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Well, Fuck You Too, Hollywood.

And M.Night, you really should have fucking known better. I'm gonna cut you some slack and consider the possibility that maybe you didn't have the choice of cast you wanted. Maybe. But holy shit, M.Night, DO YOU NOT SEE HOW ASIANS ARE ALREADY UNDER-REPRESENTED IN HOLLYWOOD? and now, actual roles that could be filled by actual Asians, and Asians are shafted in favour of the likes of the pretty white faces that continue to dominate the world.

Don't give me bullshit about how the Avatar universe ISN'T EARTH and thus ANYBODY can play the characters - the Avatar universe was DEFINITELY inspired by Asian cultures. I don't watch the show, BUT ANY FUCKING IDIOT WITH EYES CAN SEE THAT, OKAY?

And Jackson fucking Rathbone is starting to piss me right off:

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.

Where the HELL do you get off dismissing the major DIMINISHING OF A WHOLE SET OF PEOPLE, Rathbone? How the HELL do you assume that a hairstyle, lack of facial hair and a FUCKING TAN will make you ANY LESS WHITE, ANY MORE ASIAN?

"It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."


Talk about an overinflated sense of entitlement!

(Actually, I was pissed off about this much earlier, but just haven't had the time to articulate myself.)


( 32 Words — Have Your Say )
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
this is a complete load of shit, I swear.. I have NO DOUBT Hollywood is going to fuck up the coolness that IS AVATAR in as many ways as possible before the flick comes out, and casting a bunch of white people in all the key roles is certainly step one and a huge pile of racist crap.
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:48 am (UTC)
That wouldn't suspend my disbelief, it'd hang it.

Jan. 24th, 2009 08:46 am (UTC)
I was hoping that the casting thing was a joke but it seems to be a reality now. And I completely agree with you : FUCK YOU M.NIGHT!!! FUCK YOU BIG TIME!!!! And fuck that little punk who thinks having a tan makes you Asian!

I refuse to see this movie and quite frankly, I hope it bombs. Hard.
Jan. 24th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can see how that is annoying. I remember watching a Jackie Chan movie - I think it was The Myth - and there was one scene where he got a Chinese martial arts stunt guy, put bronzer/tan on the guy and got him to play an Indian guard. That was oh so wrong. But I wonder why no one picked up on that and made a huge fuss out of it. :(
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:53 am (UTC)
The cultural appropriation of Chinese movies is nowhere closely as comparable to the cultural appropriation that uber-white Hollywood does to minority groups. Jackie Chan usually plays a caricature of martial arts already with his specific fighting style.

It would be more weird if this was a very recent movie, because he should by now have contacts into Bollywood so he could cast that role without putting bronzer on a Chinese. However, Chinese films tend to be so low-budget, I can see the reason he wouldn't. Hollywood DOESN'T have that excuse.
Jan. 27th, 2009 07:38 am (UTC)
Well, I checked and it's definitely The Myth. The budget for that movie was around $15M and I'm sure he could have found Indian stunt people for that role so it perplexed me to see a Chinese man with obvious amounts of bronzer that was not put on well playing the role of an Indian. And you don't have to fight like Jackie Chan to be in his movie, I feel.

To be honest, no industry - Hollywood or otherwise (West End and Broadway did it as well) - should be excused from general (Whites to play Asians) or specific (Chinese to play Japanese, Filipinos to play Vietnamese, etc) cultural appropriations. After all, we're not talking about indie productions but films and other forms of media that will generate income or profit!
Jan. 27th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
West End and other types of theatre, I can see it still happening for a while yet until minorities break onto the scene. And some portrayals of minorities in opera and other forms of performance arts are shit scary.......

I put more onus on Hollywood because THAT is the leading film industry at the moment, and other film producers will be looking to it for examplary behaviour. I don't want to excuse other spaces, but they would be more open to change if Hollywood itself wasn't so resistant.
Jan. 27th, 2009 07:38 am (UTC)
Oh...and Gong Xi Fa Cai to you! :)
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
Jan. 24th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
Didn't Hollywood learn anything from that earthsea mess?
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Haha, you used "Hollywood" and "learn" in the same sentence.
Jan. 25th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)
I know, I get these irrational moments sometimes...
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:54 am (UTC)
Do tell!
Jan. 25th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
I'll let the author explain.

