Is Airbender Casting Racist?

Dec 22, 2008 Full story: SCIFI 26

M. Night Shyamalan can't catch a break, even with something as seemingly innocuous as a live-action film based on the popular animated Nickelodeon television series Avatar: The Last Airbender .

Full Story
First Prev
of 2
Next Last
Disappointed

Minneapolis, MN

#1 Jan 18, 2009
I'm so disappointed by this casting. It just proves the people making this movie just want to make some $$$ and don't care at all about the actual ideas presented by the series. And ALL of those core ideas are borrowed from, or are based on, various Asian and Inuit cultures: The philosophy, the terminology, the underlying themes, the images, the mythology everything! Why is this so hard to understand? It just isn't right! It's actually ridiculous to ignore this.

Without a doubt they could find young, talented actors that come from Asian and Native American backgrounds. It's offensive and disappointing in the worst way that they cast ALL the main roles as Caucasians. I'm really disappointed in the studio and particularly in M. Night Shyamalan.

I don't know how the letter writing campaign will work but if it doesn't, they've made it easy:

Skip the movie and save your $10.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE

Cypress, CA

#2 Jan 28, 2009
white actors are better actors since they are to stupid to become doctors and lawyers and scientist and such so they focus on training in acting/lying.. professional legal fraud...white faces reflect more light visually in a visual medium and bring in more money and fans even among ethnic demographic. let the whiteys be the slave jesters to amuse the rest of the world since white people are a global numerical minority. Asian men are too good to be plain old entertainers.. let whitey entertain the asian man... hahahhahahahah dumb asians like koreans, and especially filipinos don't understand that cause their asian on the outside and as dumb as white folks on the inside only they aren't as talented.. hahahha.. you dumb fucks don't even know that most corporate execs at Paramount, Universal, Sony at the top levels are actually intelligent powerful and asian men who have decided to cast white actors so that asian philosophies and ideal will be accepted by dumb white populations hopefully curing the white race's tendency toward violence and destruction. with white faces like Jesse McCartney playing leads in asian shows it will be more palatable to to all races especially the most deviant race on earth the white race... remember all serial killers, sick twisted murderers such as Hitler and Stalin are all white!!! In recent history.. Chinese and Asian culture is the only continous civilization on the planet.. Chinese culture is embedded in peace, love and wisdom of which Avatar the Last Airbender is full of. It takes white faces to sell Asian products and philosophies so that the world will be saved...I know it sucks for Asians who are too dumb to study hard to become execs and want to be actors like dumb white kids..
Solon L Quinn

Cortland, NY

#3 Mar 21, 2009
This is a very simple case of "follow the money trail." M. Night Shyamalan is an extremely intelligent filmmaker who believes in creating films that address social injustice. His previous films contain a wonderful amount of peace promoting, thought provoking, material. If I had to take a guess, it would be that the studio heads presented him with an ultimatum; You can do the film with white actors, or not do it at all. Unfortunately this does not clear Mr. Shyamalan of any responsibility. The only choice that could possibly be worse is hiring white actors and making them up to appear Asian, ie black face for the Asian population. In either case this is a shameful display of hollywood racism, and though it is not surprising, it is heartbreaking. Imagine the parents of Asian children,(I'm adopted myself with German-Irish parents) sitting through the truly wonderful experience of the cartoon, Avatar series only to later have to explain to their ten year old son or daughter, why the characters who they've fallen in love with and who look like them have now changed race. Mr. Shyamalan, I know that from your previous works you are a person who believes in fighting the good fight. I would like to remind you of the words a wise man once said. Simply put, "Be the change you want to see."
HapAvenger

Pleasanton, CA

#4 Apr 13, 2009
Just like P.F. Chang's, this is appropriation at its worst.

Since: Jul 07

Dover, DE

#5 May 25, 2009
This movie is going to be like a badly written fan fiction on camera.... somebody save Avatar!
concerned

Hyattsville, MD

#6 Jun 29, 2009
It's a racist movie. I will be boycotting.

It's disgraceful to cast white actors instead of Asian actors.
blah

Youngstown, OH

#7 Jul 2, 2009
How would that be anything new?

