January 22, 2009

Get a tan, become Asian (or Inuit)

Hollywood can't seem to stop making racist casting decisions. Here's more on the latest example:

'Twilight' Star Jackson Rathbone Hopes To 'Show His Range' In 'Last Airbender'Due in theaters in summer 2010, "Airbender" has already begun to face a bit of controversy over the casting of white actors like Rathbone, Ringer and McCartney to play Asian characters—a concern the actor was quick to dismiss. "I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan," he said of the transformation he'll go through to look more like Sokka. "It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."Some comments on this quote:Lxy wrote:

Forget about a tan, Jackson Rathbone should just tape his eyelids like those White actors who played Charlie Chan did.

Yellowface minstrelsy is alive and well in “post-racial”/”non-racist” America.

Sara wrote:

Because you know, Asians are just like white folks except they have a slightly darker skin color.
Comment:  Needless to say, these comments apply to the Inuit characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender too. Similar comments apply to the casting of Johnny Depp, Taylor Lautner, Lynn Collins, et al. as Indians.

A hat tip to Avatar:  Get a Tan, Become Asian at Racialicious for bringing Rathbone's racist comments to our attention. Visit that site to see the outraged responses.

For more on the subject, see Comparing Cultures in Airbender and Racist Casting in Airbender.

Below:  "Yeah, I'm playing an Eskimo. If you need someone to play an Asian, hire my buddy Taylor Lautner."


dmarks said...

I always remember Sean Connery in the Bond film "You Only Live Twice". He was made up to look Japanese, but in my view, he did not look Japanese at all, but instead looked like an old "Star Trek" Klingon (the ones from before they had horseshoe-crab foreheads).

modest-goddess said...

He needs to be fired from the movie for making such a racist comment but I know that will never happen.

dmarks said...

And just about all he managed to do in "Twilight" was look stoned.

Cami said...

I'd just like to point out that Rathbone is actually playing one of the Inuit inspired character, Sokka, from the Water Tribe, as is Nicola Peltz, not the Asian inspired characters (as would be those acting as Aang and Zuko... basically, Jesse McCartney and Noah Ringer).

Otherwise... Full steam ahead! Great post, and thank you for bringing this to the attention of more people!

Rob said...

Thanks, Cami. The Racialicious posting didn't make that point clear.

For more on the subject, see Hollywood's Version of Inuit.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add, Rob, that some people behind the Racebending movement didn't seem to have strong reservations when Tinsel Korey was outed for not being Native but of Asian-Indian descent. I guess they believe it's okay for non-Natives to take on Native roles just so long as it isn't white people because as we all know, brown folks all look the same, right? Let me get this straight: Rathbone, a non-Native, takes on the role of, not an Inuit but Inuit-INSPIRED character in a fictional world that does NOT take place on Earth. Outcries up the wazoo. Korey does the same thing only this time she's portraying a fictional character based on an actual existing Nation (Quileutes) whose culture and NAME are even used IN the book. And all was silence, for the most part. Do I sense a bit of hypocrisy coming from the racebending folks?

Anonymous said...


Forgot about the link, sorry.