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Link: L.A. Times addresses "racebending" in The Last Airbender and Prince of Persia - A Sorta Fairytale
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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sat, May. 22nd, 2010 11:35 pm
Link: L.A. Times addresses "racebending" in The Last Airbender and Prince of Persia

It's been a while since I've talked about Paramount Pictures shameful casting of The Last Airbender, but make no mistake: I'm just as angry as ever that characters of color are to be played by white actors in a film based on a story that I love. While it's certainly too late to save The Last Airbender from the mire of racefail, it's still not too late to raise awareness of the larger issues at work here.

I'm pleased to say that a major newspaper has now picked up the story of the protest, and I think the article does a very good job of explaining the issue of racebending. Please check it out.

Hero Complex: Hollywood whitewash? 'Airbender' and 'Prince of Persia' anger fans with ethnic casting

Joie

Tags: ,

13CommentReply

peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 04:38 am (UTC)

Kind of amazing that people are now using the word "racebending" in reference to other movies as well. It feels like this has the potential of being something that actually makes it into the popular consciousness.

When I see those pictures of Noah Ringer, even before I think about his ethnicity, I just think "Wow that kid looks like he has no sense of humor whatsoever." This is supposed to be Aang?


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)

The sad part about Aang's apparent humorlessness is that if you see the real Noah Ringer (there was a brief interview posted a while back, I think form e Nick Kid's Choice Awards), he's actually a much more laid-back, Aang-like kid than he comes across in all the clips and publicity shots we've seen so far. That suggests to me that the problem is with the director rather than the actor. (But either way, even if he played the part perfectly, there would still be the ethical issue of the film's failure to cast Asian and Inuit actors.)


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major_dallas
major_dallas
Nate the Great
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 10:05 am (UTC)

While it's certainly too late to save The Last Airbender from the mire of racefail, it's still not too late to raise awareness of the larger issues at work here.

Uhm, actually, Hollywood's been doing this for 100 years now and every decade a movie raises the awareness of this fact, but nothing ever changes, not really. People just won't effectively boycott Hollywood to make them to take things like this seriously; especially when Hollywood considers itself the center of Race Sensitivity of the world, you only need go to George Clooney's oscar speach from a few years ago to see that.

Still, wish you the best on this...


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)

Of course they've been doing it for ages, but over time the cries of foul have become louder. I'm not saying that next year or two years from now or even 5 years from now we won't still see racefail in the movies; I'm saying that as long as fans and movie-goers keep raising their voices (and voting with their wallets), sooner or later the racefail will at least decrease, as Hollywood starts to realize it's not to their benefit.

Look at TV for an example of this. No, it's not perfect, either in its representation of minorities or in its avoidance of stereotypes, but it's come a loooooong way in the last several decades. I recently got to hear Nichelle Nichols speak at a convention about her experience being cast in the role of Uhura on the original Star Trek series, and all of the struggles she and Gene Roddenberry went through to get her included on the main cast. Believe me, we've come a long way since then. And we've come a long way at least in part because audiences have spoken up about it.

So you can take your pessimism elsewhere, thanks. The fact that this is a long-standing problem is all the more reason for fans like me to NOT shut up about it, even a year and half after the casting was announced, even as the film is a little over a month from release--and even after the film has come out and the hype has died down. Personally, I now consider myself in the anti-racebending movement for the long haul. I'm planning to continue voting with my wallet against racebending, not just against TLA, but also against PoP, and any of the planned anime-adaptations that are supposedly in the works if they don't cast the lead roles fairly. And I'm not the only one who feels this way.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." ~ Ghandi


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coastal_spirit
coastal_spirit
Gale
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the link. I've been meaning to do a post about this for some time, because I think that some of the people on my f'list are unaware of the situation, and I'd like to give them the opportunity to think about it.


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)

You're welcome!


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spin1978
spin1978
Kyouraku Shunsui
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)

Good article!

If they'd thought about it, I am sure they could have easily casted the Gaang with far more appropriate unknowns, since it's not like any of them are *that* famous.

And since PoP was also mentioned, and I saw the trailer this morning on TV - it's faintly ironic that Ben Kingsley (who played Gandhi way back in the day) is actually half-Indian and had to change his birth name to something more English in order to break into acting.


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mrs_bombadil
Mrs. B.
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)

Good piece. I would have liked to see the article cover in a bit more detail: 1) the implications of whitewashing a character when cultural and ethnic elements are an inherent part of the story (i.e. anglo/western is better!) particularly in light of 2) making the main character(s) white but conscending to allow the secondary characters to be not-white.


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, May. 23rd, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)

Good point. It did include a brief mention of the background actors and a quote from Guy Aoki of MANAA, but that didn't go into much depth. ("He can fill up the background with Asian characters but that doesn’t mean it’s a diverse film.")


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tibbycat
tibbycat
Mark
Mon, May. 24th, 2010 09:16 am (UTC)

Interesting link. Thanks.

Reminds me of in the 70's Doctor Who story The Talons of Weng-Chiang. The titular Chinese character of Li H'sen Chang was played by a very white Anglo Englishman with makeup on to make him look Asian. The makeup is effective but I've always wondered why they bothered. There weren't any Asian actors in England during the 70s? Surely! :p

Edited at 2010-05-24 09:17 am (UTC)


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Mon, May. 24th, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)

Interesting. I think I vaguely remember that storyline.

The Racebending website and Facebook group have a lot of examples of "yellowface", as it's called, but that one isn't included. I suppose they were mainly sticking with film examples, though.


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mrs_bombadil
Mrs. B.
Fri, May. 28th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/25/prince-of-persia-airbende_n_589116.html


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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Fri, May. 28th, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)

Yeah, it's pretty exciting that the AP has now picked up the story, too. I'm just hoping many people will see our side of it when they read about the film(s).


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