An Uncomfortable Silence: Why Is Geek Media Keeping Quiet About The AKIRA Remake?

By Arturo R. García

In the post-Airbender era, it’s more important than ever to talk about questionable casting decisions, and outright white-washings like the Akira remake is shaping up to be.

But it’s also important to keep an eye on who’s not talking about it.

With time running out ’til filming starts – GeekTyrant says shooting is due to begin in August – it’s becoming increasingly hard to decide if the project is just laughable, just offensive, or both. As if it this project wasn’t cringe-worthy enough when Zac Efron was reportedly up for the role of Kaneda, Racebending and other sites revealed more FAIL-worthy details this week:

The story, to be adapted from the original manga, as opposed to the anime, will now take place in “Neo-Manhattan.”In spite of this, the lead characters in the remake will retain the original character names, Tetsuo, and Kaneda – which would have been a reason for optimism, if it wasn’t for the list of actors being mentioned in connection with each part:

Tetsuo

  • Robert Pattinson
  • Andrew Garfield
  • James McAvoy

Average Estimated Age: 27
Character age: 15

Kaneda

  • Garrett Hedlund
  • Michael Fassbender
  • Chris Pine
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Joaquin Phoenix

Average Estimated Age: 30
Character age: 16

On top of that, the characters are reportedly still supposed to be members of a biker gang in this new incarnation. So, the selling points as of now include a cast whitewashing with people who are way too old for these characters, making for potentially the most awkward-looking bikers since Wild Hogs.

Our friends at Racebending.com, of course, made the case for diversity:

Last year, a Racebending.com volunteer ran a count of the 241 Warner Bros movies from 2000 to 2009 and found that only 2% had an Asian first-billed lead. Aside from The Matrix trilogy starring Keanu Reeves, the majority of films with Asian leads starred Asian nationals like Jet Li and Rain.

Although Asian American actors are sometimes cast as supporting actors in films like this month’s Sucker Punch, they still struggle for representation in leading roles in Warner Bros. films. If not in a film called Akira, for characters named Kaneda and Tetsuo, when will Asian Americans get to star in a Warner Bros film?

In contrast, even though 40% of movie tickets are purchased by people of color, 90% of the films released by Warner Bros between 2000 and 2009 featured a white lead.

Because one out of every 10 modern-day Manhattanites are Asian American (Lower Manhattan is 41% Asian,) it would make just as much sense–if not more sense, given the names “Kaneda” and “Tetsuo”–for the leads to be Asian American as it would for the leads to be white. Tetsuo and Kaneda should be cast with Asian American leads.

Besides this sound argument, Racebending has also created a Facebook petition to show Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures that there is an audience out there who wants to see some semblance of respect for the original work.

Warner Brothers isn’t talking about it yet, of course. The studio did not return a Thursday call from Racialicious seeking comment. But what’s really sticking out at this point is the relative lack of discussion on the matter from the geek community’s bigger outlets.

One would think that fan outcry over the mishandling of one of manga’s greatest works, particularly in the wake of the Airbender uprorar, would garner more attention. To be fair, it’s possible they’re waiting for the final casting to take place. But as of Thursday evening, Newsarama’s film section was all about the Marvel Comics movies and Simon Pegg’s Paul, and CBR’s normally-reliable Film Reel at Comic Book Resources has nothing on the story, and there’s nothing at Comics Alliance and not a peep at ComicVine, it’s just … off.

Wait, that last one’s not quite true. ComicVine’s anime-centric affiliate, AnimeVice, had a short story that started like this:

Once again, I’m sure this bit of news will cause many otakus’ heads to explode. I expect the beige walls of the communal parlor that is the internet to be absolutely coated with blood, bones and brains.

There’s a similar undercurrent of Othering to what little coverage the Akira issue is getting around other sites – ComicBookMovie.com seemingly only has a story up because a guest contributor submitted it, and sites like IGN are quick to pin the Airbender protest on Racebending – not just for proper credit, but almost apologetically, as if to placate the business outlets they rely on for the “exclusive” interviews and rumors they and their ilk are normally quick to pounce on: we don’t have a problem with the casting, it’s those people.

