all get out! I thought that I was one of the only ones who was getting upset over the fact that the characters themselves are perfectly fine the way they are! They have a face and a voice, why would anyone want to see someone else in their place? It’s like when they make a sequal with the same characters but different actors then they had for the first one. EVERYONE knows that those sequals all end up really bad!

    Personally as someone looking to be in the animation industry I think that it’s a crapy idea in and of itself be it with an all asian cast, or not!

    For the guy who asked why wasn’t this big of a stink raised over Speed Racer? I think that’s a totally fair question. One where once again I personally was infact against it, but again not because of the race of the actors but because they already have a voice, and should stay animated!

    Now I don’t really know Speed Racer very well, not what it really looked like, so I might be wrong in this, but to me the thing about Speed Racer is that a car is a car whether it’s here or in Japan. Car racing is the same everywhere else, pavement looks the same here as it does anywhere else, and “Car Racing” Culture is similar the whole world round isn’t it? The rules are the same, be the first to the finish line right?…But the environment of the world of avatar looks like Asia, the buildings, towns, tools, writing, it all looks and IS Asian and Inuit.

    This is also a point that people sometimes are missing, Avatar is an U.S. cartoon it ISN’T anime. It’s a U.S. Cartoon set in a very Asian Influenced world so why shouldn’t they have a very Asian influenced cast? There are Tons of Asian-American and Inuit/Native American actors that could play the part.

    Animation, I believe in part, was such a big thing in Japan because of the fact that way back when, they didn’t really have the diversity in actors to actually make many diverse live action shows set there films and stuff in places other then Japan. But with Animation anything is possible you can be ANYTHING…a different Race, a different Spieces…a Toaster…ANYTHING! America though HAS that diversity…so why not make good use of it and let the characters be of different nations, AS they are in the show!

    But as I have stated before and I’ll be saying it until the day this film hits the big screens! The characters already HAD a voice, and a face…it’s not like a comic book where everyones “voice” for the character, and their inflection is up to the mind of the reader….they are cartoons and HAVE a voice, and so automatically this movie was bound to be a strange concept to sell if you ask me!

  • mazuzu

    I am Asian-AMERICAN and I speak with an AMERICAN accent

    you retards who think all Asians speak like this… me rove you rong time… five dorrah suckee suckee… need to step out of your trailer and go discover how diverse america has become…

    geeze… i can’t believe there are still idiots who think this way

  • DJN

    Exactly. Thank you, mazuzu.

    We Asian-Americans are not perpetual foreigners like you all think. We’re American.

  • Buck Timmly

    My comment on the Asian voice and appearance issue was suppose to be satire. I apologize if that wasn’t apparent enough and it insulted anyone.

    “*Avatar is (was) the most important ‘American’ action show since Batman The Animated Series, way back in 1991-”

    Over-reacting a bit, there, don’t you think? I have favorite cartoons too, but I wouldn’t go that far with any of them. This movie isn’t going to be the pinnacle of human entertainment or anything. It’s a live-action cash in on a kids shows. It’s common these days since Hollywood has bankrupted its originality. Even if this movie gets whitewashed/crashes and burns at the box office/becomes a billion dollar hit, it wont really mean anything in the long run of anything, just to people who really want to see Hollywood crap all over another kids shows by turning it into live-action. Though considering how popular Alvin and the Chipmunks was, I guess that’s what people like these days.

    “Asians come in a variety of different skin tones, eye shapes, hair textures, etc. This is something a lot of people don’t seem to get.”

    This comment is what I was leaning towards. I guess it would be better to answer it with a question. Since Asians don’t necessarily need the stereotypical slanted eyes and thick accent, then I’m just confused why people are so upset that Aang isn’t played by a Asian. If they found an Asian kid who looked exactly like whoever the kid playing Aang is, except now he has Asian heritage, would it be okay now because he’s Asian? Would people still complain? The way I see it, there’s only two ways to go with this situation: heritage is more important or appearance is more important.

