Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I don't even watch Avatar,

but this sounds like standard Hollywood procedure:

Airbending Racism in The Last Airbender
, at A Chatterbox.

Recently, an announcement came out regarding the casting for the “The Last Airbender” movie, directed by M. Night Shyamalan and based on the cartoon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender“. You can find the post with the announcement and pictures of the proposed actors here.

Now, even if you don’t know much about the show or were unaware that it was heavily influenced by a variety of Asian cultures, you could at least pick up on the fact that while the drawn pictures of the sister and brother pair, Katara and Sokka, show them as being brown skinned, the actors picked for them are very, very white.


M. Night, say it isn't so, by nojojojo at The Angry Black Woman.

. . . one of the things that hooked me about this show was that it was set in an all-Asian world. And it wasn’t fucked up. OK, let me clarify. You know how usually, when there’s an Asian character in an American TV show, he (or more frequently she) ends up as the martial arts master, the (white) hero’s submissive love interest, the dragon lady vamp, or the magical elderly person dishing out nonsensical proverbs and occasionally a can of whoopass? The thing is, all of these stereotypes are present in Avatar to some degree. But because the whole world is Asian, they’re lost in a sea of non-stereotypical, non-exoticized, perfectly normal human beings. How amazing is that? Not only that, but Avatar actually depicts different Asian ethnicities. Though this is a fantasy world, there are clear allusions to the Inuit, Koreans, Mongols, Tibetans, several flavors of southeast Asian, various Indians, and more. The Chinese- and Japanese-analogues of the story actually come in several varieties (Earth Kingdom and Fire Kingdom, Kyoshi warriors, etc.) . . .

. . . I’m sick of this. I know it happens all the goddamn time, but I’m sick of it. This persistent belief on Hollywood’s part that brown people “don’t sell” has to change. I would’ve expected better from M. Night, who is Asian himself, but as we all know, being a PoC doesn’t make one immune to white supremacist thinking, or stupidity . . .

I like "Leavin'" more the next person, but I couldn't get through an entire episode of Summerland. If Jesse McCartney wasn't compelling enough to keep my interest in a WB series (and I watched Young Americans . . . and Pepper Dennis), I don't think he has the talent to convince me that he is both Asian and a skilled martial artist. But since he fits the teen idol mold, Jesse (and others like him, winky wink) gets the part, regardless of his actual qualifications.



Peter said...

Yeah, after Dragonball Evolution and The Forbidden Kingdom does this surprise anyone? Kung Fu?

Even Street Fighter: The Legend (really?) of Chun-Li only technically gets it half-right.

If I remember correctly,
Air: Buddhist type generic Oriental-esque Asians.
Water: Inuit
Fire: Japanese/Mongol
Earth: China
Heart: hehe

Bianca Reagan said...

I'm not sure what all of that means, including "Dragonball Evolution and "Forbidden Kingdom", but it does not surprise me.

Peter said...

They changed the main character of the Dragonball movie to a white guy. And Forbidden Kingdom had Jet Li vs. Jackie Chan, but the main character is a young upstart white boy. Street Fighter has Chun-Li played by Kristin Kreuk. She's half white half Chinese. Not such a big thing I suppose, since it's halfway there.

The rest...I watched Avatar, suprisingly entertaining. That's what the different groups looked liked, or where influenced by, at least from what it looked like.

L. Clarke said...

G,day sometimes the esential character portrayals such as a strong evil character or at least chaotic are needed such as in Star Wars with Darth Vader or in Sword of Doom where the anti-hero is a martial arts expert are needed. With Avatar being the title I suppose an equally good superhero is also in order.Stereotyped or not. I have a sci-fi novel Doom Of The Shem.This novel is a science fiction story that uses a military theme to bring out a gritty futuristic war chronicle, it is easy to read. I have created a small mini environment and it grows on readers as the situation deepens. I think any person who likes science fiction writing and the whole alien species who clash will enjoy this book. It is an in depth view of war with many hand to tentacle fight scenes and various comical twists here and there through the plot which help to develop the characters and their personalities.