Seemingly the only writer outside of the usual progressive outlets who is actually taking a stand on the issue, and not couching her coverage with the usual, “What do you think?” and Some people are accusing Warner Brothers of ‘whitewashing’ Akira” chestnuts you can find with a Google search is Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com, who asks, “Where’s the Hollywood Wake-Up Call?”:

The Last Airbender film famously called a lot of unwanted attention to itself by whitewashing their cast as well, particularly the lead character Ang. The most colorful people in that cast were, predictably, the villains. The trend is getting harder and harder to ignore.

One of the main responses to ire over the casting of Akira is that there are no young Asian actors with enough star power to get the big box office numbers that Hollywood is banking on. But isn’t that exactly the point? Where are these young actors? Why aren’t they being given a chance? It’s not as if they don’t exist; Grace Park and John Cho are pretty solid proof. Who is keeping them out?

It made me realize for the first time that all of the Asian actors I remember watching as a kid are gone now—and no one has stepped up to take their place. Jackie Chan was a favorite of mine as a kid, but he has retired. So has Jet Li. Chow Yun Fat hasn’t been around for a while. Michelle Yeoh occasionally appears in an action flick. Lucy Liu is…come to think of it, where is Lucy Liu? A lot of these actors created a place for themselves in cinema, using their own crews and creating their own projects, but Hollywood doesn’t seem at all anxious to fill their shoes.

Geeks like to tag themselves as being progressive. So why the silence on this issue?

Top image courtesy of Teaser Trailer
Actor image courtesy of Racebending

  • Anonymous

    Not really, Neville.

    Number one, you left out the amount they spent to market it – which is was about $180 million. Total budget crept up to about $300 million. Initially, Paramount wanted a franchise – they envisioned 3 films total at $250 million, so he overspent and underdelivered.

    http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/airbender-torn-between-solid-tracking-horrible-reviews-18909
    http://www.webcitation.org/5qkFtBF4y

    Also, you have to understand how Hollywood rates films a success or a failure. It’s not by total box office revenues, it’s by opening box. That’s why so many films have problems being seen as successful – they get categorized as “sleeper hits”, with numbers after opening weekend and DVD sales sometimes swaying studios to take a second look at something they initially canned. (Harold & Kumar is a good example of this.)

    Also, revenue projection is different from earned revenue. It’s not a simple matter of exceeding what was spent to make the film. The studios wanted a much larger return on investment than they got – $319 million is nothing to sniff at, but if the studio execs were expecting a $700 million total gross, it fell way bellow expectations.

    They were hyping Avatar like it would be the next Transformers – Transformers broke box office records by having a $55 million opening day. Even if no one had seen the movie in the next few weeks, Hollywood would have considered Transformers a success.

    This is one of the reasons that all of us who are advocates of smaller films encourage people to see films the day they open. That’s the vote that counts. Everyone looks at opening box and makes their decisions based on that. Which is why we haven’t heard a peep about Avatar two. If it was successful, it would have a sequel in the works. Paramount may still decide to do it, if DVD sales make up for the opening weekend numbers, but it’s a long shot.

    In the meantime, there’s no word on a sequel, and Shamalan is working on his next flick with Will and Jaden Smith.

  • Chiefofskater

    nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooo nooooooooooooooooooooi don t want give them for testuo vs kaneda yu know about characters re precious , i want joseph gordon lewitt is alone testuo and one actor is alone kaneda about him is precious character , x men and singer and tron and twiliget break and two lovers re not adapte in akira whyyyy??????????? who say permissson ???? director bros huges really don t know it means reallly , if movie will sure bad in about “300 000 000 DOLLLARS FOR REMAKE AKIRA2013 IF TOP TWO ACTORS RE PRECIOUS ROLE OF KANEDA VS TESTUO AKIRE NOT MUST BE DOWN BECAUSE OTOMO ‘S AKIRA IS BEST µ NOT SAME FILM ADAPTE LIVES ACTION AKIRA I WANT PRECIOUS FILM ON AKIRA BUT TESTUO AND KANEDA AND LEADERS ‘s and colonnel about boy is akira too , if them wants player the role kaneda and testuo , not definition actors by peoples like fan ‘s on akira , because people artworker did by managa styles , same otomo , shit i means i don t understand actors on akira , i see , i doon t like akira because them goes on akira and it s one time for remake akira because movie is very expenisve , difffuclt remake akira , witout wrong in movie on akira at studio , i neve give andrew and justin and james and etccccc….. for testuo vs testuo , why teenager for kaneda and testuo ? about actors japanses ???? but complitace !!!!! shitttt shitttt

  • Anonymous

    Another huge problem with anime, I think, it that the Japanese draw their characters to look white

    I really hate that line of thinking.

