“Putting the cauc back in asian”

racebending.com complained about the whitening of the characters of the movie version of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

On December 9th 2008, the lead roles were cast for M Night Shyamalan’s upcoming film The Last Airbender and all of them were originally cast as white actors.

The Nickelodeon show “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” on which this film is based, featured Asian characters in a fantasy setting inspired and informed by a variety of Asian cultures. The characters fight with East Asian martial arts, have Asian features, dress in clothing from Asian cultures, and write with Chinese characters. The cast and setting were a refreshing departure from predominantly white American media, and were a large part of the show’s appeal as well as an inspiration to many Asian American children.

They also (hum) opened a shop at zazzle.com where they reiterated their complaint

Based on the Asian-influenced animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, the movie has now cast three white actors to play lead, heroic Asian or Inuit characters. The fourth white actor cast as the lead, antagonist role had been hastily recast, thereby effectively contrasting three white heroes – existing in an Asian-based fantasy world – fighting an (overall) evil brown nation. The production made a choice. That choice sent a clear message:
“American Children of Color: You are not good enough to play the hero, even if that hero shares your ethnicity.”

and offered for sale protest t-shirts, that had, for example, the words: “The Last Airbender: Putting the Cauc back in Asian”, which they had to take down due to copyright violations (see account of that here and a few more motifs). I don’t really think that glockgal (?) has reason to complain, it’s quite transparently a trademark issue, and she’s selling shirts, FFS. But the bigger issue, which is well illustrated by looking at who was whitewashed and who not (see link above or picture here) is troubling, especially since it demonstrates how little, as a culture, we’ve learned, how little we’ve internalized instead of just paying lip service to humane thinking. It is quite frustrating that so many discussions on important issues are structurally (and partly also on the level of actual phrases and formulations) identical with discussions that we had 40, 60, 100 or 200 years ago. And, sometimes, as with amazonfail, a public manifestation of the encrusted hate proves to be the last straw.(via boingboing)

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