Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Advice Wanted

So Sunday night, the day before I was going to mail out the pro petition against The Last Airbender casting, I got a message alerting me to this article. I'm sure most of you already know about this incredible twist in the Avatar casting story.

Now first of all, this is certainly a step in the right direction--something to be celebrated. Although it's an odd choice in light of the source material (the Fire Nation is mostly based around ancient Japanese culture in the show), it's a delight to have an actual -- and yes, talented -- minority playing the richest, most compelling character in the story. (In case you don't know, Zuko, the character Patel is playing, is not just a "bad guy" -- he's the most morally complex character and goes through an epic transformation in the course of the series.)

And then of course I couldn't help but wonder if all the internet outrage actually had an effect on Shyamalan's decision to cast Patel in place of McCarthy. He could have simply hired another white actor to replace him. The fact that he specifically chose an Asian when the original casting call was for a "Caucasian" (let's not forget, whoever is responsible for the casting specifically wanted a white actor in the beginning) seems to point to a deliberate and conscious sway in direction.

But here's where a right change of heart leads to further moral entanglements. Having Patel in the role of Zuko sends all kinds of ripples through the movie for further casting. Now all the secondary characters from the Fire Nation also have to be Indian ethnically because they're all related to Zuko. (I guess they don't have to be, but it certainly would be nonsensical at the very least to have his sister, mother, and father be of a different ethnicity.) This is both good and bad -- it means more roles for minorities and Indian Americans in particular, but it also means Zuko's father, the main villain of the story would be an evil ethnic dude going up against a pack of white heroes. AGAIN. You can't win.

I'm assuming Mr. Shyamalan (or whoever is responsible for the casting) gave Patel the role of Zuko to placate those us concerned with the unfortunate casting choices -- and I applaud him for that, whatever his reason for it may be -- but in a way, he's dug himself into a deeper hole because of the inevitable outcome I stated in the previous paragraph. Now it seems IMPERATIVE, even more than before ironically, that AT LEAST Aang, the central hero, be cast with an Asian actor if the movie wants to remain in any way faithful to the ethnically groundbreaking spirit of the show.

Okay, now, this is where things get a little conflicted for me. I read this other article the same day. In calling for extras of EVERY ethnic culture -- not just Asian -- it seems clear that Mr. Shyamalan is revamping the entire world of Avatar to the point where it no longer resembles the show. Apparently in the movie, each nation is going to be a fantastical mish mash of every ancient culture -- Asian, European, African, etc -- and not just an "Asian world." Now, in making this change, it creates the perfect excuse for the creators of the movie to cast whichever ethnicity they want for the heroes -- which of course is going to mean white. This is deplorable, of course, if that is indeed the reason they decided to make this change to the world of Avatar. But regardless, it also makes it so the central characters don't HAVE to be Asian, unlike if they had followed the template of the show. If the world of the movie was simply going to mirror that of the show and they had casted all white actors (as I originally thought they had done) then it's just yellowface and discriminatory, no two ways about it. But in the way in which they've changed the "world"...I have to wonder if this outcry/petition devolves into "fan entitlement" which is the LAST thing I want. I have no intention or desire to join the ranks of people who would boycott an X-Men movie because they made Wolverine too tall or something stupid like that, you know? I got involved in this because I believed there was a clear cut breach in ethics, not because I want a movie interpretation of a show I like to be a perfect replica.

Now of course, the counter argument that constantly runs though my head to my conflicted thoughts outlined in the previous paragraph is that it seems even WORSE to have an all white hero cast if the world is supposed to be even MORE diverse than the Avatar of the show. But at the same time, because of this change in the world of Avatar in the movie, the argument to try and FORCE them to recast seems much weaker. Granted, the change to the world itself seems anti-Asian, but as I said, I'm hoping that complaint doesn't simply fall into the "fan entitlement" category.

Having said all that, when it comes down to it, I still think this is a just cause due to this one simple reason: if they had casted the four heroes as Asian, Latino, Black, AS WELL as White, in this supposed multi-ethnic world, I don't think there would have been a single complaint even though the movie didn't stick to the Asian-centric nature of the show. In fact, I bet everyone would have thought that was pretty cool.