White faced things sell, and the majority of the people shelling out the money are the socio-economically advantaged, and the majority in their ranks happen to be white.

Like Jaguar Man, the South American comic book protagonist who eventually would turn white whenever in half-man half-Jaguar hero-mode.

Formerly (although a stellar math & science egghead) i used to take no interest in history, but one of the turn on's for me in studying African history is that amount of anime i realise was African inspired, even the shadier sides, from their deep conceptual philosophies and deities to the mythical heroes (endowed with power over weather, nature, physics or whatnot) and actual history.

Photo and art:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...

http://i849.photobucket.com/albums/ab56/Night...

http://s849.photobucket.com/albums/ab56/Night...

cool no?

But i enjoy anime no matter the color of the characters, and i believe this isn't one of our ages to shine anyway (i happen to believe that today's West is the antithesis to yesterday's Km.t nwt, and if the Middle Kingdom mediterranean was anything to go by, it just wasn't yet Eurasia's time to shine).

Since: Oct 07

Boston, MA

#8 Jul 2, 2009
Sounds like another bomb by this director. White actors = $$$; the studio figures no one will see this film if it had all Asian actors in it and probably Jet Li and Jackie Chan are booked. Not my type of film so I have no desire to see it and I'll skip past it when it shows up on Starz in 2011.
geez

Calgary, Canada

#9 Jul 4, 2009
Actually your response is racist. Who cares? Movies trying to make money off of a certain market base? How many american movies are remade in Bollywood, China, and everywhere in the world with local talent that appeals to the local majority. It is the way it works. Come on!!! Good story telling always takes ideas from many sources and thats the way it should be.
Disappointed wrote:
I'm so disappointed by this casting. It just proves the people making this movie just want to make some $$$ and don't care at all about the actual ideas presented by the series. And ALL of those core ideas are borrowed from, or are based on, various Asian and Inuit cultures: The philosophy, the terminology, the underlying themes, the images, the mythology everything! Why is this so hard to understand? It just isn't right! It's actually ridiculous to ignore this.
Without a doubt they could find young, talented actors that come from Asian and Native American backgrounds. It's offensive and disappointing in the worst way that they cast ALL the main roles as Caucasians. I'm really disappointed in the studio and particularly in M. Night Shyamalan.
I don't know how the letter writing campaign will work but if it doesn't, they've made it easy:
Skip the movie and save your $10.
EdC

Edmonton, Canada

#10 Jul 9, 2009
geez wrote:
Actually your response is racist. Who cares? Movies trying to make money off of a certain market base? How many american movies are remade in Bollywood, China, and everywhere in the world with local talent that appeals to the local majority. It is the way it works. Come on!!! Good story telling always takes ideas from many sources and thats the way it should be.
<quoted text>
and actually you're response is ignorant and missing the fact that the racial makeup of North America is much more diverse then Bollywood, China or everywhere else in the world. Asian people are disproportionately represented in visual media and that is a fact. The other obvious point you are missing is that there are thousands of capable and visually more appropriate asian actors that could have been cast for this movie.
What I will agree with you on is that it is all about money and likely a completely asian cast would not appeal to North America.
Kurt

Sterling Heights, MI

#11 Jul 31, 2009
I think the more important issue is that the ideas of the series are represented with thought and care. Remember, none of the main voice actors for the television show were asian, and this is an American Anime. I see no reason why the cast needs to be Asian. If the film shows the same amount of respect to eastern culture that the animated series did, there's no reason why the ethnicities of the cast members should matter at all. The show is a great homage to Eastern culture and philosophy... It is anything but racist.
SLQ

Oneida, NY

#12 Aug 1, 2009
Kurt wrote:
I think the more important issue is that the ideas of the series are represented with thought and care. Remember, none of the main voice actors for the television show were asian, and this is an American Anime. I see no reason why the cast needs to be Asian. If the film shows the same amount of respect to eastern culture that the animated series did, there's no reason why the ethnicities of the cast members should matter at all. The show is a great homage to Eastern culture and philosophy... It is anything but racist.
Three words... Ruf - E - OOOOOOO
Tala

Pearland, TX

#14 Oct 4, 2009
I don't think it's racist. Just lazy and bad casting.

