Does The Last Airbender Casting Have you Worried?

Since the announcement of the primary cast of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender this morning, there has been a lot of mixed reaction.  Not only are people saying negative things about Mr. Shyamalan, but they’re also saying that the creators of Avatar wouldn’t have chosen these particular characters.  They’re also commenting about the color of the characters’ skin as compared to the cartoon.

For those that missed it, here is the cast list:
Aang – Noah Ringer
Sokka – Jackson Rathbone
Katara – Nicola Peltz
Zuko – Jesse McCartney

For those keeping score at home, this is the only casting that has been done so far.  It does not mean that they have finished casting the film (as one slightly ignorant young fan had thought), it just means that they are announcing the first cast members to be signed.

As for the world of Avatar, there are a few things that we must keep in mind.

First: the characters are not all Asian.  I repeat.  The characters in the world of Avatar are not all Asian.  It is set in a fantasy world with fantastical creatures and locations.  The people of that world can be as multicultural as the casting director and creative team want them to be.  This makes for a much larger feeling world, and that’s not a bad thing!

M. Night Shyamalan isn’t doing the casting alone.  There’s a whole team of casting professionals, and there are things that they can see in actors that we tend to miss in our own limited views of the actors.

Let’s give the actors chosen a chance.  I wish them well in bringing our favorite characters to life in this upcoming trilogy, and look forward to seeing the first pictures of them in costume that will inevitably hit the web by next July!

98 Comments

  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!

    i’ve been saying this all along!!!

    there is no race in Avatar! it’s a fictional (amazingly written) story, so deal with it! Leave the actors alone, if u had been chosen to play the part of Aang would u be saying “How can they choose white people to play them?!” –NO! you wouldn’t! so just live with it and at least give them a chance!

    and Jesse McCartney isnt even signed yet! the interview says

    “Jesse McCartney, meanwhile, is NEGOTIATING to play …the Fire Nation’s evil prince Zuko” he’s not confirmed yet

  2. Then why are a majority of the negotiated main roles for Caucasian actors?

    Sure, as long as the intention and characterization is alright then the story is saved. But…
    But now that the door may be closing towards a multi-cultural cast, minority viewers may not be able to feel that characters from an otherwise “non-european” influenced fantasy world have characters..that FOR ONCE…looked a bit like them.

  3. This is awful. These are Disney actors and they’re supposed to play serious, mature parts involving issues about martial arts, philosophy, and existential identity? Night screwed this up and this is going to suck.

    I was a huge Night fan, but I don’t know what’s wrong with the guy. He turned The Green Effect (potentially his best script) into the garbage that was The Happening, blew $60 million on Lady in the Water, and now is going to screw up one of the best animated series to come around in a long time.

    A few years ago, I might’ve given him a chance, but this is too much.

  4. “The people of that world can be as multicultural as the casting director and creative team want them to be. This makes for a much larger feeling world, and that's not a bad thing!”

    And yet they don't pick a single person to portray that feeling instead they white wash all the main characters.

    I am hoping this is casting for the Ember Island Players portion of the movie.

  5. “And yet they don't pick a single person to portray that feeling instead they white wash all the main characters.”

    I haven't seen what Noah Ringer looks like yet. Also, there are plenty of characters, and there are still more characters that can be considered “main” characters. Who they've cast are the three companions and the villain of book one. And nothing more, so far.

    Remember, the Water Tribe is kind of like Eskimos. There are plenty of reasons for choosing who they choose. I am betting they have chosen the people that best fit the role that they're casting for. And remember, Night is collaborating for the first time ever. He's collaborating with the creators of Avatar on the script and story and whatnot.

    Let's not degrade ourselves to pre-judge a movie based on our own pre-conceptions of what the movie may or may not be like. Let's remain optimistic until we've seen the final product.

    Remember, the movie isn't the TV show, and could never be. It's going to be its' own thing. As far as I know, this is the first time in history that a cartoon is being adapted to the big-screen. It's going to be like a book to screen translation, only like taking 440 minutes and cutting it down to only 150 minutes of movie time.

  6. Well said Specter. 🙂

    I think you are approaching this situation very wisely.

    I like to think that the producers, casting director, and Night are evaluating the actors on how well they can act, and how well they will be able to portray the characters written for them by Mike, Bryan, and Night — and not purely based on their skin color or their likeness to a cartoon character.

  7. It's not just that these actors are more talented, its that (more so in Jesse McCartney and Jackson Rathbone than the other actors' cases) have built up enough of a name for themselves that the studios and everyone else who works for these actors are hoping to sky rocket their careers. That and because their names are somewhat recognizable they are hoping to get more people to come see the film. It's not just a talent issue. If there was someone who was just as talented, non-Caucasian, and was very well know, they most likely would cast them.