I know I wouldn't be complaining. (I wouldn't be happy of course since I love the world of the show, but I could tolerate it in that context.)


Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, particularly from those of you who support the letter writing campaign and the various petitions. Don't get me wrong, I'm still fully in support of this. But if we go on with the petition, I just want to make sure we're doing the right thing for the right reasons. I would love to have you guys, especially those pros who signed the petition, dispel some of my doubts and make me see things in an angle I haven't considered. Comments from trolls will simply be ignored so don't even bother.


thepeopleseason said...

I had the same reaction, perhaps even more apprehensive. If we envision the upcoming movie to be the first film in a multi-part story, then Zuko would be the primary antagonist of the story. As the only person of color in the main cast, Patel is in the unenviable position of being the "bad other" to a band of white heroes, especially to viewers who haven't seen anything of the cartoon.

The petitions and campaigns *must* continue, because the only thing worse than no people of color in a story is having only people of color be bad guys.


rizzol0219 said...

Hmmm! Since they have a South Asian person now as Zuko, I wonder who will be playing Guru Pathik? or what ethinicity? Mike Myers? Joke only!
Not sure if anyone saw this last interview with Jesse McCartney on MTV videos.

IMO, if judging on body posture and mannerisms, he seems uneasy and uncomfortable with the questions and his roll itself. He states that it is M Nights vision and it is what M Night wants. I’m not sure if I buy the whole scheduling issue. Maybe, just maybe he had a conscious and dropped out somehow, finding a loop hole out of his contract. Hypothetical of course!
Now using that fictional situation do you think M Night or the powers that be would actually come straight out to the public with that news? Or do you think the powers that be would fabricate something else for PR purposes?

The petitions and campaign, it should most definitely not stop and should be seen through.

ganxingba said...

I would agree with you that were Shyamalan to reshape the Avatar world, say by making the Water Tribe Scandanavian, the Earth Kingdom Chinese, the Air Nomads Tibetan and the Fire Nation Indian, that would sooth a lot of issues. However, I don’t think that has ever been the intended plan. There are a few things that point against this being the case:

1) They start shooting this March. That’s far too late for major script or world changes, and Jesse only got the boot a matter of days ago. In less than a month, they would have to retool a lot of things to make the Fire Nation more Indian and create this racial blending from what was an all white leading cast on Sunday.

2) Shyamalan has always stated he intended this to be true to the original show. Now, I don’t care if that’s the case, I actually am interested in the upcoming Akira adaptation that changes the setting and I love Richard Loncraine’s Richard III set in a World War II style totalitarian England, and certainly he’s pandering to fans when he says that. However, making such drastic changes to the world of Avatar after saying that is unlikely, I think. I’d like to think he’s not a complete liar.

I think in part the reason for this casting was to cause precisely the thoughts you are having to spread to everyone. Instead of this being a cut and dried matter, all of a sudden it can be dismissed with “Oh, those crazy fans will never be satisfied.” It was a great PR move. I mean, I am still glad it happened, but it just seems like one of those “There, isn’t this enough for you?” moments.

In the end, I think this campaign has to continue. The two East Asians in 21 didn’t make that all right, having Jackie Chan and Jet Li play sidekick the Great and Powerful White Boy didn’t take away the sour taste from Forbidden Kingdom. If they recast Aang, maybe I’ll ease off them a bit (even though that leaves the least white of the characters being played by white kids who “got a tan”), but for now I’m not letting them off the hook.

Anonymous said...

I was thrown off by this casting change too. I mean, casting Dev is definitely a step in the right direction...but it's not the right answer.

I always thought Zuko looked more Chinese/Japanese influenced than Indian, and Dev looks more suited to play the darker-skinned Sokka. I mean, the boy's even got Sokka's smile, for crying out loud. If anything, Dev's casting is causing more issues to pop up, and the main thing is exactly what you've stated, Derek.


Granted, Zuko is more of an anti-hero later on, but in the first book (which the first movie is based on) he's an antagonist. Also, you hit another point: if Zuko is Indian, then the entire Royal Family has to at least look like him, otherwise it's going to be very, VERY awkward on the screen. (And that's putting it nicely.)

