The Daily’s Hannah Freeman exposes whitewashing in the film industry
By Hannah Freeman
Hearing these casting rumours, many fans of the series, as well as MANAA and the East West Players, a prominent Asian-American theatre organization, began to decry the whitewashing, calling out Paramount for this decision. A letter-writing and protest campaign sprung up quickly, marshaled by fans who organized around web communities like aang-aint-white.livejournal.com and racebending.com–the latter of which has gone on to protest other negative representations, like the hate crime scene in recent film The Goods. Commentary on the casting was generally insightful; as fans pointed out, not only will The Last Airbender be an opportunity lost for non-white heroes, it will actively reinforce racist divisions. One fan, who blogs under the name anna and watched the show with her three Asian-American nephews, explained on her blog at ciderpress.livejournal.com, “My nephews will either have to succumb to it or untangle it later in life but they are already being cued to believe, to know that non-white people/PoC [people of colour] have no place as active protagonists in mainstream culture, cultural content, or society. They are being taught that culture, society, and the audience really means white culture, white society, and white audience.” While her nephews and other non-white audience members are generally expected, in their average trip to the movie theatre, to be able to identify with white heroes, Paramount appears to believe that an insufficient portion of their audience would be able to relate to non-white leads, rationalizing their whitewashing of the central characters for what appear to be profitability concerns.
For more on The Last Airbender, see Villains and Losers in Airbender and Get a Tan, Become Asian (or Inuit).