Plus Americans have trouble figuring out that japanese anime styled characters may have huge eyes, but that feature isn't exclusive or representative of just white people.

And this whole movie isn't going to resemble the series at all.

It's going to be a washed down generic kung fu fantasy with conveniently placed political corrected figures ala Sci Fi channel's Earthsea.
im just sad

Granite Bay, CA

#15 Oct 10, 2009
I wonder if their going to change the story line because of the horrible casting DELETE ZUKOS PONYTAIL THATS IT!thats all i will let you do
Huh

Wellesley, MA

#16 Oct 24, 2009
Wait, the avatar characters are supposed to be uniformly asian? I thought one of the nice things about art styles like that used in avatar are that they are kind of aracial. First of all, it's supposed to be a fictional universe with its own populations and ethnicities. There are no asia or europe in the avatar universe.
john fly

Hicksville, NY

#17 Dec 16, 2009
Look at the Architecture!
Look at the Costumes!
What about the TEA CERIMONIES!!!!

The show has NO EUROPEAN CULTURE whatsoever!
Whoever cast these kids needs to be beat.
By the way, Ang's figing in the trailer looks weak and awkward.

Seriously WTF?
mattman

Orem, UT

#20 Dec 30, 2009
As long as the four nations are different ethnicities and are consistent within themselves, I think its fine. If they made every one in the movie the same race, I think that would do much more damage than what M. Night is doing. I think y'all should give M. Night a break. Chances are, he has directed more movies than you. Let's give the guy the benefit of the doubt until we have seen it. Then we can cast judgment all we want :)
Mike

Chicago, IL

#21 Jan 1, 2010
LISTEN:

Yes, it's a disappointment to many (me included) that people of Asian descent weren't cast in the hero roles.

HOWEVER...Paramount doesn't owe you anything. They don't have any social responsibility to promote racial acceptance or whatever. They make a product, and you either buy it or your don't.

OF COURSE money is their main concern -- how else can they continue to make movies? If people don't want to see it because of the casting, then Paramount will get the message.

I can't stand the holier-than-thou types who accuse companies of not fulfilling some social or artistic responsibility. Yes, it's nice when movies hold themself to a high standard and stay accurate to the spirit of the source material. But again, they DON'T owe you anything.

If you want Asian heroes, don't see it, and make your own Airbender movie.
George

Washington, DC

#22 Feb 17, 2010
Indians adore white skin. Bollywood is increasingly using white actors, particularly females. Shyamlan is of Indian origin. Why are we surprised that he is using white actors?
George

Washington, DC

#23 Feb 17, 2010
Mike wrote:
LISTEN:
Yes, it's a disappointment to many (me included) that people of Asian descent weren't cast in the hero roles.
HOWEVER...Paramount doesn't owe you anything. They don't have any social responsibility to promote racial acceptance or whatever. They make a product, and you either buy it or your don't.
OF COURSE money is their main concern -- how else can they continue to make movies? If people don't want to see it because of the casting, then Paramount will get the message.
I can't stand the holier-than-thou types who accuse companies of not fulfilling some social or artistic responsibility. Yes, it's nice when movies hold themself to a high standard and stay accurate to the spirit of the source material. But again, they DON'T owe you anything.
If you want Asian heroes, don't see it, and make your own Airbender movie.
It will help if the stupid Asians in places such as Singapore boycott the movie..however, they wont, thus hurting the Asian cause.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker
First Prev
of 2
Next Last

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Children TV Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
Sexy Halloween costumes . . . for little girls? (Oct '08) Mon Cuminbaldhole 97
Actor and writer Don Harron dead at age 90 Jan 18 Charlie Farquharson 1
Canadian actor-writer Don Harron dies at age 90 Jan 18 Moosehead 1
Donna Douglas, aka Elly May Clampett, passes aw... Jan 2 squeezers 1
Lovable 'Saved by the Bell' Actor Arrested on W... Jan 2 Jaimie 6
Here's A Supercut Of All The Times The Hulk Got... Jan 1 Blue Zipper 1
Dustin Diamond Arrested in Wisconsin for Allege... Dec 28 Jogosdokizi 1
More from around the web