    Some characters in manga/anime are marked as white – as you correctly noted, quite a few series take place in Europe or the Victorian era, or have characters with non Japanese surnames. However, reading most characters as white due to “non-asian physical features” is incorrect. The simplest way to illustrate this is too look at any comic where there is a mix of Japanese characters and “others.” In all cases, others will be marked. Just off the top of my head, see Ranma 1/2′s depiction of Chinese characters, INVU (which is Korean manhwa) and its depiction of Europeans, Wild Act’s depiction of white American characters and the way black and white Americans are show in Boys Over Flowers.

    Matt Thorn wrote about this ages and ages ago, explaining the difference between markedness and unmarkedness:

    A key concept in semiotics is that of “markedness” and “unmarkedness,” elaborated by linguist Roman Jakobson in the 1930s. An “unmarked” category is one that is taken for granted, that is so obvious to both speaker and listener it needs no marking. A “marked” category, by contrast, is one that is seen as deviating from the norm, and therefore requires marking. Well-known examples in English are the words “man” and “woman.” “Man” has for a millennium meant both “human being” and “adult male human being.” The word “woman” comes from a compound meaning “wife-man,” and denotes the relationship of the signified to that “unmarked” category, “man.” [...]

    If an American of Asian descent wants to create a children’s book intended to build self-esteem among Asian American children and educate other children about Asian American experiences, she must first make sure the readers know that the characters represented are Asian, and so, consciously or not, she resorts to stereotyped signifiers that are easily recognizable, such as “slanted” eyes (an exaggerated representation of the epicanthic fold that is often, but not always, more pronounced in East Asians than in Europeans or Africans) or pitch black, straight hair (regardless of the fact that East Asian hair can range from near-black to reddish brown, and is often wavy or even frizzy). So it is that Americans and others raised in European-dominated societies, regardless of their background, will see a circle with two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth, free of racial signifiers, as “white.”

    Japan, however, is not and never has been a European-dominated society. The Japanese are not Other within their own borders, and therefore drawn (or painted or sculpted) representations of, by and for Japanese do not, as a rule, include stereotyped racial markers. A circle with two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth is, by default, Japanese.

    It should come as no surprise, then, that Japanese readers should have no trouble accepting the stylized characters in manga, with their small jaws, all but nonexistent noses, and famously enormous eyes as “Japanese.” Unless the characters are clearly identified as foreign, Japanese readers see them as Japanese, and it would never occur to most readers that they might be otherwise, regardless of whether non-Japanese observers think the characters look Japanese or not.

    http://www.matt-thorn.com/mangagaku/faceoftheother.html

    There is also this video, which veers way too far into stereotyping for me to cosign it, but does visually debunk quite a few of these assumptions:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKTvFhRbBt8

    Now, neither Matt Thorn or the creator of the video is the be all end all of the discussion or debate. I listened to a lecture by shojo manga scholar Masami Toku a few years back, when her discussion on Shojo Manga, Girl Power, and Comics came to DC. In it, she made an interesting note – that the reason some people see Japanese comics as having European influences is due to the occupation of Japan. She believes that resistance was sown in comics, where Japanese were seen as doing everything better than their oppressors – even physical traits. She pointed to a slide where a Japanese character was drawn taller and blonder than the person who was supposed to be Caucasian standing next to her, noting that it was a way of showing dominance and resistance.

    And we haven’t even touched on what gets imported and exported.