Most of the characters in my fantasy and far-future science fiction books are not white. They're mixed; they're rainbow. In my first big science fiction novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, the only person from Earth is a black man, and everybody else in the book is Inuit (or Tibetan) brown. In the two fantasy novels the miniseries is "based on," everybody is brown or copper-red or black, except the Kargish people in the East and their descendants in the Archipelago, who are white, with fair or dark hair. The central character Tenar, a Karg, is a white brunette. Ged, an Archipelagan, is red-brown. His friend, Vetch, is black. In the miniseries, Tenar is played by Smallville's Kristin Kreuk, the only person in the miniseries who looks at all Asian. Ged and Vetch are white.
Jan. 27th, 2009 03:13 pm (UTC)
Oooh. OOowww. Did Miyazaki's treatment do any better, do you know?
May. 27th, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
This is amazing. Thank you for sharing this very much. Been years since I read Earthsea. Time for a re-read.
Jan. 27th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Earthsea got good ratings to Sci-Fi. So no, I doubt they learned a thing.
Jan. 27th, 2009 06:18 am (UTC)
It got awful ratings.
So bad that they don't even re-run it and they stopped production on what they thought was going to be an inevitable sequel.
Jan. 27th, 2009 06:19 am (UTC)
Really? Awesome. But I really wonder what lessons, if any, the Halmis and/or Sci-Fi took away from the whole thing.
Jan. 25th, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
While not about Hollywood, Kelly Tsai has something to say about the representation of Asians during the American campaign season.
Jan. 25th, 2009 09:50 am (UTC)
I have a link to that in my post on Rev. Lowery's speech actually.
Jan. 26th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
did u know rathbone himself was born in an asian country? singapore?
Jan. 26th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, in that case hes perfect to play an asian character.
Jan. 26th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
was trying to point out the irony, but okay.
Jan. 28th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC)
I'm Singaporean. And I'm more insulted than ever.
They could have gone to Singapore, seriously, the media industry is dying for its big break, and many of us are quite so very sick of seeing Jack Neo films (they're just very large commercials with plotlines and a bit of Singaporean culture humour thrown in) as our one saving grace. Pretty much all of us speak English (the older people I'm not so sure, though I've seen a couple of aged people with a rather good command of English), and none of us are getting breaks from the rest of the world in a good long time, excepting this guy called Royston Tan (the true one saving grace in film, his film 881, about singers during the Hungry Ghost Festival, was submitted for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It failed. But it got somewhere.), and Fann Wong (the only Singaporean actress to enter Hollywood. You may remember Shanghai Knights).
Point, Hollywood should look further. But they won't. Because they think they can survive on whatever's in their backyard.

Mar. 14th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
*fellow Singaporean fan*

Shanghai Knights was part of the orientalist trend, though - white guys like Asian chicks; Asian = gongfu; Asians don't speak English. I did like Kevin Tong's The Maid.

But yeah. It reeeally pisses me off to see other commenters elsewhere saying they read the animated characters as white. Nowai.

1) "Oh, but they look white."
No, they look Asian, in an anime-influenced style. White is not default.

2) "Oh, but they sound white."
No, they sound American - given that they used a US voice cast, everyone who's been in the US for long enough would sound American (heck, a lot of English-speaking Singaporeans sound American, so much so that I could barely understand British/Australian TV shows at first). American is not equivalent to white.

3) "Oh, but it's based on Asian culture, the actors don't have to be any particular race."
Even if the latter point is true, why is white the casting default? And considering how heavily LotR, for example, was "based" on on Anglo-Saxon culture, transplanting it into the Indian subcontinent would never have worked; but making the Avatar world white will work?

I'm soooo sorry for ranting here too (no real need for preaching to the choir! ;)), but I find it so aggravating that a lot of people cut-and-paste their own background onto this show. I mean, I doubt you'd find any Asian viewer who saw the characters as anything but Asian (or Inuit, for the Water Tribe; I'm not sure, being Chinese, but me and my friend who is Indian considered them to definitely be South Asian, though Inuit viewers doubtless think the other way. Not white, in any case).

Mar. 14th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
No problem.

Although I must admit, Shanghai Knights scored points with me for having a kick-ass female character who fights her way out, despite being constantly captured.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 27th, 2009 03:17 pm (UTC)
I see no high Aryan cheekbones on Sokka. I fail to see how this would be any true portrayal.

Even with Rathbone getting a tan, that's still a HUGE cognitive dissonance going on.
Feb. 5th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
Tropic Thunder
So, if a white man should just tan himself, he'll automatically be "colored?" So if a chinese man should just dye his hair blonde, he can act in the OC? And if a black man should go Michael Jackson's route, he can play Bush in W? Is your imagination strong enough that this is all it takes to convince you of an individual's ethnicity???
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Tropic Thunder
Your privilege is showing. Just because the characters "don't look white", it's still not necessary to pump in whiteness in there. Just because you feel the show seemed to be about "non-Asian" characters in an Asian setting doesn't automatically mean the default is white. For many of us, we defaulted to, yes, Asian people, because it's in an Asian setting. It's bizarre to essentiallize the characters as white within what is clearly an Asian setting.

For minority people who are more or less constantly edged out of big film projects like this, it *does*, in fact, make sense to cast PoC.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Tropic Thunder
For many of us we don't think about it because we've never been confronted with it (which is why I said, your privilege is showing - it is very privileged to not feel alienated by these everyday things). If you look at many films and the casting involved, very often, the default experience assumed of the audience is "white straight male". To the point where when there're main characters who don't fit into that group, it becomes a "non-mainstream" movie, because it's apparently expecting a lot to ask the audience to identify with a non-male, non-white, non-straight character.

I haven't been following this issue so I don't know whether Shyamalan is in charge of casting, but I do remember being rather peeved with Lady in the Water which quite brilliantly had a huge cast of minorities, but the main hero was still a white male. It's these little things which remind PoC that no matter how numerous we are, we still remain second-class and don't deserve stories of our own.

Thanks for not getting on the defensive and up in arms. It's probably an issue you've never had to think about before, so thanks for your good faith.
Jun. 24th, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC)
Rathbone, dude, honey, "suspension of disbelief" is for time travel and monsters, not issues of race that can be easily fixed by casting the right person.
( 32 Words — Have Your Say )