    Yes, Asians don’t all look a certain way, but it appears to me people complaining about the actors are assuming they do, otherwise why complain (unless it’s just the principal of the thing). Even though there’s variety in appearance in ethnicity, people DO base claims based on physical appearance. Look no further than our new president, who is labeled black by the majority of people in the US. Last I checked, his mother was white, and only his father is black, but he’s labeled entirely black. Why? All because of his physical features. He’s just as”white” as he is “black”, yet we automatically default to black (same goes for all children of biracial couples) due to appearance. So, while not all Asians may have slanted eyes, we sure as heck are going to base ethnicity based on that physical feature. Not that I’m saying that’s right, but that’s the way the world works.

    To me, I could care less who the actor playing a character is, because they’re just using their body to portray that character and nothing more. Likewise, a voice actor uses their voice to portray their character and nothing more, like its been said, so it’s no different at all. If Aang’s a bald headed kid with big eyes and white skin, then I say get a bald headed kid with big eyes and white skin to play him. He could be any ethnicity for all I care as long as he looked the part.

    Though I have to admit I find it ironic some people bring up the director’s Indian heritage as if it means something. That seems fairly presumptuous by basing claims based on his ethnicity.

  • Yep

    It’s one thing to argue that all the actors were cast purely on their acting ability But Jesse McCartney and the Disney twits? Give me a flipping break. The cast was whitewashed for purely aesthetic and racist reasons and it’s amazing how many people here are apologists for what is essentially yellowface.

  • L.H

    Wouldn’t it only be yellowface is they tried to make them look Asian? Like how in Daredevil Michael Duncan played a white guy, but they didn’t throw powder on him and pretend he’s white. I don’t recall many (if any at all) people called whiteface on that and cried racism. Double standards and all that such I suppose.

  • katara

    Everyone is wondering why the creators haven’t said anything on the casting and resulting fan outrage. It’s pretty damn obvious. They’re just as disgusted and disappointed but it would be bad business to make the situation worse. They’re damning the decision by their silence.

  • Akita75

    This racism is all too typical for hollywood – replace nonwhite characters in the original source material with white actors. The underlying message is that the US audience only wants to see white people in the main roles, anything else risks box office dollars. Pathetic.

  • Idiots.

    LOL, the white actor who is going to play Sokka said he’s going to get into his role by getting a tan. I bet if he was playing a black character he would say he has to go get his pitch pot. What a stupid kid.

    M. Night isn’t going to make a fuss. All his movies are whitewashes anyway.

  • Ananta

    For those who don’t know, there are plenty Asians who are able to speak English well (in this case, with American accent). Although I am not saying those Asians are from East Asia.

    I agree with most of you that characters from Avatar should be played by Asians or Inuit. I don’t think reasons are needed now since many of you have written many good and sensible reasons.

    My question is simple, if Asians role are played by the Whites, what role will Asians be playing?

  • whydothis!?

    Casting white people for the roles in the avatar just doesn’t make any sense at all. Why are they ruining the film? I would totally look forward to the movie if the casting was more realistic. The movie is going to suck no matter how good the writing is. How can anyone over look the casting? its a very important part!

  • http://spum-blog.blogspot.com J. Spumkin

    UPDATE FOR THE INSANE:

    To ease the relief for all of you: Jesse McCartney is no longer in the role of Prince Zuko. The role has been given to “Slumdog Millionaire” lead Dev Patei.

    And, I’ve decided to do a post on the subject…or at least I will.

  • Quidam

    Location: ‘ancient asia’ Who says that?
    How do we know it’s not ‘future earth’ — after the ‘asian peoples’ become the dominant ethnicity? Or that it’s ‘alternate earth’ where the ‘asian peoples’ became the dominant ethnicity? Why couldn’t there be white and non-white people living in a setting that is asian in origin?

