Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On Avatar:

One more week and I'm on holiday vacation. One exam (Criminal Procedure) and the rest of one thirty page paper (International Law) to go...

Still don't have energy to blog, so I'm linking a few posts:

This post by Glockgal and this one by Willow make me sad. They're great posts. I just hate that they're necessary. It's incredibly upsetting that so many white actors are being cast to play non-white characters.

Mostly it's the justifications of the defenders that are so irritating to me. The fact that Avatar takes place in a fantasy world does not mean that other races do not exist. Hell, considering that most racial features are adaptations to ones' environment, it would only make sense that a fantasy world with the same approximate construction and climate variations as Earth would have somewhat similar phenotypes in corresponding areas.

To tell you the truth, I'm the one person I know that never actually liked Avatar. My ex-roommate adores it. Does nothing for me. But even I could tell from episode 1 that most if not all of the characters were not intended to be Caucasian.

(And for the record, Aang having "round eyes" does not necessarily exclude him from being Asian. When I studied in Japan, I quickly noticed that gasp! people in Japan have variations in their features like everyone else. And some people in Japan do have rounder eyes than others! I've never been to any other East Asian nation, but I'm going to guess that a certain amount of variation can be found there too!)

Comparisons to Lord of the Rings especially don't fly, because LOTR takes place in what is specifically intended to be a fantasy variation of ancient Europe. Avatar features nations all over the damn world.

It's sad, because it's not like there's a lot of visibly non-white characters in mainstream fantasy. And then you have travesties like that Earthsea miniseries that take nearly every character that's supposed to be non-white and cast a white actor. That's utterly ridiculous. There are good minority actors out there, and it's not like white actors and actresses are hurting for major roles. There is no reason that fantasy should be white-washed!


  • At December 13, 2008 11:04 AM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    To tell you the truth, I'm the one person I know that never actually liked Avatar. My ex-roommate adores it. Does nothing for me.

    I was never a fan - I watched the first couple episodes and thought it was okay, but I never got hooked.

    Still, I'm pretty damn incensed by the whitewashing of the cast just on basic principle.

  • At December 13, 2008 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I really liked Avatar. It was pretty much everything I wanted in a cartoon, and I was sad when it ended.

    Everyone was apprehensive when we heard that there was going to be a live-action movie, we were soothed a little when told that the creators were actually going to be involved in it, and now we're worked up again. I get casting some white actors, but not the whole cast! At least make some of them biracial! We're not limited to white actors!

  • At December 13, 2008 4:55 PM, Blogger Dane said…

    You know, I remember commenting on a similar issue back during your Speed Racer post, Kal, and have to say that due to that discussion my opinion on this subject has changed since last I commented.

    Even though I barely watched the show -- it didn't do much for me either, but I had friend that were nuts for it -- I knew from just looking at the characters that the creators were heavily influenced by Pan-Asian cultures and communities. Even when the main Avatar kid Aang looked white, he looked to be an Asiatic white to me.

    I'm not buying the idea that just because a FANTASY world is in not physically in Asia that it's totally okay to fill the movie with white actors. With that level of logic, LOTR could have have been filled with black actors, and as long as they were good actors no one would have complained, right? I mean, Tolkien never said it was an alternative Medieval Europe in the books, right?

    What's truly heartbreaking is that fantasy gives us a chance to remake social and cultural roles on a new slate, and when we ignore that for a mainstream adaptation, it kills one of the genre's biggest strengths. I hope the producers will reconsider some of their casting choices, or at least diversify it further. We'll see, I guess.

    Oh, and I just looked up Jesse McCartney, the guy playing Zuko. I don't want to even bother looking up the other choices now.

  • At December 14, 2008 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, man. Would you believe the stuff that comes out of the guys who defend the white cast? Check out my Deviantart journal.

    Here's what one of these brilliant fellows had to teach me! :D

    "The majority of people here in the states are WHITE so get over it. If you want something with people of Mexican decent watch a movie aimed aimed Mexican people . If you want something with black people in it watch a move aimed at black people. Nick is trying to make MONEY so they are going to use the race that will bring in the most money WHITES It's sad but ture.

    As for minority actors tough shit. Hollywood is not about coddling people it's about making MONEY. People would be wise in remembering this. How many movies as of late have used non famous minority actors. Not very many it's just how it goes and yes it sucks but that's life. I agree that we should have more minorities in movies but it shouldn't have to be in every damn movie.

    Also before you pull the :iconthatsracistplz: card I'm black and I sick and tired of the race card being pulled every 10 seconds trivializing it and making it harder for REAL cases of racism to be taken seriously. So get the fuck over it. If you don't like it make your own movie and cast who you want in it."

    and this string is followed in agreement to four more people. XD I've never seen these people around before. I believe they came as a result of this other brilliant poster who has been rather rude to me in the past (and who I finally blocked for harrassment).

    "Yeah it is, a pssh to diversity any how. Call me an asshole but diversity is one of the reasons we can't have nice things in America because people get pissed pfffff at shit that has no real reasons to get mad at and are most likely seeking attention to a mass amount of like minded people.

    Shit you people (Yes you people >: ) just seem to love to make big deals out of stuff like this. I should know, I'm a whale biologist. It's not surprising Hollywood would try this since when it comes to Hollywood diversity is a bunch of cliche. All the white movies are about white people, all the black movies will have black people, all the Mexican movies will have Cubans, the Asian movies will have almost unrealistic fighting. It's not even really Hollywood, it's a matter of the country the film is being made in. If it was made in Afric, you be there will be Africans playing the roles, same with Asians in Asia, Mexicans in Mexico, white people in America. It's just how things are, we're all pretty fucking racist if you look at it because that's how shit is around us."

    Diversity is why we can't have nice things


    I'd smack them, but I don't want to get my hands dirty. The ignorance, it BURNS! XD

  • At December 14, 2008 9:42 AM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    I honestly seriously did not see that coming.

    Mainly because it never occurred to me that they'd be stupid enough to cast an all-white cast.

    I do think that it isn't necessary for them to follow the races of the characters in the cartoon. Aang could be played by a black kid and it wouldn't really change anything about the character dynamics. It's more that so much of the series was about Aang's quest and duty to unite the warring nations and the mixed races of the main cast reflected that.

  • At December 14, 2008 6:40 PM, Anonymous Saving The World With Postage said…

    Hey! Followed a link trail to this post, and I just wanted to thank you for helping to get the word out about this casting decision. You're right, it's been INCREDIBLY discouraging to read people's defenses of the whitewashing of these characters, and it warms my little heart to see people like you speaking out. Particularly as you're not even a big fan who's "overinvested."

    If you have a few minutes and a stamp, some of us are coming together to try and do something about it:

    Any help you can offer would be very much appreciated it! <3


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