This again brings the problem of Asians not being able to play anything other than sidekicks (which Suki is) and villians. Why does the sole token Asian character at this point (who isn't a bloody extra) have to be Zuko, the primary antagonist of Book 1? Why was Dev given THAT role, when he clearly fits Sokka better? Why has only Zuko been recasted, when Katara and Sokka are clearly darker-skinned and yet are STILL going to be portrayed with white actors?

If Paramount is claiming that the four nations are ethinically different, then why hasn't Aang or (and I mean OR) Katara and Sokka been recasted yet?

I believe that, for those who are protesting this casting, Paramount has thrown us "a bone". They gave us ONE token Asian actor in the main cast, and I bet they're expecting us to THANK THEM and be GRATEFUL for this change. But the problem hasn't been fixed. As long as Aang and Katara and Sokka are still being portrayed by white people, we can't stop campaigning because the problem is still there. Either Aang has to be recasted, or Katara AND Sokka have to be recasted with APPROPRIATE minroity actors.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten to add this in my previous post, but the fact that Dev was casted in Zuko (who, as I stated before, looks more Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese) gives the insulting message that Hollywood thinks that all Asians are the same. That, any Asian actor can play any Asian character despite the fact that Indians look NOTHING like Koreans, and whatnot.

That was a major peeve. Accepting this turn of events would be allowing the idea that all Asians look the same, when that is FAR from the truth,

Marissa said...

Aw, Derek--since when was wanting Asian Americans to get a shot at playing Asian characters before white actors get to simply "fan entitlement"? Don't let them tell you that. There is a lot more at stake than Wolverine's height.

The studios will say: "No matter what we do, the fans will still complain, they are impossible to please." I don't know about you, but yes, it really is impossible to get me excited or pleased about discrimination. We're not protesting because we are anal fans, or because we want a live action clone of the show. We're protesting because this cast hits a little too close to home, Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's style.

They aren't changing how tall the characters are, they'e changing the character's ethnic makeup, all while still appropriating Asian culture. I tried to delve deeper into this new situation in my blog post here, but here are some of my talking points.

1. 25% Less Yellowface is still Yellowface. We know this cast was NOT about making the Avatar world "more diverse." Initial casting announcements clearly presented a preference for Caucasian actors. They were not trying to be post-racial, despite what the supporters of the initial casting decision say. We know the show is deeply steeped in allusions to Asian culture. Even Nickelodeon advertised the show as such in 2005--using it's "fantastical Asian world" as a selling point. If they want to make it more post-racial, then good luck--concepts like Avatar, the four elements, the clothing, calligraphy, martial arts...the sheer amount of redesign they'd have to do in order to make it less Asian and more globalized looks pretty mindboggling.

The three primary protagonists--the HEROES--are still white actors playing Asian characters. This is still yellowface. If they were to mitigate the situation by making the characters white in this incarnation of the story, that's still whitewashing. Not much better.

2) They cast Patel as Zuko. Jackson Rathbone, who says he's going to get a TAN, is still Sokka.
Imagine a TANNED Rathbone dressed in an anorak and mukluks next to an ACTUALLY BROWN Patel.

Here's a photo of Sokka:

Here's a photo of Patel:

Patel is also an established comedic actor in the UK. So why is Patel playing Zuko? Could it be because the studio doesn't want to let go of Twilight's Rathbone?

3. Someone already mentioned that now there is an Asian American supporting actress and a British Indian villain. Yes, Zuko becomes a nuanced anti- hero later on. But right now, he's an antagonist.

He becomes a hero, then, by rejecting his brown daddy and his brown daddy's invading horde, after the white heroes teach him the error of his ways? This is going to be so awkward.

4) They attributed this casting change to something as trivial as a "scheduling conflict." They still haven't acknowledged the widespread outrage over their ridiculous casting practices and culturally insensitive language. (Why would they? It would be awkward to admit they're wrong. We have to push them to do so.)

