Avatar, The Last White Bender?
image from AvatarSpirit.net
We have some horribly alarming news from Angry Zen Minion Tyler Anderson and AZM Ally Kensei Dave. Please head on over to slash film to take a gander at the casting choices for Aang, Sokka, Kitara, and Zuko for M. Night Shyamalan’s live action The Last Airbender.
Where to begin.
I think it’s fairly obvious that the casting director never watched the show. If he had (and I’m just going to assume the casting director is a guy for simplicity’s sake), he may have noticed the heavy Asian influence of the show. When the casting director approached Shyamalan with his choices, he should have been fired on the spot. Slapped around and then fired. I suppose you could make a decent enough argument for casting Aang as Caucasian. He’s certainly one of the most pale characters in the show. But Sokka and Kitara clearly have some decent tone to their skin color. I’m sure there are some darker toned Asian actors out there who could have fit those roles easily. But the choice that pisses me off more than anything is Jesse McCartney for Zuko. Dante Basco IS Zuko. The casting director and Shyamalan should have done everything in their power to cast him. There are bags of money I’m sure Shyamalan could have thrown at Basco to get him to sign on. Inexcusable.
I give Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko a lot of credit for creating a show featuring characters with ethnic backgrounds that don’t get much representation. Even in the new millennium, there’s a dearth of starring roles for Asians both in animation and live action television. For DiMartino and Konietzko to pitch a show starring non-white characters and for Nickelodeon to air it was quite gratifying. Finally, a show that stars people who kinda look like me. For Shyamalan to ignore the Asianianess, or hell, other worldliness of the characters is so very disappointing. Hey Night, your kids like the show because it stars people who look like them!
It really seems like Shyamalan doesn’t believe in the source material strongly enough to cast non-white actors. That actually kind of hurts. Fans would fill the theaters to see brown people in Airbender! New fans would love to see a movie starring brown people! You’re a brown person! What! THE! FUCK!
If this is the direction it’s going, I cannot and will not support the live-action Airbender. I will never buy a ticket, I will never Netflix it, and if it comes to broadcast television, I will change the channel.