    So in sum, the issue is a LOT more complicated that just “Japanese draw their characters to look white.” It’s amazing how white is assumed as the default, in all times, in all contexts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-Clark/100002086459475 Kimberly Clark

      Excellent post, and I completely agree with you about Japanese people seeing the characters as Asian, it doesn’t matter what the characters look like, Japanese is the default in Japan. Unfortunately this is all that matters:

      “So it is that Americans and others raised in European-dominated societies, regardless of their background, will see a circle with two dots for eyes and a line for a mouth, free of racial signifiers, as white.”

      When Americans and others in the west go turn an anime into a movie, they are going to follow their own cultural norms – that is white as the default. The conditioning is unconscious and really strong in white dominated societies. And it sucks.

      Example: I was reading a really excellent short story a couple of days ago called “Mr. Bear” – from the “Blood Lite” anthology. Relaxing, in the tub, I was enjoying the story when it hit me. The author NEVER indicated the race of the protagonist, not even a hint, yet somehow in my head I was seeing him as white. This made me sit up, and think about it. I tried to see him as black, tried to see him as Latino. But since there were no indicators of this race, I just keep imagining him as white. This from a person who always brings the social conscious elements to “girls day out” by talking about things like why Megan Fox can become famous in an instant and get a ton of magazine covers while her black counterpart, in my opinion, Megan Good can not. I have been conscious of this issue my entire life but still I fall into the default line of thinking when I’m not actively fighting against it mentally.

      Its disturbing, its sad, it make me fear for my niece who loves watch a Disney that has no real representation for her, but its programming and its a hard battle to win against. And its not just me who falls into it.

      So, in conclusion – I understand that its a lot more complicated, but hate it or not, there are things that are, and that are things that should be. Most westerners are just not going to see those characters as Japanese.

      Hopefully when we have start to have more minority controlled media – conscious of such issues, the really long process of deprogramming can start.

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a well researched reply.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-Clark/100002086459475 Kimberly Clark

    I don’t really agree. I think that’s getting too stringent. If you can find an actor that will do a good job and looks the part, I don’t see the problem. Its acting, its not suppose to be reality. I think it would start to be discriminatory in a different way if we could only hire black American non-latinos for black American roles, instead of Afro-Dominicans, Afro-Cubans, or Afro-Puerto Ricans. In that case, Zoe Saldana should not be working at all, since she mostly gets roles of black American non-latinas. I mean what if we said LGBT actors could only play LGBT roles? Not straight roles? We’d have to fire Neil Patrick Harris right now from “How I met your mother”. That would be discriminatory, and Neil is way too awesome to be treated that way.

    I think the main issue we’re dealing with in the whitewashing of movies is historical privilege. We’re talking about a history of people adding slant to their eyes, and black or brown makeup to their skin, instead of letting someone who naturally possesses those features have a chance at the role. Further, they have the power and position to say, “well we just make these characters white”, and that’s that.

    Slightly unrelated – did you know the role Angelina Jolie played in “Wanted” is a black character in the comic book? You can look up Fox from “Wanted”. Didn’t hear any outrage about that one either.

  • Matt E. Allen

    I think that the reason there isn’t much talk about this movie is that there have been numerous stories about anime being made into live action films that never happened. Until this movie is in fact being filmed, there’s no reason to start complaining about it.

  • ansel

    Just want to say thanks for writing this and calling it to our attention! Shouldn’t be shocked but I am. How could anyone in their right mind possibly see Akira and want to have the likes of Zac Efron and other white people in those roles…. I signed the Facebook petition. Maybe there should be a physical protest by the fans at some point – was there ever one for Airbender? It helped force Atlantic Records to release Lupe Fiasco’s album…

  • Ulysses Not yet home

    Hollywood and the motion picture industry is headed by white guys, who greenlight films based on THEIR fantasies about themselves. They don’t see themselves in portrayals of characters who are not unambiguously LIKE themselves. So from their perspective, “who wants to see a movie featuring Japanese teenagers doing ANYTHING?”. So, no matter what the original story was, and despite their recognition of it as a compelling story (hence their willingness to consider it in the first place), the decision makers need to see themselves as the protagonist. That ALL triumphant stories are about you. That ALL heroes look like you, and only you. That NO other narratives are worthy. It is “white skin privilege” made explicate.