  8. The main human characters are Aang, Zuko, Katara, Sokka, and Toph.

    So far they turned the tan characters white and they made Zuko a teen pop star.

    The only way to save this is to have Vin Diesel as Toph.

    If it's going to be bad let it be craptastic, it's on it's way

  9. Some of the people posting are taking the “race” issue a little to seriously. I have been a fan of Avatar since the fist episode and I am also an Asian American (Vietnamese to be precise). The fact that the first four actors announced are white doesn't bother me at all, in fact Jackson Rathbone looks a lot like Sokka. With everyone always so concerned about being PC, why don't we not worry about race and focus on this great cast that will bring the characters of Avatar to life like never before. And there is no reason to insult M. Night, he is a great director and he wouldn't even be doing this film trilogy if he didn't feel passionatly about it.

  10. Someone's taken this too far….

    Would anyone have believed that Elijah Wood could have pulled off Frodo before seeing The Lord of the Rings? There are many times that actors have pulled through on roles that they don't seem suited to in the slightest. It's something that doesn't happen until someone is given a chance. Let's give them a chance to prove themselves to us.

    P.S. Thanks Dr. Crowe, much appreciated! I'm trying to keep this positive!

  11. “As far as I know, this is the first time in history that a cartoon is being adapted to the big-screen” -Specter

    You obviously were not paying attention when The Simpson's movie was released then.

  12. I absolutely disagree. I think finding actors who looked similar to the characters they are playing should of been the first priority. How are the fans supposed to connect with the movie when the main cast doesn't look and feel like their animated versions. We fell in love with the animated TV series. It's hard enough to watch Avatar turned into a live action movie, but to have the cast look nothing like the main characters is extremely disappointing. Also, the age difference between the actor playing Sokka and the one playing Katara is too great.

  13. The only thing I'm disappointed in is the water tribe kids being white. People who live in the Artic, due to the way they live and the diet they maintain, have dark skin. Casting white people for those roles feels kinda silly to me. It can work, but unless every Inuit actor that tried out was awful, I think the casting is missing some flavor. *shrug*

    They had better be amazingly awesome actors, then. Or… I dunno, maybe makeup can work some wonders.

    I'm still looking forward to the movie because the show was so good, but the more news I hear the more worried I get.

  14. Now I can't vouch for the acting abilities of this bunch, but from looking at their pictures on slashfilm.com they look very convincing. Rathbone is spot on for Sokka in my opinion. I can see Nicola Peltz as Katara as well. Both do in fact look very young. Honestly I didn't even think about the color of their skin if there hadn't been this big uproar about it, I don't really think like that. Animation is a form of expression, its presentation is not going to translate literally to real-life. People are too concerned about the details. As long as they can act the part, and their character itself doesn't change, that's what counts.

    As for M Night directing, he's always had an impeccable cast in all his movies except the Happening (which I choose to ignore). I'm sure all these picks are very capable. M Night brings a depth, style and characterization that no other director can do. Avatar is in safe hands.

    PS check out the clip of Mccartney in Law and Order, when he breaks down. He really isn't half bad.

  15. Arguing “How are the fans supposed to connect with the movie when the main cast doesn't look and feel like their animated versions.” is a flawed argument if you ask me.

    If the movie has to hark back to the animated series to make you feel connected to the characters, the movie is probably failing on so many levels.

    I think it would be a sign of great film-making strength if the movie can conjure those type of connections even though there is no direct, extreme visual similarity.

    ——

    Also, Rachel, I think there are some flaws with your argument. People who live in the Arctic do not necessarily have dark skin. It really has to do with ancestry and migration in some cases. A lot of indigenous peoples in the arctic circle have ties back to central Asian origin.

    In contrast, take the Saami in the Nordic regions of Europe. The skin tone of many of the Saami is lighter than my own, and I am white. Most geneticists would make the point of arguing that the Saami people are not necessarily of Siberian or Asian ancestry. Could that be the reason for the lighter skin tone, and not the environment?

    I don't think it is as clear cut as you are making it.

  16. You know, if they're not going to use any Asian actors, they might as well just drop the whole Asian cultural theme of “Avatar” and go with generic pseudo-Medieval schtick like everyone else. Because if everyone is Caucasian in the film, having all the Tibetan and Inuit and Chinese and Korean and Japanese imagery just isn't going to make any sense.

    Heck, let's just drop the who element bending thing and give'em all swords while we're at it.

  17. That's not entirely valid, though. Remember: Avatar is not set in our world. It is set in a world much different from our own.