They've also made it much harder for people to call this casting for what it still is: white actors playing Asian heroes in makeup. Or, if not, then it's the rewriting of Asian characters into white characters for...what's sake, exactly?

The cast is slightly more diverse now, but that doesn't make the condoning of yellowface as implied by these casting decisions any less wrong.

The cast still doesn't make sense. Like you said in your first post, kids are watching, and they are not being allowed to see heroes who look like them. Casting any number of white actors to play minority characters, when there are so many minority actors and a shortage of minority opportunities, is still discrimination.

Marissa said...

Forgot to add: If they're willing to give Dev Patel a chance now, why not give other Asian American and minority actors a chance?

Or does it really take an Oscar nomination to qualify you over a teennybopper pop singer?

Anonymous said...

i dont know if i like the idea (there at the end) of casting each character as a different prominent race
it should be a system where they decide who would best play the part, ignoring race except for where its required (when it plays an important role in the story).
if they had a character for each race, it would only prove that they arent ignoring race, and that, in my oppinion, is equally racist. its just like with colleges that need to meet a required amount of black students; they should just accept the students with the most potential.

JW Fordham said...

Naturally no one can't mention this in a letter but
I really don't like the sound of the new concept of a more diverse not 100% asian and inuit world.
In of its self it's an interesting idea, but i can't shake the feeling that they're only making us think that because it make s it harder to argue with there decisions.

DKK said...

JW - that's exactly what I'm getting at. Most of the comments here so far are simply arguments against the original supposition on which I'm already in agreement.

If one is secure in one's convictions, one shouldn't have any problems looking at the issue from the other point of view. I've looked there, and decided it's still unjust, if only in a slightly less black and white way.

Don't get me wrong, people, I stick by everything I said before, and I'm boycotting this movie if the casting stands no matter what justification Shyamalan or the other producers dream up for themselves. I just want to be sure everyone that's signed on is still in now that the conditions have changed a little bit. I don't want to shoehorn anyone.

Anonymous, no, that is not equally racist. Your theory is very simple minded and only applies on an even playing field. We're not there yet in this country. This has been explained ad nauseum by others in the comments section of my original essay and on other comment boards, so if you really want to try and understand, feel free take a look there.

Marissa said...

Along the lines of JW, can I posit that "more diversity" is also disturbing.

There are plenty of Medieval European-esque fantasy worlds where they don't put in 'diversity.' Now that they are faced with an Asian fantasy world, suddenly diversity will make the film more palatable?

It suggests the belief that the Asian fantasy world of Avatar cannot stand on its own. Is an Asian fantasy world not good enough?

jedifreac said...

Along the lines of JW, can I posit that "more diversity" is also disturbing.

There are plenty of Medieval European-esque fantasy worlds where they don't put in 'diversity.' Now that they are faced with an Asian fantasy world, suddenly diversity will make the film more palatable?

It suggests the belief that the Asian fantasy world of Avatar cannot stand on its own. Is an Asian fantasy world not good enough?

DKK said...

Marissa, of course not. You already know I'm completely in agreement with you.

I'm simply following the logic of Shyamalan's changes to the world-- IF that is indeed what Shyamalan is doing--and pointing out that even under these circumstance, it fails. Of course I don't like the changes. But it's already been done, so it seems pointless to wave the flag of an ethical ideal that's already been compromised. (Not for the cause itself, but for the purpose of this specific topic.)

I'm talking about what to do with spilled milk and you're telling me spilling milk is bad.

I already know spilling milk is bad.

Anyway, I hope we're not arguing. We're on the same team!

jason shiga said...

I know this is a little off topic but can you imagine how the little people community must have felt over the casting of Lord of the Rings? One of the themes of that movie was how it doesn't matter what size you are. But then the part goes to Elijah Wood and Peter Dinklage the greatest little person actor of his generation has to play one of Santa's elves that year.

Caterfree10 said...

