Are We Not Done With This BS Yet?

From all I hear, the new Avatar: the Last Airbender movie is doing to the original series what the infamous Wizard of Earthsea movie did to the books.

In general, I’m in favor of colorblind casting, but:

  1. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t actually colorblind casting, and,
  2. I don’t believe in using colorblind casting for movies based on canon in which characters’ races (or appearances in general) are clear. Think about it – do you think the casters of the Harry Potter movies just crossed their fingers and hoped that the actor best suited to play Ron would be a redhead? Of course not.

The creators of this movie took a world with, I understand, mostly Asian characters, and cast white people for all of the heroes and a person of color ONLY FOR THE VILLAIN. (Really?) This is a shame on several levels. From the previews, the movie screams, “generic blockbuster fantasy.” I love fantasy, and I have to say that a little diversity (um, accuracy) in the casting would, even aside from being the right thing to do, have made the movie stand out. People of color as heroes in fantasy are, unfortunately, quite rare.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this – or rather, you don’t need to hear me spout off again about whitewashing – but I refer you to the comic-strip response of Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese.

2 thoughts on “Are We Not Done With This BS Yet?

  • Um, actually, if you watch the show, there really aren’t any ethnicities associated with the characters themselves. The nations are loosely based on the Asian and Indian cultures, and the bending is based on different martial arts, but none of the characters look like any specific ethnicity. I guess the waterbenders all have blue eyes, but that doesn’t count. Also, from what I saw of the casting, all the Fire Nation people are Indian ethnicity, but since Iroh and Zuko become the major heros at the end of the show, I hope that means they will be showing them in a positive light. Also since the director himself is Indian.

    • I’ve heard that – and yeah, I haven’t seen the show, though it sounds cool enough that I might check it out – but I still call foul. If the nations are based on other cultures, why should the casting call go out of its way to specifically mention “Caucasian”? Heck, why should it do that anyway, unless the characters were specifically white? Plus, from what I hear, the extras are mostly people of color – even in the nations whose heroes were cast white.

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