Friday, October 09, 2009


so in case you don't know the background: the producers of avatar the last airbender have cast white kids in asian roles in the big screen adaptation of this "beloved" japanese cartoon. and the director is none other than m. night 6th sense. (this casting practice apparently draws a bigger crowd than if we were to watch asian kids in the big screen portrayal. in fact, you may not know this, but they almost hired an all-white cast for crouching tiger, hidden dragon.) the only asian in the film is slumdog patellionaire, and he is playing the bad guy. (and he was a late casting pick. originally, jesse mccartney was slated to play this part! and jesse is really white. in fact, if you look up "white" in the online dictionary, you'll see his picture. and for those of you that are thinking, "ha ha, you're joke isn't very original," i answer- it isn't original because it's not a joke. check out the link at
here is a website with more details about this and other examples of racebending. it's called (of course.)
they're holding a forum here locally (see below) on oct 15th at the ethnic cultural center just off the uw campus - from 4-5 pm. might be worth checking out.

thanks ben for keeping us all aware.


Cindy said...

What? I don't get it? What's wrong?

Okay, I do get it. That's so ridiculous. It's like back in the early days of cinema when they had all white people play Native Americans.

jrm said...

well cindy, i am concerned that it maybe even worse than that... i mean, when natalie wood played maria in west side story, they at least tried to make her look somewhat puerto rican. but in this case, some are even denying that these cartoon characters were ever asian to begin with. they're asking, can a cartoon character have an ethnicity?

so anng, katara, and sokka are not even pretending to be asian. they are straight-up whiteys and proud of it. (and they are from northern idaho too!)

Billy said...

JRM, it is Billy O'.

Where is this meeting? Is THIS something that we should be covering? I googled padek in hopes of finding out what the heck it is, and low and behold... Got your blog!

Any other kids interested in getting involved with our 'digital literacy' project?

Have a great weekend!
-Billy O'

stacy said...

Even though I'm hugely into Avatar, I'm not going to go to the movie. I think it's part of a larger Racefail, and it was jumped on by children's lit people when we first found out about it because that conversation has been ongoing in a lot of ways since late last year.

By the way, just so you know, this is an cartoon concepted by Americans and made in Korean animation studios, not an original Japanese anime. But the principle is still the same--all the cast was meant to be Asian. And I'm not sure what their problem is--they brought in the audience every week when it was on Nick, and it's still got a huge following. The millions of people who *want* this movie to be made know the characters are Asian and are flat-out not going to see the movie because of this flub.

If I were still local, I'd go to the meeting with you.