Remember, the key is to not sound like a douche. You wanna come off better than this dude.
AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER - fans and race-respecting people, unite!
DISCLAIMER - If you are remaining neutral/not interested, dudes, that's all good and fine. This is not meant to be an attack on you. Ahaha quite the contrary! The following 'questions' have been real and true reactions to the casting of A:TLA and my reactions/responses, nothing else.
What's the deali-o?
EW released the casting of the upcoming Avatar movie, and the main cast of Asian-influenced/Inuit-influenced/PoC characters have all been slated as white actors.
So what, as long as they're good actors, right? Best actor for the part and all that.
Acting ability aside, no it is NOT RIGHT. 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. This is a fact, not fandom's wishful thinking. A FACT. Casting all-white actors to play roles that should go to fully capable Asian/PoC actors is insulting and discriminatory.
As for acting ability: I refuse - refuse - to believe that there are ZERO Asian and/or PoC and/or mixed-race actors to play these parts. It's a pathetic idea that only white kids were capable of acting and looking like all four main roles.
Finally - since when has Hollywood been concerned about Oscar-worthy performances from child actors in action/fantasy movies? The main Harry Potter kids definitely looked like the characters - but could they act? Not really. When did we collectively become so particular for superb child acting? Answer: Lame reason to defend whitewashing.
Well I am a fine thespian who only likes good actors, you're a big meanie for judging based on race alone/ This is Affirmative Action/political correctness/reverse racism at its worst!/ Everyone's always so mean to poor downtrodden white actors!
Most thespians can read, right? Then read this.
But kids wanna see white actors! They think the cartoon's all-white anyway! Won't someone PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
Tell that to the ginormous population of non-white kids who love the series. Yes, they count. Anyway, kids aren't idiots. If you make a movie and cast people of colour (POCs), they aren't gonna cry to mommy and say "WHO IS THAT?! I WANT THEM TO BE WHITE. NOW. I'M SCARED OF THIS THING ON THE SCREEN, MOMMY." Kids don't want to see anything - they need to see diversity and cultural interest. And as adults, that's our responsibility to ensure cultural respect. Not white-wash.
But that's just the movie-making business. Blame the execs. There's nothing we can do, whatev, meh, suck it up, I'm not surprised anymore, my name is Eeyore, etc
This has to be the lamest excuse EVER. I don't even know how I should address it, it's so stupid. If you want to remain sheeplike, defeated and complacent, fine. Go back into your cave. Stick to being a consumerist drone, I hear it's what Hollywood likes. Oh, and, excise your mind of box-office Asian-cast money-maker movies. *gasp* Is there really such a thing??
The show is American, so the parts should go to American actors!
Sure I agree, buddy! Wait. Wait. Oh my god, did you not realize that there are Asians and PoC who are also American? Here's another fact to blow your mind: Asian people can speak fluent English! Breathe, remain calm. I know it's a crazy idea at 'American' doe not equal 'white', but there it is.
But so-and-so character has pale skin, big eyes and light eyes! Those are Caucasian features! Therefore he could be white!
FACT ONE: Not all Asians have dark skin
FACT TWO: Not all Asians have small ickle tiny eyes
FACT THREE: Not all Asians have dark eyes
FACT FOUR: Many Asian children have giant melon eyes. BECAUSE THEY'RE CHILDREN.
FACT FIVE: Asian people have many many differing facial features too! Just like Caucasian facial features! Zowie! Zoinks! Zounds!
They are all dressed in blatantly Asian-style clothes and follow many Asian-influenced precepts. I don't know how many times I can say this. So just once, just this once just accept the possibility that a kid dressed in Tibetan monks clothing who subscribes to a Buddhist-type religion should therefore be Asian. Yes, pale skin, big eyes and all.
No, but Water Tribe have blue eyes, and Earth Kingdom have brown/green eyes. That's so much more a white trait than Asian, so they're white, right?
Not entirely true. Blue eyes do exist for non-whites. ZOINKS!
