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Old April 3 2010, 01:34 PM   #31
Dusty Ayres
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Dennis wrote: View Post
Dusty Ayres wrote: View Post
Shyamalan has a duty to make sure that the movie's just like the show-period.
No he doesn't.

Making any creative endeavor exactly like something else is a waste of time and effort.
Sorry, but if he adapts a TV show that features people of colour as the main characters, then he has a responsibility to cast actors of colour in all of the primary roles. This is whitewashing on an epic scale, done mainly to placate white America into buying tickets. And it comes from a person of colour himself.

Check out how people of colour are feeling about this here: Race + Fandom Roundup: M. Night on Airbender, and Tales of Two Amandas

And here: Avatar:Get a tan, become Asian

The white cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender

On Avatar, casting, and other such matters (AKA why doesn't Hollywood have a clue?)

This Matters: Avatar The Last Airbender’s Friky Diky Cast

Avatar: The Last Airbender Culture Comparison*

*Here's the video to go along with it:


Check out all of the comments in each link, and then come back and tell me that this movie is going the way it should.
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Old April 3 2010, 02:25 PM   #32
Christopher
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Dusty Ayres wrote: View Post
Sorry, but if he adapts a TV show that features people of colour as the main characters, then he has a responsibility to cast actors of colour in all of the primary roles.
He has a responsibility to try, yes. But trying doesn't guarantee complete success. Ideals are things to be striven for, but they can rarely be entirely achieved. You can try your best to cast inclusively but still not be able to meet your goals, because there are a lot of other factors you have to balance.

Here are some cogent comments from writer-producer Zack Stentz (Andromeda, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fringe, Thor), who is himself Lebanese-American, by the way:

http://www.exisle.net/mb/index.php?s...post&p=1303771
I'm very sympathetic to diversity in casting, both for ethical reasons and practical ones (particularly when you're casting soldiers or other people who dress alike, it can be really difficult for audiences to tell characters apart if they're all the same ethnicity.)

But I've also spent time actually casting projects, and it's really easy to throw stones at someone for not casting the "correct" ethnicity or believing that he or she just didn't look hard enough when you haven't done the job yourself. Because the simple fact of the matter is that for a lot of reasons, the talent pool you have to work with is different sized for different ethnicities, ages, and degrees of able-bodiedness. And you simply have a lot more choices if you cast a character as white (or to a lesser extent, black) than if you limit yourself to Asian actors.

That doesn't mean you should[n't] try your hardest and press your casting director to beat the bushes and look beyond the usual suspects for potential candidates. But often times directors look at literally hundreds of candidates for an important role before finding the right person for it, and the difference between almost right and right actor can be narrow but critical in the success of a project.

So again, while diversity is a laudable goal and should be pushed for hard, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a director claiming that he or she had to look beyond a preferred ethnic category to find the right actor.
I don't have a problem in principle with individual characters being cast by actors of different ethnicity. I didn't have a problem with Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, Dean Cain as Superman, Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, or Bernie Casey and Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. I don't have a problem with the new Sulu being Korean instead of Japanese, the new Uhura being Afro-Latina instead of African-American, or the new Spock being Italian instead of Ukrainian.

So I can live with the characters in The Last Airbender being of different ethnicities than the ones in the cartoon, as long as the casting process makes a fair effort to be inclusive -- as long as people of all ethnicities are free to compete on an even footing and be selected on the basis of their merits rather than their appearance. Equal opportunity isn't about guaranteeing success, it's about guaranteeing a fair chance to compete. And as long as the process is fair, the results should be acceptable, even if they fall short of our hopes.

And overall in this movie we've got mixed-ethnic Air Nomads, East Asian/African Earth Kingdom, South/Southwest Asian Fire Nation, and Caucasian/Russian Water Tribe -- I think that's reasonably inclusive for a film cast in the United States. (They could've done better if they'd cast it in Asia, but finding enough really good actors fluent in English would've been a problem.) It's just as diverse as the animated series, just with the specifics coming out differently. Maybe it doesn't seem that way as much in the first film where the focus is more heavily on Aang, Katara, Sokka, and the Water Tribe, but in the next two films we'll see a lot more major characters from the Fire Nation (Azula, Mai, Ty Lee) and Earth Kingdom (Toph, Bumi, Long Feng, the Earth King), so that will balance it out more.

