Thursday, July 1, 2010

Critique of The Last Airbender: Floating World (FacePainting)

Floating World (FacePainting)

For the most part, I agree with this article. I too find it ridiculous and blatantly racist that the lead for The Last Airbender went to an unknown white actor. I have to say, though, I found two aspects of the analysis flawed. The first was very insulting, and was this sentence:

Americans have a long standing history of playing other ethnic minorities, starting as far as 1829 with the play “Metamora."

"American" does not equal white. It never has, and that's institutional racism, pure and simple. I'm half white. I am all American.

The second was the argument that because The Last Airbender was done in English, this implies the leads are white. The article takes this as a serious argument. It's not. English isn't just for the English anymore. There are more English speakers in India than there are in England, so it's a dumb argument. Period. That, I feel, should have been added to the other analysis in the article.

But, sad to say, this article and ones like it needed to be written. I will not be going to see The Last Airbender. I agree. It's yellowface, blatant and inexcusable.


  1. I read the article, and I have to say...they have a point...and then they don't. Did they go a little to caucasian...maybe, sure...I'll concede that. But, check out the cartoons...what race are they supposed to be? They could potentially be any MIX of several races. The huge eyes, the blue/green/yellow eyes...I mean, if they were arguing for a completely asian cast on this, it might also trip my what-thuh-ometer.
    I mean lets face it...racial lines are blurring. You'd never guess I had American Indian blood in me...and yet...I do. I wish it would all happen faster, then no one could pull the "race" card. Most especially the you-don't-know-what-it's-like-to-be-discriminated-against card. Hasn't EVERYONE been discriminated against at some point? Too old? Too young? Too fat? Too thin? Too blonde? Too short? Too tall? We've all experienced it to some degree or another.
    While I agree there is a certain line at which it crosses in to deliberate race prejudice...I like to think those are more often than not arbitrary coincidences. Chances terms of simple mathematics...the majority of those who auditioned were caucasian. Which increases the likelihood that the perfect candidate was also caucasian. Just a thought as I stay up WAY past rational thought, and my husband snoozes away.

  2. Hmm, the casting call requested caucasians, and I don't believe that the article plays the "you don't know what it's like to be discriminated against" card. I read this article as lambasting the white bias in Hollywood, which does still exist. I mean, why on earth would you specifically request whites to play the leads in Airbender? How many Asian superstars can you name, and before you say that's a result of who's auditioning, what roles would said Asian superstars have been eligible for?

  3. Daniel Dae Kim. Hottest actor ever!! And you're right...he is not cast in nearly enough movies...or anything, really. I just like to look at him. *swoon* Don't tell Matt. :) I first saw him on a Star Trek TNG episode and fell in love. When Lost came out I was THRILLED that they cast him. But, I guess it kind of made your point that he actually had to learn an asian language to play the part. Sad.

  4. Yeah, there are successful Asian actors, but as a percentage of all actors, it's still small. I'm sure people can name a few dozen though, i.e. Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Parminder Nagra, etc. etc.

  5. But mostly Daniel Dae Kim, right? His hotness is not to be denied or usurped...except maybe by Taylor Lautner, but saying he's hot makes me feel like a pedophile. And...he's not asian...SO, I just hijacked your post for my own drooling.
    I'd be quite happy with many more minorities to drool over in cinema...damn Hollywood!

  6. lol! I never watched Lost (I know, I know, bad Los Alamos High grad, not watching Drew Goddard's show...) or any of the Twilight movies. I might get the rifftrax for Twilight and watch it that way :-)

  7. M.Night Uses Reverse Psychology

    The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael's book, Sync My World: Thief's Honor GA SK. (

    Air = Yellow "race" = Males = Scholars.

    Water = Small Browns = Females = Shamans.

    Earth = Blacks = Lesbian = Social Ubuntu Business Class.

    Fire = Whites = Gays = Military, Militant Business Class.

    Ether or Metal = Big Browns = Bisexuals = Working Class, Bi-military
    (females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males).

    Therefore Aang should be Chinese.

    Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.

    The Earth Kingdom should be African.

    Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.

    The Fire Nation's army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.

    And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.

    This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.

    But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?

    Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.

    But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:

    1) Clearly, when people don't play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. "male" clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)

    2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).

    3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fit the role of Lucifer or Satan.

    4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.

    Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it's called sunyata or "emptiness."