April 13, 2010

Results matter in Last Airbender

More on the casting controversy noted in Shyamalan Defends Airbender Casting:

Frank Marshall:  “We did not discriminate against anyone.”Last week, Frank Marshall released “original” casting documents for Paramount’s The Last Airbender film to UGO.com. He announced that a third-party “local extra casting entity” inserted the “Caucasian or any other ethnicity” casting breakdown language that was used in August 2008 on the production’s official audition materials–including the website and fliers–as well as on Actors Access and other casting call databases.

Marshall calls the casting language “poorly worded and offensive” and writes that Paramount and the production “take responsibility for not doing a more thorough job monitoring these frequently used third-party agents.” He also reports that Paramount has been “in regular dialogue” with Asian American advocacy groups “to ensure that such a mistake does not happen in the future.”

Almost a year ago, Marshall dismissed repeated fan concerns about a discriminatory bias within The Last Airbender’s casting process: “The casting is complete and we did not discriminate against anyone. I am done talking about it.”

A year later, comes Marshall’s justification: The production didn’t “intend” to discriminate–and these documents, pulled from the producer’s private files, are the proof.

Unfortunately, Marshall again misses the point. This isn’t about the “intentions” of the production--it’s about what actually happened: The production’s concrete actions.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Hollywood's Cultural Conservatism and Whitewashing Natives in Last Airbender.

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