    Amalia: sorry to hear that you are more concerned with being ‘asian-american’ than a citizen of the United States of America. Maybe you should ask some of the Canadians or the Mexicans how they feel about the USA monopolizing the term ‘Americans’…

    Also, I had the same problem growing up… when I saw all the characters from G.I. Joe parachuting out of airplanes or jumping out of burning tanks, I figured war was cool and no one really got hurt; when I saw Transformers change and leap off of cliffs, I didn’t understand why mom and dad got upset when I tried to turn the wheel while they were driving; when I saw Bruce Wayne with his ripped physique and Barbie with her waspy-waste and enormous breasts, I thought everyone was supposed to look like that and then — oh, no, wait… that must have been someone else because I think at some point I realized that THEY WERE CARTOONS.

    I’m sure I could dig up someone who watched the Disney movies of old and thought that all dark-haired women were evil, or that a prince rides in to rescue the helpless female… and we could go further back to books with misleading messages…

    at some point we need to stop blaming media and other people for the ‘bad messages’ they send out.

    I’m sure you are a nice person and all (you certainly do seem to put a lot of effort into your posts) but you’re starting to go over the top into epic proportions and the whole ‘racism’ thing.

    It’s fantasy. You can slice it eight ways to Sunday (and I’m sure there’s something racist, sexist, or historically offensive in that as well.)

    My only concern is that the movie give the same ‘feeling’ you get from the interplay between the characters, that the writers and actors make me care about them or I just won’t be interested.
    Just think of the first episode with Katara having a fit and waterbending behind her while Sokka looks on. Or Sokka’s haiku-rap scene. Or tension between Aang, Katara and Zuko. Or Toph’s constantly having to remind the others that she’s blind. I just don’t see how they’re going to get everything that happens in the first season into one movie (that’s not of LOTR-like in length where multiple potty breaks are required) and _still_ do any decent character development.

    I think this will definitely be a case where I will wish I had scene the movie first and then gone back and watched the cartoon.

  • Rubix Qoob

    I consider myself a culture sensitive person. Not overly PC like most of this country but not a bigoted idiot either. And although I COMPLETELY understand any Asian or Asian Americans taking offense to the casting, my anticipation for this film has not wavered at all. You gotta understand I was unfamiliar with the first season of avatar until about 2 years ago when I met my current fiance and she introduced me to Avatar. (Technically since her son watched it-but let’s be real she actually made HIM watch it..lol) I instantly fell in love with the art, story structure, the characters and an epic plot that made me worry about fictional characters. I truly believe it is a beautiful, educational and action packed series. Not many can pull that off. My point is (finally!) that even if this movie is butt ugly I own all three seasons and will treasure them and suggest them to anyone and nothing that comes from Hollywood is gonna diminish my love of the series. I wanna give M. Night a chance because all recent criticism aside, he is a great storyteller and he frequently gets the best out of child actors. I mean who was Haley Joel Osment before Sixth Sense? What about the kids in Signs? They were the funniest most realistic part of that movie! After I see a trailer I will be able to better gauge my trust in his direction. I’m not saying don’t be upset or support the movie because your grievances are very well founded and understandable. I just hope those on the fence have a chance to see a special film and I REALLY hope (half-expect) M. Night is in his zone to make that special film. In time maybe we can get Hollywood to be as progressive as it ALWAYS claims it is.

  • Zy

    If Lord of the Rings was made with an all Asian cast, what would the response be?

    Just reading the comments defending the casting, I think people already know what the answer is. The same people would be extremely uncomfortable with an ethnic Captain America. They know it. Double standards.

    The artistic interpretation argument is complete BS because it’s just an excuse to limit diversity. Why doesn’t this artistic interpretation manifest itself in more ethnic roles to reflect the realities? When reality comes in conflict with art, it seems more often than not, the art chooses white. Why is that?

    Asians are the new black. Blacks are still discriminated against, but no one dares do it as openly as before. So Hollywood found lower hanging fruit.

    If I see Camelot redone with an all-Asian cast wearing the whole Medieval costume set (armor, crowns, lances, etc.), then I’ll accept that this movie is just “artistic interpretation”.

    I also love that some people think that anime characters look white. It’s just a reflection of your own innate biases towards your own nationality. Don’t you find it at all strange that Japanese people would draw cartoons about white people?

