I've pretty much said everything I've wanted to say about the moral outrage I feel when Hollywood whitewashes Asian America, detailed in my monologue, "21 Reasons Why This Movie Already Sucks." So I don't have much more to add to the discussion about the upcoming movie adaptation of Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender, but I will say that it is a rather bizarre situation. Here are some details from the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Nickelodeon's animated TV series, Avatar, has an "Asian-inspired setting. The core ideas are drawn from Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist philosophy; its character names - Aang, Katara, Toph Bei Fong - incorporate Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian phonemes; and its visual identity is modeled on traditional Asian iconography."
- "When the core cast of the Avatar movie was revealed, hard-core fans recoiled - not because the actors are mostly unknowns, drawn from open auditions across the country, but because, well, they're white."
- "Two of the most celebrated Asian American creators in comics - Gene Yang, National Book Award finalist for his graphic novel, American Born Chinese, and Derek Kirk Kim, whose work has won comics' most prestigious laurels, the Xeric, Ignatz, Eisner and Harvey awards" - launched "a protest that's generated torrents of both support and criticism."
- But the tricky thing is that Avatar was "invented by two white Americans, Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino."
- And "many of the voice actors for the original series are white as well."
- On top of that, "the director who chose those [white movie] actors is one of the few top-tier Asian American filmmakers in Hollywood, M. Night Shyamalan."