I think this casting is just as much crap as the last one. I mean, I admire Patel as an actor, but I really don't see him as Zuko. If he had to be in the TLA cast, I would've cast him as Sokka. I mean, Patel even has Sokka's adorkable smile! I really have to wonder what the casting directors are smoking, ya know? XD

But on a more serious note, this recast just puts us back into the 1930s of Hollywood with actual POC as the villain and white actors in yellowface as the heroes. I would like to think that after seventy years, we'd have evolved past that by now, but I guess not. >_>

Even if this movie has any kind of redeeming features to it, I will at most pirate the movie because I will not support a movie that so blatantly disrespects both the original story and the myriad of real world cultures that inspired the world of Avatar. I honestly think that the Zutara finale rewrite fanproject will be more successful than this film if the current cast goes through. *goes off to write a follow-up letter*

Marissa said...

Sorry DDK, I know we're on the same team. Please don't take my comments as representative of the specific movement, either. Just a concerned citizen facepalming and pitching rhetoricals.

Although you're right...I don't have many answers for spilled milk. I guess we could boycott the spilled milk? (kidding)

Anonymous said...

The casting call for extras for this Saturday in Philly specifically states they are looking for "NEAR EASTERN, MIDDLE EASTERN, FAR EASTERN,
ASIAN, MEDITERRANEAN & LATINO Ethnic groups…" which is telling me that The Last Airbender's world is probably still primarily Asian-based, unless they got more than enough white and black people at the last casting call.

DKK said...

That's good to know. More fuel for the fire.

Marissa - And I really appreciate your comments. After all, assurances like yours is what I was looking for!

I just think it's important to acknowledge any gray areas there may be and dispel them so the creators of the movie realize we've thought deeply and thoroughly about this issue and don't simply dismiss us as idiot "fanboys."

DKK said...

Anyway, since everyone seems to be in agreement, it's petition time!

Marissa said...

Well, it looks like they're building their evil Fire Nation horde this weekend. The newest casting call is asking specifically for South Asians, or as they're calling it, "Asian Indians."

DKK said...


How can Shyamalan be so blind to this? It's seriously baffling.

Anonymous said...

I think this new development adds on to earlier speculations/rumors that Shyamalan himself wants to play the role of Iroh.


Anonymous said...

What would be the point of the show if it was a more diverse world? Mike and Bryan have stated in interviews they specifically did not want Euro-centric influences. Plus if they make it a diverse world then they didn't change the names. The names sure still sound Asian. The primary characters would still be "ethnic."
PLUS: I'm in agreement with the rest of the people here in that why does an Asian Fantasy world have to be made multi-ethnic but not Middle Earth. Very upsetting.

Debbie said...

I think casting Dev Patel is just as insulting as casting Jesse McCartney. Some fans actually support Patel, but they don't realize what hypocrites they are.

South Asians and East Asians (because Zuko and the Fire Nation are so obviously based on East Asians) are completely different. Some people don't seem to understand this. From their skin color to their language; they are not at all related.

South Asians are Caucasians, contrary to popular belief. They are Caucasoids while East Asians are Mongoloids. Caucasians/Caucasoids not only include those of European descent but West Asians, South Asians, and even North Africans.

Hindi, for example, is part of the Indo-European/Indo-Aryan language group. East Asians are more in the Altaic and Sino-Tibetan.

In the UK, South Asians are simply referred to as Asians ("Middle Easterners" in the US) while East Asians are Orientals (just "Asians" in the US). No one in their right mind group those two distinct races together. No one thinks of Iranians and Japanese people being related. NO ONE.

Just because South Asians and East Asians are found on the same continent does NOT mean they are in any way related.

It's only a step in the right direction (a very, very small step) simply because Dev Patel is a person of color. I think Jesse McCartney looked more like Zuko than Patel because of his bone structure. Not to mention now this film will be filled with not only yellowface and brownface, but tokenism.

Saving The World With Postage said...

I think that at this point, one of the biggest problems we're facing is the opacity of this production. No one's talking. No explanations (or apologies, of course) are being offered. No one's said, "Oh, you silly fans! This is a RE-IMAGINING in which ALL races can be involved (as extras)!" They're keeping quiet because it puts us in exactly this position -- doubting our assumptions, wondering at their plans, worrying we'll be made to look foolish.