    If it were set in our world, where'd all the crazy creatures come from? I think having the strange animals in it were meant to let us know that, despite cultural references, the show is largely a cultural-amalgam. And they've only cast FOUR roles, if that. Everyone's panicked and making final statements when there are only four cast members covered. Sure, they're the most important ones, but it'll be the rest of the cast that will give the world its' overall feel.

  18. ^lol, ew. But I agree with the last statement.

    ———

    “If the movie has to hark back to the animated series to make you feel connected to the characters, the movie is probably failing on so many levels.”

    So wait, if the movie tries to make the characters *look like the characters they're based on*, it fails?

    …Seriously, if you're going to say “screw the source material,” why work from one in the first place?

    Darn it, you made me think of something cute: Appa the two-headed orange tabby kitten. ^___^

    “People who live in the Artic, due to the way they live and the diet they maintain, have dark skin.”
    “People who live in the Arctic do not necessarily have dark skin.”

    Either way, the point isn't “Arctic=darker skin,” it's “*these characters* have darker skin.” For all I know, there could be people in the Arctic who are so black they'd make Don Cheadle look like the snow surrounding them. They wouldn't be right for the parts, either.

    Ultimately, we don't want “well, there are light people in the Arctic too, so they can play these characters.” We want people who look like the characters they're playing.

  19. I meant I agreed with Julie's last statement. Anyway:

    “Animation is a form of expression, its presentation is not going to translate literally to real-life. People are too concerned about the details. As long as they can act the part, and their character itself doesn't change, that's what counts.”

    Darn it! You made me think of odd things. Imagine: David Spade as Toph (David Spade Earthbending… yum :9), Will Smith as Sokka, Tom Cruise as Aang, Mary McCormack as Katara, Jason Isaacs as Zuko, and Whoopi Goldberg as Iroh. 😀

  20. I think this about sums up what most fans are REALLY thinking: “give us Avatar fans a full length movie about what happens after Aang defeats the firelord.”

    While they're working on a live-action translation of the story we've all seen, fans don't want a retread of the same story. We want new things. I believe that some of this frustration comes from the fact that we don't know what's next for Avatar. Will there be a new series? Will there be something else entirely from the creators? We don't know that, and that's part of the frustration.

  21. “Darn it! You made me think of odd things. Imagine: David Spade as Toph (David Spade Earthbending… yum :9), Will Smith as Sokka, Tom Cruise as Aang, Mary McCormack as Katara, Jason Isaacs as Zuko, and Whoopi Goldberg as Iroh. :D”

    Haha Kth, I think you might have taken my comment a bit to the extreme. By details, I mean skin color, height, hair color eye color, many of these details can be changed via costume design and shot angles. As long as they look young enough to act the part and feel like they portray these characters accurately, that's what counts.

    Regardless, M Night has a unique style and I don't see this movie translating as is to the big screen. I expect it to be a darker more serious adaptation, but will still incorporate the complicated characters and rich fantastical world. Whether that's good or bad remains to be seen. It WILL be different than the show. That's how most book or tv shows translate to the big screen. There's no getting around that. It's just something people will have to accept.

  22. However it plays out in my opinion if the movie doesn't pan out well and make money, it will most likely not make it to movies 2 and 3. It will probably fall to the way side like Eragon and The Golden Compass series. I liked both movies but that is probably because I didn't read the books.

  23. “While they're working on a live-action translation of the story we've all seen, fans don't want a retread of the same story. We want new things. I believe that some of this frustration comes from the fact that we don't know what's next for Avatar. Will there be a new series? Will there be something else entirely from the creators? We don't know that, and that's part of the frustration.”

    I was Ok even excited about the idea of a live action version of the avatar. Maybe it could have been like the Harry Potter movies. But for the Harry Potter movies they made sure to pick kids who embodied the characters, they looked a lot like the characters and where British. Sure an American child actor probably could have played the part but they went and where respectful of the book.

  24. Now with casting the main characters as white people they are pretty much throwing out one of the major appeals of the show, the cultural diversity.

    Now I will be honest, I was not at all happy with the choice of director because I fear for how appa and momo will turn out and the special effects but I was willing to give it a shot. But if they decide to stick with this all White cast for the main characters and have the audacity to make Asian and the Inuit character side characters or have them as background actors then I will not be supporting this movie with my money.

    For those who are not happy with the casting, there is a letter writing campaign that is hoping to change this. As soon as I get home I am writing my letter.

    http://aang-aint-white.livejournal.com/646.html

  25. “Let's wait until we see the actors in costume until we judge how they'll look in the film.”

    Still not convinced

    Can I have some black face with some yellow face on the side please.

    How bout scrap the live action and give us Avatar fans a full length movie about what happens after Aang defeats the firelord.

  26. Everyone is SO fixated on RACE as a part of this thing.

    WAHT ABOUT THE MARTIAL ARTS!