  • down2earth210

    It is of the HIGHEST OFFENSE to me as a person of color AND and anime fan that Akira is going to starred by DiCaprio????

    You’ve got to be kidding me.

    I mean seriously.

    The flagship of Japanese anime is going to be whitewashed?

    Has anyone seen how POORLY Dragonball is doing in theaters? It’s because the anime community has rejected it entirely. ENTIRELY.

    This should be a warning to Hollywhitewash. Wow!

    Could you imagine the re-make or movie version of let’s say What’s Happening or The Cosby Show where Roj’s character is played by Hayden Christiansen? Or Theo played by that dude from Step Up? It would considered a high insult.

    I’m so offended I can barely type this message. It’s downright shocking. Outrageous. DiCaprio playing a character name Kaneda (pronounced kah-nae-dah, not kah-NAE-dah).

    I mean.. seriously. (shaking head in shock)

  • Alex

    If people wan’t to see Asian people cast as the main characters of anime made into live action then they should produce some anime with Asian looking main character!

    Even though Anime comes from Japan they portray most of the main characters with white skin, they don’t even have the typical Asian eye structure (ie narrower eyes and more slanted eyebrows). Avatar even comes from white culture and the characters speak English so it has an even stronger argument for choosing white actors

    Fair enought anime made into live action often uses japanese actors to display white looking characters because more asian people will watch it and probably for language reasons but don’t start telling us that we have to use Asian actors for non-Asian looking characters just because Avatar borrows from Asain culture.

    The pictures at the top of this page show Zuko and Azula with angry expressions, thus narrower eyes and more slanted eyebrows but that’s not how they look most of the time

    Aang clearly looks Caucasian
    Sokka and Katara look Indian
    Zuko’s eyes could be either Asain or Eastern European but clearly has white skin meaning that if you cast someone who wasn’t white it is always going to look slightly off

    Name one main character in Avatar who looks like a typical Japanese or Chinese person?

    Look at the Death Note movie or other live action movies you may have seen, it just looks weird having Asian actors playing white looking characters.

    If you still wan’t to argue that anime characters look japanese then look at Naruto or Ichigo from the two biggest animes in japan. Notice the blonde hair? Do Japanese people have naturally blonde hair?

  • Starshine

    Rafa: Just because Sokka has blue eyes does not indicate at all that he is caucasian. First of all there are incidences of blue eyes in every race, in real life and in fiction. Memoirs of a Geshia the main asian character has blue eyes its a big part of the plot. Also if the creators of Airbender wanted asian characters with blue eyes, green eyes, or purple eyes that’s their creative choice, and the character is still asian…wow…open your mind.

    Alex: They all look asian…what are you talking about? Aang doesn’t look white neither does zuko. besides they don’t have white skin, they have yellow tones as their base coloring, not pinky or peach colors…like most white people. My cousin looks like Aang and he’s sure not white. Just because the characters don’t fit your stereotypes of what asians should look like, doesn’t mean they are not meant to be asian…people look at me and can never guess what race I am…so I guess I must be in the wrong one just because I don’t fit a stereotype. Sorry we all don’t look the same.

    P.S. This movie is gonna suck.

  • NoniBerryJuice

    Jason, “fantasy” and “fictional” are NO excuse to rape and piss on the source material. Yes Avatar is a fantastic fictional world, but it owes its inspiration to Asian and Inuit cultures and that’s reflected in just about every aspect–especially the people. They are meant to be Asian-looking, NOT Asians exactly, but Asian-looking.

    Jesus H. Christ.

    I’ve said this before, but as a writer and artist, Hollywood has put the fear of movie adaptions into me. It makes me wonder what would happen to my fantasy worlds if I ever broke down and sold them to Hollywood… *shivers*

  • boog

    Just thought this would be of interest to many here who may not have seen this clip yet:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FsaReX4ej0

  • blueskye

    People have said this, and I will say it again because a lot of people seem to miss the point here.

