I'm a 30-something work-at-home mom. I divide my time between working as a freelance writer/editor, taking care of my husband and kids, and various fannish pursuits.
In my past life, I was a writer, editor, PR flunky, administrative assistant, and archaeologist. (No, not at the same time.)
Who would you cast to play, for example, Katara of the Southern Water Tribe? Why, of course it would be the extremely white and non-native Nicola Peltz, right?
Not if you're a fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the amazing American-based cartoon that showed fans a fantasy world that, for once, wasn't based on European mythology. No, Avatar fandom has erupted in anger since Entertainment Weekly's website ran a December 9 article listing the apparent picks for the live-action movie, The Last Airbender.
In the past few days, rumblings have been heard in comments and postings around the Internet, as fans who reveled in the beauty of the Avatar world reeled at the news that their favorite characters might be portrayed by an all-white cast (partially picked at a casting call in . . . Texas, that noted hub of Asian and Inuit people).
"Acting ability aside, no it is NOT RIGHT," argues Glockgal. "The Avatar animated series is mired with and 100% composed of Asian influences. The world, the cultures, the people, the costumes, the script, the belief systems, the references, the mythology-- everything is Asian-or-Inuit based. Casting all-white actors to play roles that should go to fully capable Asian/PoC actors is insulting and discriminatory."
For a cartoon that began with the news of near-total genocide against the title character's entire culture, an all-white cast is a pretty low blow. And rather misses the point of the cartoon.
As Vagabond_sal says, "[The creators] made a conscious effort, a committed effort, a noble effort. They did their research. They did the leg-work. They hired historical consultants to help them fashion one of the most nuanced, challenging universes in contemporary speculative fiction. They hired martial arts masters to work with their animators. . . . They researched architecture and cuisine.
And over on a post at /film, commenter Carolyn says "The characters in the cartoon are clearly of an ASIAN decent. . . . The fact that a blond kid is playing Prince Zuko WILL ruin the Avatar franchise. Nobody wants to see a bunch of dull white kids pretending to have deep cultural roots. I am so scared to see M. Night kill my favorite show!"
Angry Black Woman speaks for many fans, saying, "[I]f this is really the cast they’re planning to go with, I will definitely be boycotting this movie, and urging everyone I know to do the same."
It's safe to say that fandom isn't going to shut up or go away when it comes to this issue, so it should be interesting to see if The Powers That Be even notice the brouhaha.
If you want to join the letter-writing campaign and make your voice heard, head on over to Aang Ain't White and Glockgal's LJ post for information on who to write to and suggested talking points. There's also a Facebook group, which can be found here.
Many fans have commented on the irony of non-white director M. Night Shyamalan--who apparently discovered Avatar because his daughter wanted to be Katara for Halloween--choosing white actors. What can we say, except...Hollywood strikes again.
Commenter Izzybelbooks at Deadbrowalking nails this issue dead on with perfect sarcasm: "I'm sure it's just because there are no good Asian actors out there. Right? Really. Honest. Not one Asian actor to be found in all of Hollywood. And certainly none anywhere else in the world. Besides, if they cast it with real Asians, American audiences wouldn't go see the movie. You know, like how we didn't go see Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or any of those other Asian fantasy/adventure movies."
Here's hoping that maybe this once, Hollywood will come to its senses, and The Last Airbender will feature actors who look like the characters they portray. Hey, it could happen, right? Right?
Spread The Word
- Movie Review - Ghost Rider: The Spirit Of Vengeance (2012)
- Movie Review (counter) - The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader (2010)
- Video Game Review - Ghostbusters: The Video Game
- Calling all Browncoats!
- Movie Review: Gran Torino (2008)
- Review - Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Southern Raiders"
- Review - Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Boiling Rock" Parts I & II
- Review - Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Firebending Masters"
- Review - Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Western Air Temple"
- Review - Avatar: The Last Airbender - "The Day of Black Sun" Parts I & II
- Picspam showing the people, architecture, writing, and landscape
- Angry Asian Man's take
- Tablesaw has something to say too, and a lot of interesting comments
- Pajiba is not impressed
- IMDB listing for the movie--check out the message boards at the bottom of the page
- The Avatar Wiki
- Ciderpress on Why This Matters