  • http://deeplyproblematic.com RMJ

    Great analysis, it’s clear that this is going to be another disaster….

    I thought I would share one link that does address the racism of the casting:

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/here-are-the-white-guys-who-will-star-in-the-akira,53511/

  • http://init-movingpictures.blogspot.com/ refresh_daemon

    I don’t know. The whole project looks like it’s going to be an epic failure on the level of the Dragonball film. Perhaps the geeks proper gave up hope for an even mediocre adaptation a long time ago?

  • Pippa

    I feel as though there are a few reasons this might not be talked about as much as Avatar. First, Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon had recently wrapped when they started putting the movie into motion, so there was a large audience that was pumped up to see more of this world, and I think when they put Shyamalan in the director’s seat there was some hope that the movie might be cool and have proper racial representation. From the first casting news people started to be angry.

    Akira is none to recent. It is beloved but it’s not recent enough to have an active fan community to discuss it. Also, my feeling on this movie is there’s no way it’s gonna be good at all, it’s such a failure out of the gate. I don’t think many people had their hopes up at all about this movie so it’s not being covered. We’re all expecting a ridiculous movie like Dragonball with a ridiculous mostly white cast. Somehow it hurts less when the whitewashing results in a patently ridiculous movie than when something that is promising is whitewashed.

  • Anonymous

    i remember it came up and was debated about a year ago in “yabs”section at cbr, but the current one, in the tv section, is more about some people stating that they dislike the Hughes brothers. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that someone called me a racist simply because i stated that it would be nice if they actually gave an Asian male a chance to audition for the lead. lol. The idea that you can have a story of an Asian-American set in new york couldn’t penetrate some peoples thought process. Asking why only white actors if race doesn’t matter? of course, no answer. So they can be white and because it’s now in new york, they don’t need to be Asian, but they also can’t be anything else, regardless if they’re bankable and/or great actors or not. the mind boggles.

    For me honestly, I’m tapped out. i know every argument put forth by those with the “who cares”, “it’s just a movie”, “fight real racism” “kingpin…heimdall, so stfu” attitude, especially those from specific posters at cbr. It would basically be like talking to a brick wall, and i don’t have anymore energy or patience for it. or the lame excuses and justifications.

  • Anonymous

    So we can expect Akira to be like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jafd97yJFOI. It would be funnier if it wasn’t so sad and maddening that Hollywood won’t go out on a limb and cast people who are the actual races of the characters on screen.

  • http://www.escarondito.blogspot.com Escarondito

    This is a very complicated issue. I feel that “The Hunger Games” and “Akira” are two slightly different animals compared to “The Last Airbender” which was a blatant white-wash. Akira being set in Neo-Manhattan does remove them from being Asian actors for the lead roles. However, and it is a big however, the decision to keep the names as Kaneda and Tetsuo leads me to believe two things. 1) They are trying to make this move by picking up the fan boys by using the real names 2) Yet carrying the movie on the mainstream (see: white) back by making them white.

    Besides making the characters much older than they should be, and already making the movie look like Wild Hogs fights psychics, the second strike which will ruin this film (and it will be ruined trust me I’ll explain) is that fact that none of the mainstream audience members who they are making the actors white for, will stay in this movie watching the dude from Tron and the waif from Twilight being called Kaneda and Tetsuo. Just close your eyes and create the scene in your head. It already screams “OFF!”.

    In regards to the response, or lack of response, from the Otaku, as you call it “geek”, community I offer this. When the report first came in that Zac Effron would be Kaneda we buzzed. Without a doubt we were buzzing, but if you go to those posts you’ll notice that most people were buzzing more for picking a bad white actor than it being a white actor in itself. After news of Akira died down buzz died as well. Now that it is picking up again I believe many of us are going through what we would the “sow realization of death”. Sephiroths sword is arcing downward and we know that Aeris is gonna die. If you don’t understand that, just realize we know that Akira is going to be made with or without our voice being heard. So now we are left with two things. The geeks who will go to see the movie because it may not be what they wanted but it is Akira. Or those who won’t go to see the film and make sure they lose the money that they put in for this.

