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.