Fuck You, "Last Airbender"; or: If You Go See M. Night Shyamalan's Minstrel Show, You Suck

Most everything I have to say about The Last Airbender was pretty much articulated in my monologue, "21 Reasons Why This Movie Already Sucks," the central piece of my show, Jukebox Stories: The Case of the Creamy Foam, in 2008. (Read the piece in its entirety here.) That monologue detailed how Hollywood whitewashed an Asian-American story, setting the API community back years, decades even.

Well, it's 2010, and it's happening all over again—with South Asian director M. Night Shyamalan at the helm, no less. The original animated series' Asian and Inuit lead characters are now being played by white actors in the live-action adaptation. Caving to pressure, Shyamalan did cast one ethnic lead—Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel plays the bad guy.

The Los Angeles Times recently dissected the controversy in a much-circulated think piece, but I think award-winning graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang breaks it down best in this succinct comic strip (click to enlarge):

You know how much I absolutely hated those Twilight movies, but on July 4th weekend—when my entertainment dollar will speak for me—I am willing to give my money to Eclipse if it means sinking The Last Airbender into the sea of box office failures.

Look, I don't wish ill upon anybody (for the most part), but I do dig the fact that Airbender is tracking poorly. It could be coincidence, but I'd like to think all the hubbub that's been created is partially responsible. So I'm going to keep hubbubbing, and I hope you'll join me in saying, "Fuck you, Last Airbender."

For more information, go to Racebending.com.

(Thanks to Angry Asian Man and Howard Ho.)


  1. Thanks for this. You officially changed my mind about seeing the movie.

    Since I work all the time and have an almost-six-year-old, I wasn't paying attention to the film, except the release date. My guy LOVES the cartoon, so I figured we would go. Now we are NOT going, and I will explain why when he protests. I'll let him have an "Avatar" marathon or something to make up for it.

  2. God I love Gene Luen Yang. American Born Chinese was an instant classic.

    And you are right! This is bullshit! This would be like having Matthew Broderick play Luke Cage!

  3. Annie, I'm glad you're coming to the rescue just in time! Yes, yes, yes, marathon it!

    Isaac, well...Matthew Broderick's eyes are a tad bit squinty....

  4. I'm a huge fan of the cartoon and I've been boycotting this thing ever since I heard about the casting. (Before he got Dev Patel as Zuko, even.)

    My daughter (sixteen) is boycotting it too.

  5. Prince - saw your 21 Reasons monologue on a racebending post, and have immediately added you to my blogroll. Brilliantly done. And thanks for the link to the wicked cartoon.

    Single-digit on rotten tomatoes says it all. The only shit-sucking part is, Hollywood will blame the failure on having too many Asians in the background, and probably try remaking it with added whiteness. :/

  6. Rosehiptea, you and your daughter are as hip as rosehips!

    CaitieCat, thanks a lot! Solidarity! :)