If you don’t know about the controversy surrounding The Last Airbender, I am here to inform you. Firstly I must say that I strongly encourage you to boycott this movie! Do not waste your precious hard-earned money on movie tickets if you are in support of diversity in media. I’ll also add that you please don’t even bother watching a pirated version of this movie, if you are interested in Avatar: The Last Airbender, please watch the cartoon series.
For background information, Avatar: The Last Airbender is a cartoon series heavily based on Asian and Inuit culture. The poster above pretty much says it all, the creators of the cartoon are American however they chose to set the series in a world that was heavily inspired by Asian and Inuit culture. Now M. Night Shyamalan has decided to bring this cartoon to life with a movie that basically has all white actors in lead even though the characters these actors are portraying are certainly not white. Of course, it is no coincidence that the villain happens to be Indian. These pictures from Racialicious illustrate the point.
The only thing the actors have in common with the characters are the eyes except in Zuko’s case…
I will admit that I don’t watch the cartoon series, I caught a few episodes on television while I was at my friends house but never got into it (I don’t own a tv). Despite this I’m sick and tired of the whitewashing of characters of colour. I’ve mentioned that Xena the warrior princess of the television series was based on Queen Amina of Zaria, who needless to say was African. And then there was the Dragonball Z movie where the Monkey King became a Caucasian. This is the Monkey King we’re talking about here. Goku for heavens sake!! Excuse while I shed tears in misery ;___;
Am I the only person who gets tired seeing mostly white people everywhere in movies? And when there are minorities, they are usually heavily stereotyped or caricatured. I made a conscious decision to diversify the movies I watch last year. I just wish movies were more diverse because I believe it really will not hurt anybody. If I had been exposed to diverse media as a child, I would never have spent the early years of my life writing books where my main characters were always blond with blue eyes. It hurts diversity when characters that are clearly people of colour are blatantly whitewashed. If the casting for the movie had remained true to the cartoon I would have bought it. However this is just a huge disappointment.
Does Hollywood not know that these movies are consumed all over the world? I find it difficult to believe that it doesn’t. Will it kill them to have people of colour starring in this movie? I think not. I don’t buy the argument that white actors help sell movies. That’s just a big lie. How does that explain the success of Bollywood or Korean dramas and movies such as Oldboy and Hong Kong movies such as Infernal Affairs. I know Hollywood has remakes of some of these movies, for those who don’t know The Departed was based on Infernal Affairs and I encourage you to watch the original, it is better by far (my unbiased opinion, I watched The Departed before I watched Infernal Affairs and I like both of them but the latter is better).
I have actually heard people make such comments as ‘Maybe there were no Asian-American actors interested in the movie’. I’m calling BS to that. Please let’s be real, Hollywood is racist plain and simple, it has a long history of casting white actors in obviously Asian roles (the Kung Fu tv series anyone?). Are these people trying to suggest that there are NO Asian-American or Inuit actors looking for work? And I’ll say that the people in charge of casting this movie know exactly what they are doing. Why are the main characters white while the villain is Asian? What is up Hollywood?
I’m sorry if this post doesn’t make much sense, I’m just tired of being disappointed by the lack of diversity on the big screen. I sincerely hope this movie flops. It certainly will not be getting any of my money. To learn more about the whitewashing of Avatar, please check out the following links:
The White Cast of Avatar:The Last Airbender
Avatar: Get a Tan, Become Asian
Saving the World With Postage
Avatar: The Last Airbender Culture Comparison
M. Night, say it isn’t so!