Thursday, April 2, 2009

Racism = alive and well

(image by the talented Gene Yang)

"This past Monday, on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration, I discovered that the casting of the four leading characters for the upcoming live-action movie, "The Last Airbender" (based on the TV show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”) had gone entirely to white actors. I want—no, need—to say something about this." - Derek Kim, New Day in Politics, Same Old Racist World on the Silver Screen

"intentionally or not, they are adding another chapter to Hollywood’s long, sordid history of Yellowface. By giving white actors roles that are so obviously Asian - and by stating from the get-go their preference for Caucasians - they tell Asian-Americans that who we are and how we look make us inherently inadequate for American audiences, even in a movie that celebrates our culture. Like the schoolboy who pulls up the corners of his eyes at his "Oriental" classmate, they highlight our otherness." - Gene Luen Yang, The Last Airbender Casting Controversy

""What frustrates us most is that you had this amazing opportunity -- you've got a nation of fans who love this quintessentially Asian story," says Kim. "This could have broken down every barrier in the business, proving you can have an all-Asian cast and score three blockbuster successes. Instead, we just get three more chances to cringe."" - Jeff Yang, Bent Out of Shape

To get involved or read more about the organizing going on around this issue, visit Saving the World with Postage or, where the letter-writing and protest campaigns are centered.

1 comment:

  1. I never actually thought about this too hard until reading your thing. I know they did this for "21" as well.

    I don't feel like this is something we as Asians typically care about too much though - I notice that our families typically discourage entertainment careers (as well as political careers, or anything less stable), though this may just be part of the attitude of immigrants to the US. Either way, it's true that there's an issue, but most of the people whom it should be an issue to don't seem to care too much.

    Whichever the case, I seriously doubt a white Airbending avatar would be taken seriously (Chuck Norris was probably the last guy who could have pulled something like this off =P)