Regardless, Avatar is a cartoon influenced by Asian/Inuit/non-European concepts, but the races are fictional. The creators use eye colour to denote the fantasy races - blue for water, brown/green for earth, etc.
Okay, well see? The world is plainly a fantasy world with fantasy races that have no specific correspondence to any Earth race; so why not LET THERE BE WHITE?
BECAUSE WHITE IS NOT THE DEFAULT. FANTASY =/= WHITE.
(quoth tablesaw)- There's also the argument that because the series is set in a fantasy world, there isn't actually any intersection between race and skin color as it exists in our world (ergo, somehow, everyone should be white), an argument also used in the Earthsea adaptations.
Also - Marjorie Cohn, Executive VP of Nicklodeon herself has said that Avatar is an 'fantastical Asian world' (source). I don't think she means everything else is Asian-influenced...but the peoples are still white. Yeah. That makes sense.
(One more to add!)
OMG stop saying everyone should be Asian! It's a fantasy world, they shouldn't all be Asian! All-Asian casts are illogical!
....but an all-white cast is okay? Okay....
Please understand- most people aren't asking for ALL-AZN, they're asking for diversity. Just like the Avatar cartoon shows racial diversity - fictional races or no - a little casting diversity would be um. Correct.
Honestly, if you can't tell that Avatar:The Last Airbender is an Asian-based fantasy world (as opposed to say, a European-based fantasy world like Middle Earth?), I....I dunno what to say.
I think Toph could be played by a Latino girl, she's not necessarily Asian. Therefore you're somehow being crazy and Asian-obsessed.
Um...good for you? I'm not arguing about what PoC can possibly fit what character, I'm arguing about an all-white cast for non-white characters. Open your eyes - we're in agreement.
Why do people need to argue so hard against this racial representation uproar, that they have to start saying stuff like this? It's...amazingly horrible.
But they're voiced by white voice actors in the cartoon! So why are you all angry at the movie casting?
So...by this logic, I should be rabid that Apu Nahasapeetapetalan is voiced by Hank Azaria, or that the dragon-thing from Mulan is voiced by Eddie Murphy or that Bender is voiced by Joe DiMaggio? OH MY GOD.
SCAR FROM LION KING IS VOICE-ACTED BY JEREMY IRONS AKA...A HUMAN. GASP. THIS IS HORRIBLE. Despite us never seeing them during the cartoon, apparently voice actors must always be exactly whatever they're voice-acting! Because a cartoon and live-action are so very, very similar, yeah? Yeah.
But they look white!
Okay well, words aren't making a difference to you, so maybe images will?
Okay, how about this lesson in Cartoon Art 101.
No? Okay, how about this--
(quoth aang_aint_white): There's more to a character's ethnicity than the way their face is drawn. And just because a character design doesn't have exaggerated ethnic features doesn't mean they then "default" to white. That kind of thinking is exactly what this campaign is trying to fight against.
Clothes and names and culture and the setting they live in say as much about their ethnicity as the way their faces are drawn.
My PoC friend says/I'm PoC and I say it's okay, so
Via Appeal to Melanin This is an attack wherein a non-brown person attempts to negate the argument/complaint/insight of a brown person by claiming the non-brown opinion is...backed up by a black or brown or chinese or filipino or puerto rican etc friend who feels the same way.
Guess what - I have an opinion too! And it doesn't agree with yours, or your PoC friend! Whatta crazy concept that PoCs can have varying opinions on things!
It's just a movie, chill out.
I'm glad you think it's just a movie. Must be really nice to have such a life where you don't feel discrimination, and therefore cannot possibly conceive how it must feel to have something that clearly celebrates multiculturalism taken away from you. Great! Just don't tell me to 'chill out' because I'm angry. I can make my voice heard and I want to entreat others as well. So let us cute widdle PoCs make our cute little grr!fight and you can run along pretending racism is over, okay?
Yeah but so-and-so PoC was cast as white!character in some other movie; and I'm not all angry about that!
