Be Pro-Active -
I debunk common defensive/dismissing/condescending/uninf
You had questions, I got answers.
How are Konietzko and DiMartino handling this? I mean, they respect Asian culture obviously.
All signs point to them not being happy at all with the casting. Which kinda makes me happy. It's sad when something so lovingly crafted by two obviously smart, savvy people is stripped to hell by the same corporate powers who initially gave them free rein in the animated series. Anyway.
And so what about M Night Shyamalan?
Perhaps not as much of a douchebag as originally thought. Chances are, he might have his hands tied as well due to Paramount Pictures insane compulsion to white-wash.
It makes me feel slightly better, given how passionate he was about the cultural aspect of the animated series. I mean, it really was a shock when I saw the cast, that it came from him, so. I can somewhat sympathize for the poor fool now.
WTF is Paramount Pictures's deal? What do they want?!
If anything, they might go the 'transplant the Avatar:TLA story/plot into a Western world' route. In which case, I would cease to care about this movie because it'll have absolutely nothing - nothing - to do with the original animation. If they want to Westernize everything about it - from setting, to mythology, to characters, then...well they're idiots, but. Meh.
Because I'm obsessing over this, I've accumulated some great links on the subject:
peri_peteia explains why this is offensive
LULZ WELL IT JUST HAPPENS TO BE A CULTURALLY, LINGUISTICALLY, AND SPIRITUALLY ASIAN CULTURE POPULATED ENTIRELY BY WHITE PEOPLE FLUENT IN CHINESE XD XD XD!vejiicakes has a great point of view that sums up many of my thoughts.
If the entire culture of the nations are broadly Asian or Inuit, shouldn't the burden of proof be on THEM to make a really good case for why on earth these people should be white? Why is the burden of proof on US to make the argument that the people in a broadly non-white culture should be, well, NON-WHITE?and by 'THEM' and 'US', she's referring to the studios. Not you. Unless you DO think all-white casting is a-okay. :)
tablesaw discusses the other arguments people may have for an all-white cast.
And when it comes to Western audiences interpreting the characters, there are people who see both the visual and the relative markings ("nobody is White/European"), people who see the visual markers ("Katara and Zuko aren't White/European . . . ) but not the relative markers (". . . but Aang is"), and people who see neither ("they're all White/European").jedifreac talks about ATLA cast requirements (very disturbing):
Honestly, we should have saw this coming. Remember when the casting sides came out and they read "Caucasian or other ethnicity"? I mean, the words "Other Ethnicity" speak for themselves. We are Others. Caucasian was already the stated preference months ago. We should have flipped out then--but I guess no one thought they would go so far as to make the principal cast (and, since the supporting cast is comprised of the characters' families) completely Caucasian. . Ooops.vagabondsal brings it all home
It says that even though Konietzko and DiMartino took pains to articulate themes of diversity and multiculturalism, all their work was for naught, because people don't really want to look at people who look like me. It says that every time somebody thinks of me as the other, they're right, because I am.misora proposes her own personal recast - DISCLAIMER: these are her personal choices, examples and ideas. Please don't persecute her for it just because you HAT0RZZ KREUK ZOMG SHE RUINED TEH CLEX.
cereta goes meta with the rant.
And then, of course, if your "reason" for conceptualizing a part as something other than "white, straight male" is "well, I really wanted to see an action movie with a Latina lead," well, you're making things political. As if there's anything not political about a television or movie screen filled with almost exclusively white faces and male leads.ryosato makes great artistic points on Why Avatar characters don't always look Asian
I personally think that you have to take into account that all of Avatar is clearly made based on Asian cultures of all kinds, and was made out of a love of those cultures - even down to mimicking Japanese animation, Chinese gung fu (kung-fu), and everything down to the writing, outfits, and everything!avatar_fans' comment thread: Why Aang isn't white - complete with a beautiful photo of the most Aang-looking real-life child I've ever seen. It's amazing. Best part - THE CHILD IS A GIRL. AHAHA EMBER ISLAND PLAYERS, HEY-YOOOOOOOOO.
ciderpress appeals with both emotion and cold hard facts:
During our early Christmas dinner this weekend, the oldest of the nephews, who is 13, brought up the subject of the incredibly white child actors that had been picked for the film version. The three of them were confused and disappointed but unable to articulate exactly why. Then the youngest, all of 7 years old, asked me whether this meant that he couldn't be Aang when he played Avatar with his friends from now on.bossymarmalade's gripe - if you think I'm 'hostile' and 'uppity', just read my sister's blog. Hooooo-wee, someone needs to put her in her place!
White people are not automatically the best actors for the parts. There's this assumption that white people can play anything (with a good enough tan or tape to make their eyes slanty or putty to make their noses hooked) and it should be okay. Whereas PoC...do not get this privilege.
Some non-LJ blogs and links -
FACEBOOK!! Join up at Save the Avatar: The Last Airbender Movie from an All-White Cast - I hear this facebook thing is popular with the kids these days.
YOU TUBE!! If you don't care to read or look, why not listen to the issue and why it must change? This is a really amazing speech.
The Angry Black Woman - M Night! Say it Isn't So
I’m holding out one hope — that this is some kind of messed-up viral marketing effort, maybe using reverse psychology to get people all riled up about the film so they’ll blog about it, etc.angry asian man - The White Cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender
Besides, it's not like Asians are lacking opportunities in Hollywood. It's not like we want those leading roles, right? There will always be work playing Chinese delivery boys, liquor store clerks, nail salon workers and Asian gangster thugs number 1 through 6.Seeking Avalon - All the World's White, the Rest of Us Just Live in It
I hate the fact that two very white guys, went out of their way to create a non-white, non-Eurocentric fantasy world and apparently for quite a few people, they failed in that task.
A GREAT Link Roundup-
Lemon Water - Avatar the Last Airbender's Friky Diky Cast
Don’t just take advantage of all the richness their cultures have, and shove the actual people in the background; that’s called cultural reappropiation.
- And of course aang_aint_white - Letter writing might get us somewhere! Let your voice be heard!
On the personal side, thanks to everyone who's given me support in this. I know I've been focussing on the anger and rage and incompetence of studios as well as LJ comments, but. If it wasn't for the original outrage exhibited by comments to my initial post, I wouldn't have had the fuel to push this far into the issue and attempt a proactive stance.
- Thanks akiko for the further external blog links!
- Thanks star_maple for hunting down more names from Paramount!
As always, my flist is made of awesome. I don't know how you guys do it, but thank you!
Also - my 8 days meme is on hiatus. YEAH LOLZ I'M EMO.