    I would say it takes about a whole year or SERIOUSLY INTENSE training to become
    a part of the cast for this movie!
    I mean, JESSE McCARTNEY DOESNT KNOW NORTHERN SHAOLIN KUNG FU.

    (FYI:
    Air Bending:Ba Gua
    Water Bending:Tai Chi (OR liu He Ba Fa)
    Earth Bending:Hung Gar (Kung Fu)
    Fire Bending: Northern Shaolin Kung Fu

    And there is no way in hell Jesse McCartney could hack it in a Chineese Acadamy Like Si Ping MAA for a ful year.
    Let alone the fact that the little 12 year old boy doesnt even know Wushu (for those know nothings out there, Wushu is Plainly, martial arts, But it only includes chineese martial arts, Like Tai Chi, Hung gar, Baji Quan ect. NOT KARATE DO)

    I mean, i HOPE that this director isn't that much of an idiot not to hire martial arts coreographers and the luike to train them in the right styles, but he still should have chosen actors that have a martial arts back ground.
    Not stupid ALL whhite hollywood celebrity starlets that ahve been on lots of kiddie/Disney movies.
    (Albeit Twilight is an AWESOME movie)
    Has it Accured to the director that he's not that white himself.
    Specially with a last name like Shyamalan Lol.

  27. I so agree with the comment before mine about the martial arts,a nd about the race thing.

    WE NEED BALANCE people.
    Yin Yang And all that jazz =]

    If you Have seen the Dragon Ball Z trailer, it's not actually fake.
    All the actors are highly trained in the martial arts.
    But they are ALL asian, they then look nothing like their respective charactors, and to complement this, the director of that poor poor movie, decided to make the movie something that is not, and now it will become a complete faliure to DBZ fans and a lack lustre hit for non fans.

    Making this an ALl caucasion cast is a msitake.
    One of the many great qualities of the
    Avatar:TLAB is the multicultural aspects of it.

    Please Mr. Shyamalan, if you are reading this, (which yur probably not)
    Take into consideration ALL of this feed back from not only me, but the otehr fans who are hping to dear god your not just doing this to make a quick buck.
    We love avatar, and will sooooo officially dis own your movie and make our own if we ahve to.

    which is an Idea.

    If were all really bitchy about this avatar cast, why dont we make our own cast?
    (Or make our won movie!)

    [email protected]

  28. Whether they know Martial Arts or not, that sort of thing is easy to get on film, and make it look good. I'm sure they'll hire great Martial Arts Choreographers. Just look at The Matrix for example: Keanu Reeves doing Martial Arts? I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it.

    Think about it like this: Anyone that trains in acting is probably not going to be well trained in Martial Arts, and anyone well trained in Martial Arts is probably not going to be well trained in acting.

    This show is very much a character driven show, and the martial arts can be trained with intensive work. That will happen. Trust me. And honestly, how many actors can truly say they know Northern Shaolin Kung Fu?

  29. There are plenty of actors taht have trained in Wushu (chineese martial arts)
    The whole foundation of the bending arts is the fighting stle.

    And Keanu reeves wasnt doing martial arts…It was all wires.
    Which is really sad if you think about it.
    I LOVED the cahracter that played trinity (she rocks my socks) and Naiyobi and Ghost, real amrtial artists.
    Keanu reeves was jsut cast in that spot cause hes cute, and looks awesome in a trench coat and sun glasses.

    BUT this is about avatar!

    Please PLEASE PLEASE dont be a major faliure!
    I love Avatar, and am currently researching a way to water bend by somehow magnatising a mass amount of concentrated electrons found in lake water in the antartic because of all the statc taht happens when teh ice rubs together.

    I agree with fiesty kid.
    I reckon al of us disgruntled fans from around th world, should take a look round and make our own movie.

  30. If you really think that Keanu's martial arts was all on wires, you really don't know the Matrix very well. (I also run a small website called MatrixFans.net, by the way.) Keanu spent months and months training every day to be able to do the fighting that was required of him. They all trained.

  31. I know I know, but it still didnt look very authentic.
    You cna train and train and trian till the proverbial cows come the F*** home, but at the end of the day it comes down to how it is filmed and presented.

    I still cant see Jeese McCartney doing fire bending.
    Hes too…fluffy.
    Id Like to See nicola peltz though as katara.
    Shes such a sweet girl.
    I recon she could also benifit from
    Taiji Chuan training for Katara.
    Katara Is my favorite!
    So shed better not mess it up.