In fact, it could be argued that excluding white actors from consideration altogether would be just as bad as excluding nonwhite actors. The goal should not be to meet some quota for each race. The goal should be to cast fairly.
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Old April 3 2010, 03:41 PM   #33
Dusty Ayres
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Once more, I concede your point.
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Old April 3 2010, 05:52 PM   #34
Joel_Kirk
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Christopher wrote: View Post
Dusty Ayres wrote: View Post
Sorry, but if he adapts a TV show that features people of colour as the main characters, then he has a responsibility to cast actors of colour in all of the primary roles.
He has a responsibility to try, yes. But trying doesn't guarantee complete success. Ideals are things to be striven for, but they can rarely be entirely achieved. You can try your best to cast inclusively but still not be able to meet your goals, because there are a lot of other factors you have to balance.

Here are some cogent comments from writer-producer Zack Stentz (Andromeda, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Fringe, Thor), who is himself Lebanese-American, by the way:

http://www.exisle.net/mb/index.php?s...post&p=1303771
I'm very sympathetic to diversity in casting, both for ethical reasons and practical ones (particularly when you're casting soldiers or other people who dress alike, it can be really difficult for audiences to tell characters apart if they're all the same ethnicity.)

But I've also spent time actually casting projects, and it's really easy to throw stones at someone for not casting the "correct" ethnicity or believing that he or she just didn't look hard enough when you haven't done the job yourself. Because the simple fact of the matter is that for a lot of reasons, the talent pool you have to work with is different sized for different ethnicities, ages, and degrees of able-bodiedness. And you simply have a lot more choices if you cast a character as white (or to a lesser extent, black) than if you limit yourself to Asian actors.

That doesn't mean you should[n't] try your hardest and press your casting director to beat the bushes and look beyond the usual suspects for potential candidates. But often times directors look at literally hundreds of candidates for an important role before finding the right person for it, and the difference between almost right and right actor can be narrow but critical in the success of a project.

So again, while diversity is a laudable goal and should be pushed for hard, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a director claiming that he or she had to look beyond a preferred ethnic category to find the right actor.
I don't have a problem in principle with individual characters being cast by actors of different ethnicity. I didn't have a problem with Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, Dean Cain as Superman, Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, or Bernie Casey and Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. I don't have a problem with the new Sulu being Korean instead of Japanese, the new Uhura being Afro-Latina instead of African-American, or the new Spock being Italian instead of Ukrainian.
We also have:

*Jake Gyllenhaal as a 'Persian' in the upcoming Prince of Persia

*Characters in the Dragonball film being changed to white characters, etc...(Similar to what is going on in Airbender).

*Ving Rhames as Kojak

*Danny Glover as Philip Marlowe

*Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin in Daredevil

*Will Smith as Jim West in Wild, Wild, West

*Years ago, Tim Burton was thinking about having Marlon Wayans as Robin for one of the Batman films.

Granted, some of these films or tv shows I sited sucked; usually, if the film is good, you won't have much said about the characters and the changes.

And, I didn't know Spock was Italian...I thought he was Vulcan?

And Uhura is African-American? (I thought she was African?)

Not every black person is African-American, Christopher...

So I can live with the characters in The Last Airbender being of different ethnicities than the ones in the cartoon, as long as the casting process makes a fair effort to be inclusive -- as long as people of all ethnicities are free to compete on an even footing and be selected on the basis of their merits rather than their appearance. Equal opportunity isn't about guaranteeing success, it's about guaranteeing a fair chance to compete. And as long as the process is fair, the results should be acceptable, even if they fall short of our hopes.