    Katara, Sokka and Aang DO NOT LOOK ASIAN IN THE TELEVISION SERIES. Granted, Aang’s Air Nomad elders do look Asian, and so he may look that way when he is older.

    Katara and Sokka look like… they’re half black or something. So I find it funny that everyone is asking why they’re not Asian, when they should be wondering why they don’t have a dark skin colour.

    Jackson Rath-whatever, was not being racist in the least. He was telling the truth when he said he needed to get a tan, and you guys are taking it WAY OUT OF CONTEXT. I don’t personally like the guy, but only because he was in Twilight, and that movie is a disgrace.

    A lot of people have said that it’s really obvious and laid out clearly that the characters in Avatar are Asian. NO IT IS NOT. They didn’t say things like, “Hi, I’m Katara, my parents are Native Americans.”

    I know that the sure draws a lot from Asian mythology and culture, but it doesn’t mean they are Asian themselves. Why don’t you all complain to Anime companies who don’t make their characters look Asian AT ALL?

  • Jerome

    Wow, animation style just flies right through your head.

    People have gone over and over with comparisons with Lord of the Rings, a largely Medieval Europenan setting and how appropriate it was that most of the main cast were Caucasian. No one complained, everyone knew it fit. But noooo, when it comes to a setting borrowed largely from Ancient Asian/Inuit mythology/history, it’s suddenly improbable that these characters are probably Asian as well.

    As for the animation, are you kidding me? I guess these animators need to draw asians with their yellowish skin and chinky eyes to get their point across. No such thing as a ligh skinned wide eyed asian of course. No such thing as an Asian ‘American’ I’m guessing too.

    Sokka and Katara’s people were based on RL Inuits. Get it? K.

  • Chris

    I signed an online petition against this piece of garbage. Enough said.

  • sean

    hey chris whres is the online petition address i’d like to sign

  • Howard

    down2earth210 says: The flagship of Japanese anime is going to be whitewashed?

    Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t Japanese. The definition of Anime is disputed.
    —–
    Quotes from blueskye
    “Katara, Sokka and Aang DO NOT LOOK ASIAN IN THE TELEVISION SERIES.”

    I agree, I also think they don’t look much like any other ethnic group.

    “I know that the sure draws a lot from Asian mythology and culture, but it doesn’t mean they are Asian themselves.”

    True.

    “Why don’t you all complain to Anime companies who don’t make their characters look Asian AT ALL?”

    I don’t understand how this has to do with your previous points. The characters in Avatar don’t look Asian, the characters in Avatar aren’t necessarily Asian and you tell the people who want Asians to portray the characters in the movie to complain to Anime companies who don’t make their characters look Asian at all. Could anyone help me out here? This is all very confusing.

  • djjuice5

    I loved the original avatar series and had ( and still) have no intrest in seeing this movie. I origianally wasn’t going to comment on this since I felt my opinons were already stated on here but this is so ridiculous i couldn’t resist.

    I fully understand both sides of the arguement on race and diversity on this film. I personally do really care what color the actors are as long as they are good actors and were appropiately picked for their roles but with this movie that doesn’t look to be the case. What’s irks me is that these arguements and controversy could’ve been avoided seeing as this was a movie that had no business being live action to being with. I have to ask the guys at Nickelodeon/Paramount if it was really worth it shelling out tons of cash for expensive CG effects and high priced directors and actors who are not at all familiar with the series which they think will be a “big hit” when an all out, well done, full length animated movie with the original creators and experinced writers and animators would’ve been less costly with less hassle. I mean the movie is still a year off and look at the overwhelming negative reaction it already has, remind you of anything (DB Evolution).

    Nick/Paramount really dropped the ball on this one, so many lost opportunities than I care to count. They’ve pissed off the fans already familiar with the series which would’ve told their friends and those people turning around to tell their friends and so on creating the word of mouth factor which makes a film a blockbuster. If Paramount was thinking they were just going to automatically reel in the original fans of the series no matter how they made the movie, well, Fox thought the same thing with DB Evolution and look how that turned out. They pissed away the best chance they had to make a brillant animated film that could easily rival the best from Disney, Pixar or any studio. There’s no excuse for it at all considering the resources they have. Hell Dreamwrks could’ve singely handely revied 2D animation with this movie. Another brillant masterpiece ruined by hollywood and greedy, clueless exectuvies. i think this is a long enough reponse. my rant is done.