  32. Oh, I'm definitely willing to give the actors a chance, but seriously don't try and tell me that you honestly believe they didn't whitewash this production.
    I never thought of all the characters being Asian. They had a chance to bash stereotypes and create a movie with Caucasians, Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos, but they decided to go with what was marketable. After all, Hollywood IS a business. So don't be condescending. Some of us do want to give them a chance, but we are disappointed with a team that knows how to take risks decided to play it completely safe and ignore the wishes of an entire fan base.

  33. I’m not being condescending at all. I am merely suggesting that we do not make this whole thing about race. If that’s the direction that we move in as fans, then we’ve lost sight of the multicultural aspects of Avatar, and we’re only basing our final judgment on what is only the first four cast members. We’ve chosen to chastise the creative team before we have seen an inch of film. I’m not blaming you for wanting what you want, but believe me when I say, I’ve seen fans up in arms many times. Prince Caspian is a 14-15 year old Mediterranean, the actor that played him was 26 and British. It turned out perfectly fine.

    I am not going to get myself in a tizzy over four cast members of the whole thing.

  34. What are you views on the multicultural aspects of Avatar? What exactly is multicultural about it in your opinion? I'm just curious?

  35. The race issue doesn't bother me at all. What I'm concerned about is hiring a kid who has never acted in his life, simply because he is well trained in martial arts.
    The action/fighting should come second to the story and characters, if we have a main character that can't act very well, then the film is in trouble.

    I'm trying to be positive, but I feel as though M Night has dropped the ball with his last couple of films (I was SO disappointed in The Happening), I'm hoping that he can get his game back with this Avatar film.

  36. “only the first four cast members”

    Other then Toph they are the main characters. It's not just 4 cast members it's the main characters that are all white washed.

    There is a huge difference between a Mediterranean vs British to Asian vs White kids

    I could see it being picky if it was us complaining about a Korean or a Philippine being picked over a Chinese Actor but they are White, western and white.

    Don't minimize the effects that Blackface and Yellowface have.

    http://shakingfist.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/mryunioshi.jpg

    DBZ movie 2.0, another straight to DVD movie if they keep this up.

  37. To be multicultural is to celebrate different cultures for who they are. But remember: although Avatar has martial arts, chinese writing and clothing, etc.. it's not like it can't have people of other races playing roles.

    I'm going to step aside from this. I suppose that I, even as a super fan myself, just don't see what a big deal it is.

    I don't believe it's a “white-wash.” I won't buy into that idea until the entire world of Avatar is nothing but white american actors.

  38. People are all uppity about the racial thing, but what if no actors who looked like the characters came in to try out, or the ones that did look like the characters sucked?
    I mean, so what if it looked exactly like Aang if he always spoke in a monotone. Would you prefer acting or looks?

  39. So although Avatar has martial arts, chinese writing and clothing, etc, the world in which they are portrayed would be like the residents of New York City (just an example because they are so culturaly diverse) displaced and teleported into a fairy tale resembling some where in asia and wearing asian inspired attire? Hold on a 2nd I'm trying to picture it! Hmmmmm! Oh yeah that'll work! yeah ok whatever!

  40. Answer for Reno: I would prefer them not to make the movie at all then.

    Answer for Dr. Crowe: Chinese release will be in chinese of course. So no worries there.

    Can anyone tell me why they remake asian horror movies to fit american audiences? Is there something wrong with the originals?

  41. THis Is geting rediculus now.
    Were all going to extremes.

    Specter: Theese are the FOUR main characters.
    Who will be in the story for the whole three movies (if it even gets that far.
    ALL FOUR should not be American Actors.

    Mr. Shyamalan has picked out an all american cast so ar.
    there IS no cultural iversity there.
    Givven that America IS a melting pot, its mostly white caucasion people that in habit it.

    I WISH he would cast for eople in other countries. (Non english speaking too)

    Like Australia, or Ireland, New Zealand, Wales, South Africa, Japan, Mexico, Argentinia, Israel.

    Thre are many great actors that can fit the role much bettr than if it were JUST white american actors.

    Also, if the four main characters DO accept the role of their characters, then who will the OTHER characters be?
    In the second movie (because this is going to be a trillogy or sum thing like that remember?) Shyamalan might realise his mistake, and then what?
    he cant get an entire new cast!
    He'll have to stick with white acotrs, adn white etras, and white everything.
    He aint so white himself ya know.

    Its either that OR scap the whole thing.

    My Ideal Actors for this movie:
    Aang: -14 year old white boy
    Sokka: -15 year old native american
    -15 year old hispanic boy
    Katara:
    -16 year old Native american/Hispanic girl

    Zuko: -18 Year old Chineese guy
    -16 Year old australian
    -17 year old korean dude

  42. “The Simpson's Movie wasn't an adaptation of the storyline of the series. It was a separate entity.” – Specter

    ok then what about the Dragonball movie? This is not new territory.

