Avatar: Get a tan, become asian

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

There was a lot of uproar last month when it was announced that M. Night Shyamalan’s movie adaptation Avatar: The Last Airbender would star a lot of pretty white people, with no Asians in sight. The animated Nickelodeon show takes place in an Asian-inspired fantasy realm. Hollywood, of course, is a Caucasian-inspired fantasy realm.

The controversy hasn’t really died down. Avatar fans are still angry. And one of the movie’s actors, Jackson Rathbone, who will play Sokka, seems to think he can easily pull off playing Asian with just a new hairstyle and a tan: ‘Twilight’ Star Jackson Rathbone Hopes To ‘Show His Range’ In ‘Last Airbender’.

Due in theaters in summer 2010, “Airbender” has already begun to face a bit of controversy over the casting of white actors like Rathbone, Ringer and McCartney to play Asian characters – a concern the actor was quick to dismiss. “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan,” he said of the transformation he’ll go through to look more like Sokka. “It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.”

No dude. The audience will have to suspend disbelief a lot. Or just not go see the movie. This is just another obvious, ridiculous example of how Hollywood studios are really not interested in casting Asians in roles, even when the parts clearly call for it. That’s racist!

As I mentioned last time, a loud, vocal letter-writing movement, spearheaded by this site, is mobilizing to protest these casting decisions. We’re talking real paper snail-mail letters, because online petitions and emails are easily ignored. Write to:

Mr Mark Bakshi
President Features Production
5555 Melrose Avenue
Shulberg Building
Suite 211
Room 115
Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197

and

Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall
Kennedy/Marshall Company
619 Arizona Avenue, Fl. 2
Santa Monica, California 90401

If you wrote in the first time when this news surfaced last month, you may have noticed that these addresses are different. That’s apparently because both Paramount Pictures and M. Night Shyamalan’s office returned-to-sender the first wave of protest letters. Do they really not care that much? Everything you need to know about the Avatar letter-writing campaign is here. I’m seriously that the studio gives a crap, but it’s still worth speaking out.

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

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