  • djjuice5

    on my last comment i meant to say “don’t” really care. my apologizes.

  • hunter

    There is nothing wrong with the casting if this movie. If you’ve actually watched the show none of them look Asian except for the air nomads. The show has Asian background. Its technically not even anime considering it was created and written by americans so I c no problems with the casting. I can’t wait for this movie.

  • hunter

    theres nothing wrong with the casting. if any of you have actually watched the show, none of the characters even look clos to asian except for the monks but thats it. the show is only based on asian culture. it was created and written by americans in america and is technically not even anime because of that. i like the cast chosen (especially noah ringer because hes a tank) and i am pumped and cant wait for this movie. i also cant wait to see the look the haters faces after this becomes one the best of films in 2010… period…

  • James

    All of you that stated that the characters don’t look asians should have your eyes and brain examined; you are either visually impaired and definitely illogical in your reasoning. God help you.

    It is like you show someone a dog, and they tell you all the reasons why the animal isn’t a dog. No matter how you argues about, not only is it an asian inspired world, but the context is “implied” that the characters look like asians (including inuits) from this earth.

    People argue about, how the eyes on the animation is round therefore caucasian or they speak with an american accent…etc. Seriously it does not take Einstein to figure out that is world is a fantasy world parallel of ancient east Asia.

    If the avatar creators wanted to create a world parallel to europe or anywhere that is not east asia, they would not go to all that extend to show all things that are asians including but not limited to chinese writing, costumes, tea drinking, martial arts, sword fighting, east asian manners such as bowing etc. The only non-asian things are the animals in avatar because they are created for the show. They even show oriental dragons, specifically east asian dragons. You can’t get any more clear than that. The animators are so good that I can look at the costumes of the four nations and tell you exactly where they got their inspirations from. For example the fire nations costumes look like Chinese costumes from the Ming dynasty. The earth kingdoms are a mixture between Qing dynasty, Tang dynasty and possible korean costumes. The women hairstyles are specifically from those periods too. I study costumes around the world, trust me, I know my stuff.

    If the animators wanted to create a world that has no connection to our world, then they would have created a world like Stars Wars, where it is not referred to any cultures we know at all.

    People sound like idiots saying things like, oh the background is asian but the characters are caucasian. I think the problem here is some of you love the show, love the characters and setting because it is “fantasy”. But when it comes to real life, you find it hard to accept that Asian people and cultures can be beautiful and interesting. For God sake, all the things you see on the Avatar, although it is a fantasy, pays homage to the thousand of years of the culture and civilization of East Asia. It is very insulting to billions of people around the world from east asia by stating what is so obvious to them.

  • Jae

    Seeing how this an adaption of the series, shouldn’t the actors resemble the ACTUAL characters from the series? Fair enough people want more asian actors, but since when is the Fire Nation made up of dark skinned indians? Wouldn’t Japanese or Chinese actors be better suited?
    I believe more asian actors should be in the film, but the right ones for the right characters. Wouldn’t Indian actors be better suited to the water benders?
    Seems like the casting directors haven’t even watched the show.

  • Hero

    Many people have argued that the cast should be asian. I agree because the setting is mostly asian, so the white cast is not going to blend in with the scene.
    Sokka and Katara may not look asian to most people’s sterio-types, but i have asian friends that got tans that never faded, thus, a darker skin tone. An Indian person can also fit for the casting of these two as well.
    Zuko should be asian because, the fire nation is obviously asian and he would not fit.
    Aang is a from the monks who look asian. it kinda makes sense if Aang were asian as well.
    Maybe it’s the fact that hollywood does not want Asians to be the star.
    True that Avatar is not drawn to look like Asians. Most manga/Anime are not. It attracts whites to read/watch more.