  43. I'll say.
    ive already commented about DBZ before.
    but still, this is exactly waht avatar is going to be like (even though im praying to every known diety and god its not) exept in opposite forms.
    all white, and no action

  44. “ok then what about the Dragonball movie? This is not new territory.”

    Again, that's a component of Dragonball, not a remake of the series. Same with Speed Racer. That wasn't a condensed version of the cartoon series either.

  45. Has everyone forgotten about THE JOKER?

    Everyone was PISSED when they announced Heath Ledger for the role…and he turned out to be one of the most amazing characters of all time.

    How about we let the professionals do their job, and us audience do ours.

    Good Luck with production Shyamalan!

  46. “Everyone was PISSED when they announced Heath Ledger for the role…”

    I don't recall being PISSED off. Guess I am not included in everyone.

  47. Personally, I think they should've chosen different ethicity people based on nation:

    Air Nation: white people or tibetians
    Fire Nation: Chinese or some form of Asian
    Water Nation: Inuit people
    Earth Nation: Mongolian or Central American people.

  48. Wow, yes, epic fail on the casting for Katara (and potential for Sokka). With all the problems minorities have getting roles in HOllywood from there being a lack of roles…:
    http://www.backstage.com/bso/news_reviews/other_news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=100352925
    3

    Two roles that could have gone to minorities if only based on looks…end up going to white people. Right, because there are NOOOOO minority actors/actresses in the world that have acting ability to pull these characters off. Out of hundreds of minority mixed children dreaming of being actors with actual talent, they couldn't find TWO non-white actors for katara and Sokka? REALLY? Methinks they didn't look far enough. (Then again they did hold auditions in Texas…Texas. Ya know where all serious aspiring actors go to launch their acting careers? /sarcasm)

    Thank you Hollywood for once more failing to reflect the diversity in this country.

    One more film in Hollywood with all the leading roles being offered to white people. Because clearly, there are NO minorities that can do a good job in a leading role. (Just good enough for supporting roles. RIGHT…)

    • the world of avatar is not the same as ours. Why would you expect it to be? nationalities could have evolved differently.
      Dont forget that the director is indian

  49. While I appreciate your desire to support M. Knight's latest project, the whitewashing of the characters — and possibly the world — of Avatar is not okay.

    If any of you are offended by the decision to cast white actors in the roles of explicitly Asian and Inuit characters who inhabit an explicitly Asian and Inuit world, you can do something about it here:

    http://aang-aint-white.livejournal.com/646.html

    If you don't understand why people are upset and offended, numerous blogs and essays have already been written on the topic, including:

    http://vejiicakes.livejournal.com/240740.html

    http://glockgal.livejournal.com/375625.html

    http://theangryblackwoman.com/2008/12/10/m-night-say-it-isnt-so

    http://www.angryasianman.com/2008/12/white-cast-of-avatar-last-airbender.html

    http://vagabond-sal.livejournal.com/142204.html

    This kind of thing happens because people let it. Educate yourself, question the status quo, take action to help keep it from happening again.

  50. I would like to see some movie shorts made by different directors artists similar to Animatrix except in live action or CG. In my opinion have Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou (Curse of the Golden Flower), Shen Xue Bing Gao Hong (Flyer Daggers) or Feng Xiaogang (The Banqeut or Legend of the Black Scorpion american release), or Rob Minkoff (Forbidden Kingdom)

  51. to say that this world is not inhabited by Asians is preposterous. Every one of the extra segments on the DVD show that the creators paid INCREDIBLE attention to the detail of the different aspects of Asian Cultures. Different and ACCURATE dress, martial arts styles, and etc. NOBODY on the show had blonde hair. Their eye colors were indicative of their bending abilities. Believing animated characters are suppose to be western because they have large expressive eyes is indicative of an ignorance in animation techniques and styles. If that wasn't a clue what about the NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS. Most of them are VERBATIM Asian names. I even have a friend named SOKKA, yes his real name and he is Asian. This is amazing. We're not taking the race thing too seriously either, because if we don't our culture will be misrepresented as it has ALWAYS BEEN AND CONTINUES to be by Hollywood.

