Shyamalan talks about AIRBENDER's "racebending" issues

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Christopher, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You're mistaken.
     
  2. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    No, the Asians (and people of other races who share their concerns) who've been protesting this. Such as this guy.
     
  3. FordSVT

    FordSVT Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Mako was the only person of an Asian ethnicity who did voice acting for the series, do you see any conflicts there? Were the creators racist and short sighted? Is it about giving fair representation to asian actors or is it purely about the way the movie LOOKS? Because if it's about the way the movie LOOKS, the kid who is playing Aang looks EXACTLY like the cartoon. The character in the cartoon does not look Tibetan or Chinese. For reference, here is Aang:

    [​IMG]

    Here are some Tibetan children.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. CaptainCanada

    CaptainCanada Admiral Admiral

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    1) Voice-acting isn't the same as playing in live-action; creators often do try to cast minority voices for minority characters, but it isn't the same.

    2) The art thing has been discussed before; it's anime-style. The Air Nomads are quite clearly modelled on Tibetans. Younger characters in anime usually have that sort of look; older ones (such as the Airbender Elders) are drawn more realistically.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.

    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/avatar_the_last_airbender/aang[2].jpg )
     
  6. Dusty Ayres

    Dusty Ayres Commodore

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    Like how you and everybody else got pissy at how Alan McGee called Paul McCartney a hack two months ago? :rolleyes:

    Shyamalan has a duty to make sure that the movie's just like the show-period. Anything else is bullshit on his & Paramount's parts.

    OTOH, just because he got a little overexposed & overpraised, doesn't mean you have to bust him up like that.
     
  7. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Commodore

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  8. Dusty Ayres

    Dusty Ayres Commodore

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  9. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No he doesn't.

    Making any creative endeavor exactly like something else is a waste of time and effort.
     
  10. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Commodore

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    Then you should have left out the "you and everybody else" because it has nothing to do with me. I don't appreciate you implying that it did.
     
  11. Dusty Ayres

    Dusty Ayres Commodore

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    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:
    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBda7b9tRdk&feature=player_embedded[/yt]

    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.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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=&showtopic=63922&view=findpost&p=1303771
    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.
     
  13. Dusty Ayres

    Dusty Ayres Commodore

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    Once more, I concede your point.:vulcan:
     
  14. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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...:p;)

    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...:shifty:

    So, I guess my point is, there are still strides to be made....
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2010
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.


    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.
     
  16. Joel_Kirk

    Joel_Kirk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, Christopher...I am aware of the actor's backgrounds....

    I was being sarcastic in my previous post...;)


    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....;)
     
  17. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Wide eyes are also done in anime to show the character is White too.
     
  18. Takeru

    Takeru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  19. exodus

    exodus Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Thank god they have you & Christoper.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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-marshall-clarifies-key-issue-in-racebending-controversy


    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...asking-for-caucasian-actors-producer-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.