  • mick

    Why would hollywood not want Asians to be the star you backward fool what about Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Lucy Lui and countless other asian stars.

    Also Aang does not look asian he is as white as any white man!

    It is obvious why asians aren’t cast in the main roles because there isn’t the talent you foolish people. This isn’t some oriental craptastic epic it is English speaking and therefore needs English speaking actors just like the creators of the cartoon were English speaking and the voice actors were English speaking! Stupid morons believe that it is some racist conspiracy by hollywood well hello freaks hollywood is full of black and asian actors and directors just not the right ones for this movie!

    Why aren’t asian movies full of white people it must be because they are racist that must be it and they don’t want a white person to be a star!

  • Dan

    Sokka and Katara have blue eyes which means they are not asian. They are in fact eskimos and are mixed.

  • Nam Cu

    ignorant white people would consider anime and cartoon characters as asian or people of colour ONLY if they have an accent..and nothing else..

    cause iv notice that with north american cartoon characters they would stereotypically always give asians especially indian characters EVEN indian children (who was born in north america i might add)..have an accent..unless they are half white..also giving asians slanted or squinty eyes..which i HATE the most..if they have to start giving characters accents to make ignorant white people finally see that the characters ARENT white..then i think they should start doing it now..

    if apu from the simpsons didnt have an accent they wud probably call him white too..cause no matter how they look, what they wear, where they’re from, when they’re from, what they do, how they live, what they eat, what religion/beliefs they have..etc etc etc ignorant white people wudnt even once consider them to be anything but white..pretty much saying “what you can do..we can do better”

    white people will always feel superior..they wud think and make it theirs for some retarded reason..especially they would stupidly look at the size and colour of the eyes of how they are drawn..and automatically confirm that the characters are white..THEN they would start saying the colour of their skin is white..to add to their stupidity..

  • Adrian

    White men say we all look alike. The truth is, Asians are TOO DIVERSE looking to tell apart. Seriously, you idiots who say Asian cartoon characters don’t look asian should go to an Asian video store and rent every movie there and watch them. Maybe then your brain can comprehend that Asian appearance varies so much that you can’t put us into a stereotype. But I wouldn’t call you guys racists. Just very ignorant.

    I am Asian and live in Asia and have seen REAL AND TV asians all my life. You white assholes had probably only seen Jacky Chan and Jet Li. But if you and I were given a test to identify an Asian’s specific ethnic group through a bunch of pictures, we would both fail. Because there is REALLY no single distinguishing feature to tell us apart.

    From the same ethnicity, there are dark skin ones and white skin ones. Some have round eyes, some have slant eyes, while others have double eye lids. Some have long straight noses like caucasians. One of my Chinese classmate has NATURAL RED HAIR. And she is 100% chinese. How do you tell them apart? You can’t.

    BTW, I’m not a fan of avatar. It just pisses me off that with so many talented Asian actors all over the region, Hollywood can’t be bothered to look for one that looks like Ang or GOKU EVEN? For gawd’s sakes, you could just go to a shaolin temple and pick one the younger monks there. And I’ve seen tons of Chinese guys who look like Zuko. Geez Hollywood, do you really need to resort to caucasian actors? Maybe you guys are racist afterall ;)

  • critiquegirl7

    I was actually very surprised when I first saw the Avatar the Last air bender trailer last February. I grew up watching that show and I was quite upset.. even when I saw the Dragon Ball Z movie. Aside from that, I am also an Asian actress and I know a lot of great Asian actors.. and it is so hard to get into the entertainment industry especially if you are Asian. Casting calls usually indicates ethnicity and in these movies, instead of them giving it to deserving Asians, they gave it to white actors. I actually saw a part of the casting call in this movie and it was written in the casting call..”preferably Caucasians.” huh?

  • the asian guy

    I’m asian, from my point of view it’s not even a big deal to have white people to play a role. it’s just a movie. i believe that it doesnt even matter what kind of people play what role as long as the movie comes out good then we shouldnt hate at all let just enjoy it. be glad that somebody took there time and made it into a movie for us to watch.