And overall in this movie we've got mixed-ethnic Air Nomads, East Asian/African Earth Kingdom, South/Southwest Asian Fire Nation, and Caucasian/Russian Water Tribe -- I think that's reasonably inclusive for a film cast in the United States. (They could've done better if they'd cast it in Asia, but finding enough really good actors fluent in English would've been a problem.) It's just as diverse as the animated series, just with the specifics coming out differently. Maybe it doesn't seem that way as much in the first film where the focus is more heavily on Aang, Katara, Sokka, and the Water Tribe, but in the next two films we'll see a lot more major characters from the Fire Nation (Azula, Mai, Ty Lee) and Earth Kingdom (Toph, Bumi, Long Feng, the Earth King), so that will balance it out more.

In fact, it could be argued that excluding white actors from consideration altogether would be just as bad as excluding nonwhite actors. The goal should not be to meet some quota for each race. The goal should be to cast fairly.
That's one point of view. I'm pretty sure, depending on the ethnicity, background...you have various points of view on the subject.

You're right, it can be argued. However, as we see there are still casting issues going on.

I saw a film at my school directed by a visiting independent gay Asian-American filmmaker called 'Fruitfly' not too long ago. A lot of what this filmmaker put in his film possibly would have been changed to make it 'marketable' if this was a studio film...i.e. tone down the gay aspects, give the Asian female lead a white boyfriend, change the Asian characters to white, etc....

On the other hand, you have other films such as Our Family Wedding which (despite if it's good or not) feature a cast of primarily Latin performers with African-American performers. Too, whenever we see an 'interracial' film...it usually is with a white character and a non-white character.

I personally found (and have heard in discussions, and read in articles) that Asians are usually deemed as 'foreign' so it is usually claimed that there can't be Asian performers found....which is obviously ludicrous. (I almost spelled that 'Ludacris')....

We've had the film Better Luck Tomorrow which featured a predominantly Asian-American cast, directed by Justin Lin who went on to direct Fast and the Furious sequels...

So, I guess my point is, there are still strides to be made....
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Old April 3 2010, 06:42 PM   #35
Christopher
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Joel_Kirk wrote: View Post
And, I didn't know Spock was Italian...I thought he was Vulcan?

And Uhura is African-American? (I thought she was [I]African?)
I'm referring to the actors, not the characters. Leonard Nimoy is from a Ukrainian Jewish family, while Zachary Quinto is of Italian-Irish heritage. Nichelle Nichols was born to a Chicago-area family, while Zoe Saldana is of Dominican and Puerto Rican parentage (though she was born in New Jersey). The point I'm making is that the same character can be played by actors with different ethnicities from one another.


So, I guess my point is, there are still strides to be made....
And I agree with that completely. Remember, up until last week, I was one of this BBS's most vocal protestors of the Last Airbender casting, because it looked to me like it was the result of unfair and ethnically biased hiring practices. But Shyamalan's explanation of the casting process, and Zack Stentz's words corroborating how difficult it is to meet a goal of casting inclusively, have reassured me that, while the results in TLA may not be as ethnically diverse as we'd hoped, at least it doesn't seem to be the result of active bias in this particular case. I'm all for continuing the fight for inclusion, but going after the wrong people just wastes effort.
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Old April 3 2010, 08:09 PM   #36
Joel_Kirk
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Christopher wrote: View Post
Joel_Kirk wrote: View Post
And, I didn't know Spock was Italian...I thought he was Vulcan?

And Uhura is African-American? (I thought she was [I]African?)
I'm referring to the actors, not the characters. Leonard Nimoy is from a Ukrainian Jewish family, while Zachary Quinto is of Italian-Irish heritage. Nichelle Nichols was born to a Chicago-area family, while Zoe Saldana is of Dominican and Puerto Rican parentage (though she was born in New Jersey). The point I'm making is that the same character can be played by actors with different ethnicities from one another.
Yes, Christopher...I am aware of the actor's backgrounds....

I was being sarcastic in my previous post...