  52. you make the assumption that the world is not Asian, or not all populated by Asians. By stating this alone you have already supported what we're trying to say, because all the leads went to white people. So does that mean they're all white. This is what the creator of the show said—”Well, Bryan had worked with Eric Coleman, the head of development at Nickelodeon, and we knew that Nickelodeon was looking for a [particular fantasy] kind of show, so we kind of took that directive and set about creating our own mythology. And we wanted to base it in Asian rather than European background, and use the elements; to use martial arts as kind of the basis for the magic in the show”

    here's the link to this article

    http://www.animationinsider.net/article.php?articleID=841&document=2

  53. Well I think that if you were in his situation you would also produce a small nick film here and there so go to another site ur gonna b hatin!! :angry:

  54. Your assumptions about the world they inhabited are just that assumptions. If you would read up on how the creators of the show came about storyline and such you wouldn't be saying this thing. You mentioned earlier let's wait till we see them in costume? So did you know most of the costumes of the show weren't just influenced by Asian styles, THEY WERE EXACT COPIES of clothing worn by many Asians TODAY ceremonies, birthdays, weddings and other occasions. If the world was suppose to be SOOOO MULTICULTURAL why were there NO EUROPEAN traits or references throughout the ENTIRE SERIES. Why is RACE a NON issue when only casting movies involving characters of color? RACE IS ALWAYS AN ISSUE when casting Superman, 007, Batman, Spiderman, and so forth. Superman's an alien why can't he be black or Asian. Gotham City is not a real place. It's a made up fantasy world. No one in real life dresses like a bat, but it's pretty evident Bruce Wayne is WHITE! THEY NEVER ACTUALLY SAY IT IN THE COMIC. Do these things sound familiar. It is the same rhetoric your stating on your website about why this cast is all/or mostly white. EARTHSEA, DRAGONBALL, CHARLIE CHAN, Genghis Kahn, Atilla the Hun, are just some of the projects where people of color were automatically made white while Superman, Batman, 007, King Arthur and other traditionally white characters and historical figures have ALWAYS remained the same. That is the source of everybody's anger.

  55. I'm sorry for the tone of my last post. My anger may have been a little too vehement. Listen all we're saying is this. Avatar was the first American cartoon that took the time to study Asian culture and really take great detail in not lumping the entire race into one culture. It was excellent at showing the beauty of eastern society. Regardless of whether or not you believe the actual people of this world are to be Asian, one thing for certain everything else about that world was Asian. It wasn't just influenced it was as evident by the literal buddhist quotes, clothing that was verbatim Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, all the way down to eating utensils. This on top of the fact MOST characters Asian actors get to play are stereotypes, and even those roles are scarce. Did you know the number of Asians in film and tv actually went down from the 70's to the present. On top of all this, the image itself is, in my opinion, a negative image for children of all races to see as it reduces east Asians to nothing but background roles. With all this in play, I hope you can understand some of our anger.

  56. i don't like the tone some of you are taking. i am shocked to see people are accusing others of being ignorant and racist.

    how awful.

    🙁

    • I agree. Does everything have to be about race? It’s just as wrong to complain someone got the part because they are white than didn’t because they aren’t. They are both equally ignorant and racist remarks. I understand the argument fully but one doesn’t make the other ok.

      Sad

  57. if zuko is played by a caucasian then iroh will have to be played by a caucasian, which makes absolutely no sense. iroh cannot be a caucasian.
    as for katara and sokka, i really don't mind them being caucasian as long as the majority of the water tribe is inuit-esque. in other words, not every in the water tribe needs to be inuit. a couple, like katara and sokka, can be caucasian.
    same with aang and the air nomads. i don't mind if aang is caucasian as long as the majority of the air nomads are asian.
    and obviously the most diversity can be found in earth kingdom. but toph is going to have to be asian. after all, her last name is Bei Fong.
    but again, zuko needs to be asian. and the majority of the fire nation should be asian. but jason isaacs, the voice actor for zhao, should play zhao in the live action movie. i think he would be good for the part.

  58. On fires2 comments 2 above…

    Regarding your casting above, it is a bit problematic when Toph, Aang, Katara, and Sokka go to the fire nation and go undercover. If the majority of the Fire Nation is asian then how do they blend into their environment during that part of the story? Taking that into consideration all the nations should be close to each other in ethnicity in order for this portion of the story to be believable. If Sokka and Katara are white and the rest of the tribe is inuit-esque types were they adopted? Was Katara and Sokka’s father and mother really their parents then? If Aang is Caucasian and the rest of the Air Nomads are asian, was he adopted? Now to be fair, reverse the ethnicities.

    Kudos to holyasiandude and specterisnotignorant for bringing up some valid points with actual logical arguments.

    This link was posted by GotRice in the Airbender Casting Forum…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rK5jTZYccT4&feature=channel_page

  59. 21 the Movie Controversy
    Although the main characters upon which the film 21 is based were Asian-American, studio executives determined that “most of the film's actors would be white, with perhaps an Asian female.”

    Supporters of the decision to cast Jim Sturgess as Ben Campbell claim that producers simply sought the best actor for the job, regardless of race. Ultimately, this meant passing over many Asian-American talents in favor of London-born Jim Sturgess, who required a dialect coach to speak with an American accent.