(quoth cereta) - Because, you know, trying to increase representation of a group that is underrepresented and whitewashing an entire cast are TOTALLY THE SAME THING.
I'm curious to know more. Are you the only person angry about this?
Why no! I have a link Roundup HERE - READ WHAT OTHERS SAY. And the list keeps growing, and this keeps me happy and proud.
Screw the Man! I'm interested and outraged! What can I do?
GLAD YOU ASKED!! As it so happens, I have a list.
Letter-writing campaigns may seem a little dated, but no other method compares to killing trees to get your point across. Online petitions never work and emails can be filtered and ignored. Letter-writing is tangible and, if we can get enough angry people writing enough letters, it can make a difference.
Read the lastest news on the letter-writing campaign. - This is the best place to start. Here you'll get information on who to write in Paramount as well as to the producers of The Last Airbender movie.
Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall
619 Arizona Avenue, Fl. 2
Santa Monica, California 90401
CONTACT THE MEDIA!
Avatar: Publicity Wanted! - email info on big online news blogs/sites you can send a news tip. SPREAD THE AWARENESS:
scifi.com (Fandom section): email@example.com
awn.com: Annemarie Moody(News Editor) firstname.lastname@example.org
24hrs.ca: email@example.com, Editor-in-Chief: firstname.lastname@example.org
metronews.ca: email@example.com (or toronto, montreal, calgary, halifax, etc)
FAIR's Media Contact List
Getting a big newsreporter (online, on tv or on paper) behind a cause can be its greatest route for publicity. Media helps people pay attention, listen and treat the issue as an important one.
-- Americans! Write a letter/contact the Media Action Network for Asian Americans. I think this is something they'd be VERY interested in knowing. I hope. Email and/or call them, and find out and then tell me!
Tips on Letter Writing
I'm stealing this wholesale from aang_aint_white, cuz they say it best--
1) Be respectful and professional in your tone. If you're rude they'll just ignore you.
2) Stay focused on the issue. Don't get into your feelings about the specific actors and their merits, don't offer suggestions for other actors. Just explain that you're offended they chose white actors to play Asian characters, that you expect them to change their policy, and that if they don't you will not support their film with your money.
3) If this impacts you personally -- because you're a parent, because you're Asian-American, because you're a minority actor or actress who has a hard time finding work -- feel free to add a few sentences about that, too.
4) Keep it brief. They're busy people who won't read your letter at all if it's too long.
5) Double-check your letter for spelling and typos.
Who Can Write Letters?
- Concerned parents
- Bored parents
- Adorably tearful children
- Savvy teenagers
- Fans of the animated series
- Fans of things other than the animated series
- Fans of having race representation in film
- Angry people
- Righteous people
- White people
- Black people
- 'Other' people (AKA '...and the rest')
- People who don't live in America
- People who do live in America
- Online nerds
- Geeks who like to be angry about things
- People who've never touched a computer in their lives
- Your RL and online friends
- That guy in school who crushes on you and will do anything you ask
Spread the word! Pass this link on. Tell everyone you know. Ask them to write letters and mail them in.
What To Say
- Focus on stating who you are. If you're a fan, say it. If not, SAY THAT AS WELL. It's the issue that's the concern, not a person's SokkaToph shiplove.
- Explain politely (as you would to a child) why this all-white cast is upsetting/offensive and discriminatory.
- Talk about the impact this has within your personal community and yourself (family/circle of friends, etc)
- Don't make threats! But use a firm tone.
- Read 'Tips on Letter Writing' (scroll up)
- Mail your letter and comment here to tell me that you have! I wish I could bribe people with promises of art or money, but what I CAN do is bribe you with money going elsewhere.
Okay, this is impromptu, but for every letter you send, I will donate $1 PER LETTER to MANAA - the Media Action Network for Asian Americans.
For a maximum donation of $100. And of course, I'll provide proof so you know I'm not a lying bastard.
- Tell your friends! Tell everyone you know!!! Our voices can only be heard if there are a lot of them yelling at once. So spread the word.