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My opinion on The Last Airbender's casting

This is a letter that I'm going to send to the producers as soon as I can get my hands on a stamp... ETA: And the parents approve. This makes me very happy. They gave me some advice on the letter and address.

To Kennedy & Marshall:

Hi. As I’m sure you already know, you’re making a movie right now, and some fans have a problem with it. I am one of them.

Your movie is called The Last Airbender. It is based on an animated television series called Avatar: The Last Airbender. The protagonist of this series is Aang, a young boy who hails from a culture called the “Air Nomads”, which greatly resembles the Tibetan Buddhist monks. He makes friends with Katara and Sokka, a boy and a girl with light brown skin from the Southern Water Tribe, a culture that greatly resembles the Inuit tribe. They are being chased by Zuko, son of the emperor of the Fire Nation, which greatly resembles Japan or China during their Imperialist eras, and Iroh, Zuko’s uncle who has a strong Japanese accent and plays Pai Sho, which greatly resembles Mahjong. The characters fight each other with Asian martial arts techniques. They pass by text written with Chinese characters. They eat Asian food with chopsticks and wear Asian clothing and have Asian names.

The last sentence of that paragraph is supposed to be “so it is no wonder that the main characters were portrayed by a central Asian boy, a Native American girl, a Native American boy, a Japanese boy, a Japanese old man, and so on.” But it’s not, because that’s not what happened. No, what happened was that “But this movie was made in Hollywood, by conservative American directors, so it is no wonder that they found it much easier to simply hire some Caucasian actors, and to find a few actors of other ethnicities to play the evil and morally ambiguous characters.”

One of the most significant aspects of Avatar: The Last Airbender is its conspicuous use of Asian cultural themes. Removing that aspect is similar to casting a white man as Frederick Douglas and a black man as the slave owner, on the grounds that you are being “colorblind”, and that it doesn’t matter what race the characters are. But it does. It tells us that the white man is the hero and the man of color is not, and that is racism however you slice it.



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