  • a slightly darker crayon

    the funny thing is that all these backwoods comments used to justify whitewashing (e.g. “there’s nothing wrong with the casting because the cartoons don’t look like the racial stereotypes…”, “i could care less. the real issue is [insert pointless distraction issue here]” etc) are the same kinds of comments euro-descendants have been using for years to justify everything from the last mohican being protrayed white, to the last samurai being protrayed white, hell…all the way to egyptians being protrayed white…

    of course white people don’t overwhelmingly feel that there’s anything wrong with whitewashing any and everything they can. they aren’t the ones dealing with the downsides of doing it. 200+ years and you’d think minority groups would’ve realized it’s pointless to wait for white people to give them media that showcases minorities positively. there isn’t much precedent in this country to show they even have the capacity to do so (at least without injecting some magical white guy who miraculously facilitates the whole positive storyline).

    minorities fought and secured enough freedom to move in this country as we want. we have resources now, and it’s time to stop whining about what white people are and aren’t doing for us and do our own thing. for the love of God would some asian production studio PLEASE come along and remake this movie into something aside from the garden-variety grade d high school a/v project it currently is?

    in closing: i didn’t resurrect this topic. blame critiquegirl7

  • hereticrick

    Ok…so I’ve seen the movie…and I wish they would have cast better. I don’t care what race they cast from (although white water benders just looked silly- and seriously? Someone from TWILIGHT?! Ewwww. Rathbone was not good…no sir…not good at all.), but could you pick…oh…I dunno….GOOD actors?

    The best actors in the movie just happened to be the most non-white people in the cast. Although, they were also the oldest people in the cast, so that might be the real issue. In defense of the kid who played Aang…his acting was no worse than Radcliffe’s in the very first HP movie. He’s young…he’ll get better. Most child actors blow.

    Also…why were people earlier in this board claiming Jesse McCartney was Zuko?! Zuko was played by the guy from Slumdog Millionaire. I think he would have done a lot better if he’d been given some decent stuff to work with…

    Oh…and as a final note: oddly enough, the studio did add the one race that was completely missing from the cartoon: Monk Gyatso was played by a black guy!! (at least I’m assuming he’s black…he played Othello once…so I think that usually means, no matter what, you’re a black guy from now on ^^.)

  • Observer157

    Similar complaints about racebending were made about the 21 blackjack movie starring Kevin Spacey

    http://www.8asians.com/2008/04/01/the-mit-tech-movie-21-discriminatory-casting-unjustified/

    http://tech.mit.edu/V128/N15/21casting.html

  • http://lastairbander zeeshan ahmed

    This cartoon is so nice. I like it so much.

  • Sean Robert Meaney

    I love the Cartoon Series.

    Frankly they wrecked the film by 1. not going with Actors from these cultures, and 2. Not making six films to encompase all the events occuring in each of the three books.

  • http://www.crabzinabarrel.com Kam

    It’s been years and I thought I was over it but I’m not.
    It’s not fair that such an awesome series ended up such as crappy film! The writing, the casting, the direction and the overall plot was awful. I was so upset that I wasted sleep to attend a midnight showing. I’m upset that I tried to watch it without “fangirl goggles” at it still sucked. I’m just upset.

    Aang, Katara, and Sakka’s personalities for the film were completely written wrong! How can Sakka not be humorous at all? How could Aang be serious and sullen about being the Avatar when he’s just a child (I loved that they made him grow up in the cartoon!!)How come that really wanted to punch Katara the entire movie?

    The Last Airbender his needs a reboot,just like Hulk (2003) did. Cast the movie properly next time! Ugh!

  • Jessica

    I dont care, really. But if they want asian characters in movies – They should make anime characters look more asian. They look WHITE, not asian – And I would like a character that looks more like the character on screen than what it’s based on.

    I’ve seen black people play white roles. Quick, let’s go have a go at hollywood for blackwashing someone!