    And lastly, don’t you realize alot of the writers on those websites are white males? So they will never feel the outrage that minorities do when it comes to the POC actors losing their roles to white actors. So as more news comes out they could really never care as much as an asian-american male would. But then again, what if we did #idris4superman?

    • A.

      “Sephiroths sword is arcing downward and we know that Aeris is gonna die.”

      This is single-handedly the best analogy that I’ve heard for this situation. That’s how deep the shit is that Hollywood is miring themselves into.

    • A.

      “Sephiroths sword is arcing downward and we know that Aeris is gonna die.”

      This is single-handedly the best analogy that I’ve heard for this situation. That’s how deep the shit is that Hollywood is miring themselves into.

  • http://shashalaperf.blogspot.com/ Shashalaperf

    I’m an anime/manga fan but know little about American comics. I just assumed the low-key play on this was more because the two seemed to be separate communities. I’ve been on anime message boards there’s very little talk about American stuff or people are totally into the “OMG animez is SSOOOO much bettahz!” mode and I figured a lot of comic communities had similar ideas. Anime and Japanese pop related sites have been talking about this since Leo DiCaprio’s name was first attached to it. There was also talk about a white-washed Death Note movie and Cowboy Bebop.

    I’m actually not a fan of Akira at all, but this is pretty stupid. Its mind-boggling how Hollywood continues to shut out minorities in roles and use lame ass excuses like “they don’t sell movies, blah blah blah.” The Karate Kid remake made more money than Kick-Ass, Knight and Day, and yes even The Last Airbender. There are no bankable Asian actors in Hollywood because Hollywood won’t given them a fucking chance to become bankable! It’s amazing how the world is changing yet Hollywood is still stuck on the same shit.

    I supposed this is what we’ll really expect to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jafd97yJFOI

    This movie will cost millions to make and I hope it fails big time.

    • http://www.escarondito.blogspot.com Escarondito

      Trust me Shashalaperf, my avatar is 1/100,000,000th the size of how much I love Akira. Deep and near to my heart it started my anime obsession. I hope this bombs with and lights the fire of a million fanboys already shed tears.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-Clark/100002086459475 Kimberly Clark

      I think this is ridiculous. I really hope there is a change of heart and some up and coming young Asian actors are given a chance.

      That said, not all animes are being white washed. Death Note would be white wahsed if all the characters where changed to white, but I would argue that the characters in “Cowboy Bebop” would not. I think they are, in fact white, as evidenced by the names of the characters: Spike Spiegal, Faye Valentine – etc. The same with Speed Racer. I just wanted to point that out, I’ve noticed people seem to think all Japanese animations are about Japanese characters and I really don’t think they are.

      • Sabrina

        Speed Racer was whitewashed when they brought the anime to the US. The original series was very much about Japanese characters. ;)

  • http://www.examiner.com/family-in-new-york/rahela-choudhury RCHOUDH

    Oh yeah one more thing…I dread that while the male main characters will be whitewashed, the female leads may easily remain Asian, thereby drawing upon the uncomfortable dynamics of Asian female fetishism and submissiveness…

  • http://www.examiner.com/family-in-new-york/rahela-choudhury RCHOUDH

    Have most of these Geek Media enterprises gone commercial like IGN? If so that could explain their silence upon the whitewashing of Akira because if they stand up for any social justice principles they could lose out on alot of the powerful business backers from mainstream media organizations like Hollywood. It’s kind of like how mainstream celebrity gossip media such as Entertainment Tonight only lob soft-ball questions at their celebrity guests because they don’t want to lose their support and future appearances…

    Also if alot of the geek media enterprise isn’t run by POC’s, then it’s possible they’ve grown tired of bringing up “racebending” issues in Hollywood. It’s depressingly easy for people to become immune to the effects of injustice to the point where they get more upset at the people bringing attention to the injustice than to the ones perpetuating it, kind of like a “oh no not this issue again!” sort of attitude.

    And keeping the main characters’ original names in the movie while having white actors portray them is so unbelievably stupid and egregious. It’s almost like donning “yellowface”; I wonder if they’ll give any explanation in the movie for why these guys have Japanese names (I hope it’s not something idiotic like these guys are hard-core anime buffs so that’s why they adopted Japanese names!)

