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Protest Over M. Night’s Avatar: The Last AirBender

Posted by YBMW Staff on February 6th, 2009
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Paramount Pictures’ MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies’ live-action film, Avatar: The Last Airbender, based on the Emmy award-winning animated television series has recently come under fire from an online organization protesting its systematic exclusion of Asian descendant actors.

The organization which is spread headed predominately by Asian Americans had this to say:

For those who don’t already know: The actors who will play the main four characters of “The Last Airbender,” the live action Avatar film, have been announced. And all of them are white.

We love Avatar, and have for a long time. But we’re pretty disappointed about this casting decision, and we know we’re not alone in that.

Racism is still a big problem, in America and elsewhere, that affects real people every day. Movies like this one help shape people’s attitudes of what’s normal and acceptable, particularly the kids and young teenagers who are its target audience. Hollywood has a long history of marginalizing minority actors and whitewashing properties like Avatar — they’ll only stop if we speak up and tell them that it’s not okay, and that we won’t stand for it.

The organization aims at protesting peacefully and respectfully during open audition calls for Avatar: The Last Airbender, and hopes to drum up enough media attention to alert Paramount’s casting decision so they can no longer pretend that racial exclusion is justified.

Racial exclusion in leading roles for big Hollywood blockbusters has been a hot button issue as of late. Similar outrage and protest has sprung for the upcoming Dragon Ball Evolution film, where Justin Chatwin, a white American actor had been cast over an Asian American actor as the leading role of Son Goku, a character influenced and designed after The Monkey King, an ancient Chinese fable. To put it into perspective, it would be similar to casting a Japanese American actor as the next Superman or an Indian American as the next Sherlock Holmes.

For more information please visit the aang-aint-white blog.


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