Of course everyone has to make their own decisions about how they feel and what they want to do. But it seems clear that some nasty stuff is still going on inside this production, regardless of whatever surface changes they've made to the world. These kids will still be practicing Chinese martial arts. The story will still be centered around the concept of the Avatar cycle. It's impossible to tell what other cultural trappings will be maintained, but then, stripping that culture away means whitewashing the world as well as the characters, which is almost worse in a way.

Also, if the casting calls are any indication, at best we'll have a multi-ethnic world being saved by three white heroes and (ultimately) their noble dark-skinned friend who turns traitor on his own, misguided nation and learns how to be a better person through the influence of his pale allies.

Maybe a different kind of mess, but still a mess. And even if they try to make changes to the world to camouflage their awful casting policy, that decision ALONE is worth speaking out against.

Saving The World With Postage said...

Of course, you already know all of this -- it's just been a very frustrating week!

India said...

As this point has already been, excuse my repeating it. However, this turn of events, casting Dev as Zuko, makes this movie so reminiscent of Things Fall Apart. A son is at odds with his father who does some horrible and sketchy things. Then, enter stage right, the white missionaries (in our case, Aang, Katara, and Sokka) to come in with their ideas of "making the world a better place". In the process, they turn the son against the father, defeat the father through a psychological battle (what was Aang's removal of the Firelord's bending than a battle of wills and mind), which in turn leads to the destruction of an entire culture (or the changing of it. Yes, in this new version, some fans think that Dev was the right answer, but he only poses more problems. While it can be viewed as a move in the right direction, they cast him in the wrong role. Not just because he is a dark-skinned actor playing an East Asian, but because he is in the beginning a villain. So, now our WW cast is going up against the evil people of color to make the world a better place. It probably would not be a long stretch to compare it to English imperialism of India or the colonization of Africa and other parts of the world by European missionaries and governments. In making the world a better place, they merely showed their ignorance to other cultures, their greed, and their ability to destroy others' history and culture. This revamping of TLA is definitely a parallel to these events, even if on a much lessor scale.

Remember it was not what these missionaries said to the son that turned him, but they way they said it, and right now M. Night and Paramount are saying to your children in the form of one of their favorite shows, "You're ethnic. You're not good enough. The only way to be better is to turn your back on your culture." This is all very psychological to some people, and it might not be their intention to give this message, but it is definitely subconscious. There is absolutely still a reason to continue with this petition.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is a step in the right direction. I also agree that this is a terrible choice if it's to try and placate the fans. It's just as you (and many others) have said, it's an Asian vilian chasing the White heroes. Not progressive at all.

jstele said...

This is just pure tokenism, plain and simple. Let's cast a person of color so that we can show we're not racist. They looked for the easiest way out and took it.

Shymalan is not innocent as casting himself as Iroh has a ripple effect on the casting of other characters.

Whether they make it a multi-racial world, it is still cultural appropriation. Inuits should be played by Inuits. East Asians by East Asians.

Jesse Hamm said...

Just throwing some late support your way. I still think the casting is a problem, even with multi-ethnic parts. To use Gene's Black Panther analogy, making Wakanda multi-ethnic wouldn't justify making the Black Panther white (and would be weird, besides).

Also, "imperative" should be spelled with an "a"... I hope you spell-checked that letter!

bobnozal said...

Having pale actors play peoples modeled after Native cultures would be more palletable if white cultures hadn't waged a campaign of genocide against Native cultures. Appropriating the culture now in popular media after sending children to re education camps in an attempt to stifle Native culture and after waging a campaign of forced sterilization well into the 1970's. The problems in the Native community in America are at times almost incomprehensible and thanks to popular portrayals going back the the Last of the Mohicans where it became allright to pretend that Native cultures were evanescent, ephemeral, and of the past. Such a perception makes it almost impossible for a people to remain independent. It is not acceptable in 2009 for whites to appropriate inuit and other native cultures in film without evoking past depictions with shoe polish and makeup and mono sylabic racism. Perception is important and the medias complicity in spreading negative stereotypes of Asians and Native Americans needs to be acknowledged. There are very few big budget opportunities to do so. When a person of color is a villain and the white charachter is a hero it evokes images of the "mindless savage" and the warpath. The Fire Nation commits genocide against the Air Nation and attempts it against the other two nations, to see that become a campaign against whites also distances the film from the very real suffering inflicted against peoples of color and dimminishes it. Send that letter my friend. I sugguest faxing a copy to M. Night as well! If you would like his fax number I have it, contact me at

mazuzu said...

any update on the petition?

are you going to publish it somewhere?

i think some people are organizing a protest at paramount studios...