    Oh yes and there’s one more AA actor that’s fairly recognizable and that they could have tapped for this movie: Takeshi Kaneshiro.

    • http://jasminllenadegracia.blogspot.com Jasmin

      Takeshi is fine as hell. I would see it just for him, and I’m not even into anime/manga.

  • AJ

    Many of the geeks I’ve encountered have been the most unapologetic sexists, racists and etc all in the name of humor so I’m not about to call them progressive anytime soon. As for the movie I was hoping that it would have been canceled but that would be too much to ask for what’s going to tick me off the most is how many people will come to the movies defense and allow this sort of thing to continue.

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  • http://www.scribblesandsonnets.blogspot.com Jessica Isabel

    Hard to say. I know it pisses me the hell off, but then again, with all the work we (the communal blogosphere) did to try and draw attention the The Last Airbender, it still went ahead as planned. Albeit, it did horribly at the box office, but as I found out later, that was because the movie itself was bad. It had very little to do with people boycotting it and alot to do with it sucking.

  • Kwaku

    I bet part of the reason is because this is old news. When Zac Efron was rumored for Kaneda a few months ago, there were a lot of talk on geek sites about it.

  • http://DeadAmericanDream.blogspot.com AngryBroomstick

    unFUCKINGbelievable. Not even ONE huge Asian movie star (or pop star) is considered for a role? If these casting agents had bothered to consider any huge stars from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, China, etc… they could draw in HUGE audiences and make LOADS of money overseas while also possibly doing quite well in USA.

    oh yeah… and it’s set in neo MANHATTAN? and not one person of color up for casting consideration? LOL!! What is this, another repeat of “Friends.”

    • Anonymous

      Exactly. This is if “Friends” became a movie involving an apocalyptic future where yet again white people can get away from us POCs. But they might keep the Asian women for fetishism and titillation.

      I’m blinded by the utter whiteness of the potential actors above.

  • http://twitter.com/subWOW Absence/Alternatives

    Thank you so much for this article! I was just lamenting this fact of Hollywood coopting the fringe Geek Culture (manga, anime) and “Whitewashing” it to try to mainstream it all in the pursuit of something NEW to revitalize the at-risk film industry (Hello YouTube!) I saw the trailer for Sucker Punch and it looked like a balled-up conglomeration of every Otaku’s fantasy from anime and mange rolled into one. As far as I could tell, all of the lead girls (yes, they are MEANT to be objectified as girls, so no disrespect on my part) are blonde and so pale they glow in the dark. “So this is it? We can’t f*** get a break? They are taking away manga and anime from us too?”

    (Let’s not go into the whole obvious issue of the problematic of perpetually objectifying women in the name of empowering them through hyper-sexualization…)

    On a bright note, actually, now I think about it, I am not sure whether this counts as a plus or minus but the ONLY U.S. movie I know with an Asian American male lead who is NOT a kung fu master and who actually gets to kiss and gets the girl aka Debbie Gibson (sorry about the spoiler; and you don’t know who Debbi Gibson is then you are too young and I shouldn’t be talking to you…) is Vic Chao in… “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”…

    In this post-Obama juncture, I have many people telling me that we are a “color blind” society and I should NOT be so hung up on race/ethnicity/blah blah blah, implying that by not letting go I am being the “racist” myself because I seem to be the only one seeing race. Now I get it. “Color blind” means “Universal” which in turn applies to “WHITES ONLY” as in “White actors/actresses can represent any culture especially in the post-apocalyptic universe previously residing in manga/anime aka Japanese culture”. Sorry. I’d better stop since I am merely repeating myself: I have written about this in my graduate school more than a decade ago.

    • Anonymous

      I heard the women cast in Sucker Punch talk about how they trained for the role. I don’t think they would really need to train for that white male fantasy on acid, but I don’t want to belittle what work they did for it. But I doubt it was anything tantamount to the amount of training Jada did for The Matrix. Now that woman put on some muscle and managed and looked hot as hell and empowering.