So, I guess my point is, there are still strides to be made....
And I agree with that completely. Remember, up until last week, I was one of this BBS's most vocal protestors of the Last Airbender casting, because it looked to me like it was the result of unfair and ethnically biased hiring practices. But Shyamalan's explanation of the casting process, and Zack Stentz's words corroborating how difficult it is to meet a goal of casting inclusively, have reassured me that, while the results in TLA may not be as ethnically diverse as we'd hoped, at least it doesn't seem to be the result of active bias in this particular case. I'm all for continuing the fight for inclusion, but going after the wrong people just wastes effort.[/QUOTE]

Fair enough....
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Old April 5 2010, 02:35 PM   #37
exodus
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Christopher wrote: View Post
FordSVT wrote: View Post
Mako was the only person of an Asian ethnicity who did voice acting for the series...
That's untrue. Dante Basco (Zuko) is Filipino-American. Other ethnically Asian cast members in recurring or guest roles include Jennie Kwan (Suki), Sab Shimono (Monk Gyatso/Master Yu), Takayo Fischer (Lo and Li), George Takei, James Sie, Brian George, Clyde Kusatsu, Keone Young, Lauren Tom, Brian Tochi, Kim Mai Guest, James Hong, Tsai Chin, Derek Basco (Dante's brother), George Cheung, and Karen Maruyama.

The character in the cartoon does not look Tibetan or Chinese. For reference, here is Aang:



Here are some Tibetan children.

In animation, large round eyes are a signifier of youth. Look at the child versions of Zuko and Azula in flashbacks, and they have the same kind of large round eyes. Within the graphical language of the animation design style being used, yes, Aang looked just as Asian as every other child character in the series. (For one thing, that image you're using isn't accurately colored. Aang's complexion isn't so pink: http://images.absoluteanime.com/avat...ang%5B2%5D.jpg )
Wide eyes are also done in anime to show the character is White too.
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Old April 5 2010, 02:51 PM   #38
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

exodus wrote: View Post
Wide eyes are also done in anime to show the character is White too.
No, wide eyes are done because they are youthful, expressive and are considered attractive in Japan, they are not supposed to show that are character is white.
Of course a white character will be drawn with wider eyes, but the ethnicity is usually flat out stated in the dialogue (if the story isn't set in europe to begin with), because the eyes or haircolor are not an indicator.
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Old April 5 2010, 03:10 PM   #39
exodus
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
exodus wrote: View Post
CaptainCanada wrote: View Post
Because that isn't true.
Nothing against you personally but I think I'll put my trust in actual Asians that that say it is.
What about all the Asians who say it isn't, and have been protesting this?
Thank god they have you & Christoper.
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Old April 9 2010, 01:58 PM   #40
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Re: Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

My one remaining concern about the Last Airbender casting has been addressed. The "smoking gun" that disturbed many people was a casting document that asked for "Caucasian or any other ethnicity" for the lead roles -- not excluding other ethnicities, but suggesting a preference for Caucasian actors. That was the one bit of evidence that seemed to conflict with Shyamalan's recent statement that they cast without any prior ethnic preference in mind.

Now the film's producer Frank Marshall has released a statement clarifying what happened:

http://www.ugo.com/movies/frank-mars...ng-controversy
Marshall further writes that he “agree[s] that this casting notice was poorly worded and offensive. However, it was not written nor distributed by the production, or the studio, but by a local extra casting entity that did not consult with either. "Ultimately, we all take responsibility for not doing a more thorough job monitoring these frequently used third-party agents and Paramount has since been in regular dialogue with Asian American advocacy groups including the Japanese American Citizens League and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans to ensure that such a mistake does not happen in the future.”
He provided copies of the original casting breakdowns, which indeed make no mention of ethnicity. One of the casting fliers that does mention a preference for Caucasians can be seen here:
http://io9.com/5512941/who-sent-out-...ducer-responds

This reassures me that the people in charge of the production "get it" when it comes to inclusion, even if others with more peripheral involvement don't. Though I still have to wonder why it took them so many months to clear this up.
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