DKK said...

Hey mazuzu, I mailed it today.

But no, I'm not gonna print it as it's pretty much the same as what I already wrote.

Any links to a report on that protest at paramount?

Heather M. Glover said...

Is casting Dev an attempt to assuage people and the influx of angry letters and boycotts that Paramount and M. Knight have been receiving? I mean if it is, that is simply not the way to go and is definitely a slap in the face to Dev. He is certainly a great actor and deserves more than just being used as the one to help "settle the dust." Its like he's the token "black guy," except he's not black. I think that the whole thing about Jesse stepping down because of scheduling conflicts is complete jackassery. I think that Paramount or whoever does the casting simply said to themselves: "we need to find a way to shut these people up." So they kicked him aside and brought in someone who could sort of pass as asian. I mean, people can say that this whole situation isn't racist. They don't know any better. They don't know what its like to be considered a minority and none of this affects their sensibilities or ideals of what Hollywood should be. They sit there and "fall for everything" Hollywood spoon feeds them; but when the time comes for them "stand for something," they turn away and look at us like we're crazy. The truth lies my friends, and it has been doing so since as long as we can remember....

cj said...

I think it's just ridiculous that M. Night Shyamalan is directing this film in the first place and that casting director is just an idiot. He wanted a Caucasian for Zuko's role? I don't believe they even saw or even know the storyline behind Avatar. Not to bash M. Night too much, but I don't think he's a good director at all, I really don't see the hype behind him. His only good film was The Sixth Sense and everything after that was just terrible. Dev Patel is a much better choice for Zuko and a step in the right direction, but I think all of the chosen cast members thus far, including Dev are not suited for their roles. I think it's great giving the newcomer Noah Ringer a chance in the limelight, but he just doesn't scream Aang at me, either. I would've loved to see this movie directed by Ang Lee and with martial arts scenes directed by Yuen Woo-ping. Much more viewers beyond the adolescent-young adult age group would want to watch this film if Lee and Yuen were to work on this film. All the actors chosen for their roles are probably great actors: Dev was very talented in Slumdog and Jackson was, well an interesting character in Twilight, among many other films he has acted in, but I do think choosing Asian actors (more so East Asian) would have been a much better choice. Nevertheless, the decision has already been made and nothing more can really be done unfortunately.

Wow, I just saw who was rumored to be cast as Princess Yue and Suki... Honestly? You've got to be joking me. That and how will they manage to make the Fire Nation full of Indians when clearly they are meant to be Japanese... as Princess Yue and as Suki... Wow, Douglas Aibel, casting director and M. Night Shyamalan, what you two are thinking is beyond me.

Heather M. Glover said...

Hey Derek,
I'm still kind of enrage about this whole situation. I just watched the Avatar trailer yesterday. I sat at my computer, mouth agape and said to myself: "Are you serious?" Granted the visual effects look stunning, but that was just a trailer and what I'm really worried about is the overall story and the characters. I frequent Yahoo! Answers to offer what knowledge I have, and I just finished answering some guys question about Aang not being asian. Apparently this guy seems to think that Aang is in fact caucasian. There is still so much ignorance and intolerance in Hollywood and the world. You'd still be very hard pressed to find Asian actors in really successful and mainstream films. The same can be said for Black actors. Granted there are some major players, but on the whole, White America represents the media and how Hollywood is portrayed. I strongly feel, that because of this whole Avatar situation, it is up to our generation and the generations after us, to campaign for Minority Rights and Equality. At any rate I'm going to include a link to the question that I answered. Do me a favor and take a look at the picture the guy provided. Let me know what you think. Thanks D.Man