Monday, March 8, 2010

Race & The Last Airbender

I'm definitely anxious to see it. I wish they would've went with an Asian cast. Avatar - The Last Airbender, the cartoon definitely gave the impression that all of the characters were of Asian descent. This reminds me of what happened with the movie 21, where Hollywood basically whitewashed the cast.

You see, in real life, the blackjack team was a group mostly made up of Asian American students. This was actually advantageous to their strategy, as it happens, because Asian dudes winning big money at the casinos apparently aren't quite as conspicuous as white dudes who win big at the casinos. That's just the way it is. Anyway. As we all know, Hollywood studios seem to have a great of resistance to creating interesting, fully-fleshed, three-dimensional roles for Asian American actors. They seem to think we can't carry a movie, and more often than not, will instead create roles and stories for pretty white people instead. I know this, you know this, we all know this. Hell, they know this.

Case in point, 21. Except here, we actually have a true story that involved real living, breathing Asian Americans, who have been magically switched out on celluloid into—you guessed it—pretty white people. Namely, Kate Bosworth and Jim Sturgess. This has pretty much been the plan since the beginning, and now, the movie finally hits movie screens this week. Business as usual. That's racist! -

Now, the 21 whitewashing was a bigger deal since that was an actual true story. But, this one upsets me more because, truth be told . . . I actually want to see this movie. Let's be honest, did you or anyone you know see 21 in theaters or on television?  The Last Airbender is dope cartoon and story in general.

"Avatar, the Last Airbender" for those people who have no idea what it is. 1) It's the greatest, most ambitious animated action adventure TV series ever hatched in the U.S. A cartoon series for kids in which one epic story actually spans 3 entire seasons. A kid's show in which the characters actually grow and change and evolve! A cartoon which actually respects a kid's intelligence and vast imagination. Imagine that! 2) It's wholly and inarguably built around Asian (and Inuit) culture. Everything from to the costume designs, to the written language, to the landscapes, to martial arts, to philosophy, to spirituality, to eating utensils!—it's all an evocative, but thinly veiled, re-imagining of ancient Asia. (In one episode, a region is shown where everyone is garbed in Korean hanboks—traditional Korean clothing—the design of which wasn't even altered at all.) It would take a willful disregard of the show's intentions and origins to think this wouldn't extend to the race of the characters as well. You certainly don't see any blonde people running around in "Avatar." (I'm not saying that would have necessarily been a bad thing, I'm just stating the facts of the show and the world in which it is set.) -

I guess another thing that makes it worse than 21 is the fact that it's directed by an Asian man, M. Night Shyamalan.

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