    Nick Rogers of The Enterprise wrote “The real-life students mostly were Asian-Americans, but 21 whitewashes its cast and disappointingly lumps its only major Asian actors (Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira) into one-note designations as the team's kleptomaniac and a slot-playing “loser.”

    Posters calling the film racist could be seen in New York's Chinatown.

    Jeff Ma, who was the real-life inspiration for the character Ben Campbell, was accused of being a “race traitor” on several blogs. In response, Ma said, “I'm not sure they understand how little control I had in the movie-making process; I didn't get to cast it.” Ma said that the controversy was “overblown” and that the important aspect is that a talented actor would portray him.

  60. Here's the thing. Sure the world of Avatar isn't our world. But here's something which destories the argument of those who say casting white people for katara and sokka is ok.
    If there was a cartoon mythology based on african culture and because of the magic, it was clearly not our world, does that mean when you make a movie about it that you'd hire white people to act on the subject matter which is based on african culture? or reverse that. If there was a cartoon mythology based on british culture and history, if you turned it into a movie, would you get africans to play the main characters.
    It think the respectful thing to do is to hire people to play the characters who actually have something to do with the source culture the mythology is based on.

    If someone was going to make a movie about World War II, when the Japanese invaded Pearl Habour, can you imagion if they cast Japanese to play Americans? And Americans to play Japanese?
    That movie would be such a joke.
    It would make no sense.
    The same applies here.

  61. David you wrote “If there was a cartoon mythology based on british culture and history, if you turned it into a movie, would you get africans to play the main characters.”

    yeah they did this it was called Lord of the Rings and that didn't have ANY recognizable minority people in it at all, and the funny thing is everytime I mention it in any of the forums I have only gotten one response. Some moron said the races of the people were well established in the book, as if the same was not true about tv show. People will pull all kinds of things out of their but to justify their prejudice which is absolutely amazing.

  62. I'll give karate boy a chance, I'll give that girl a chance, and I'll even give Twilight guy a chance, but no way I am giving that girly boy Jesse McCartney a chance. No one can tell me he's a good actor, I saw Summerland. I love Night, but I still have to say WTF are the casting directors thinking? Though this is great publicity for it, since any publicity is good publicity. But you shouldn't possibly ruin a movie just for publicity.

  63. I'm sorry to see that so many people are fixated on race that all they saw when they watched Avatar was the skin color, ignoring personality and character. I'm going to give the actors a chance to prove they can convey emotions and portray personality before I bash them.

  64. Someone asked if anyone could imagine Elijah Wood as Frodo.

    I say, yes. I saw him in a movie called Ellis Island on TV. He was probably about 9 or so. Not even a year before that, I saw the Animated Lord of the Rings. When I saw Elijah, I told my dad that he was so cute and would make a good Hobbit. Years later, he plays the lead role in the LOTR Trilogy. Yeah. I should be a casting director.

  65. I am responding to this late, so please forgive me. I have a suggestion. Before stating what the characters from the animated series are or are not, please reach out to the creatives who developed the show, and ask them to clarify.

  66. First, take a close look at the leads as they are drawn: Do they look explicitly ethnic to begin with? If Aang and the others were drawn that way to start, it might be more of an issue, but in truth, they were not drawn in such a way that emphasized their being non-white.

    Second, consider the need for somebody who can act, first and foremost, and secondly, somebody who can stand up to the rigorous physical demands of all the stuntwork.

    Without the explicit necessity of casting by ethnicity, you're faced with the greater necessity of getting actors who can meet the technical challenges.

  67. One thing that we have to keep in mind, that many seem to have forgotten, is that the casting directors opened up the role of Aang to all ethnicities. It wasn't like they were doing that, and only going to cast an all-white cast. They were looking for the best candidate for the role. Someone that embodies the character of Aang in a way that isn't merely skin-deep. That is verifiable.

    The rest of the cast is an unknown in that regard, but if we judge the decision based on the method of casting Aang, they must have been looking for the same thing for the rest of the cast. Another thing to keep in mind is, if they cast someone in the role of Katara, they have to cast someone that can realistically be her brother. It would have been strange to have an Asian Sokka, and an American Katara. I have a feeling that, once they had found someone that could pull off either of the roles, they had to look for someone that matched the other in physical appearance, at least as far as siblings are concerned.

  68. Race matters so much in this movie its not even funny!! If race didn't matter than kids wouldn't b trying to kill who ever casted those ppl!!! I think its a lie saying they cant find any asians i have like 3 asains as like my bffs and they're amazing!! They can act and fight really well!! So screw that lie!!! Also Zuko could b anybody except 4 Jessie M., or Zac E.!!! what were they thinking when they casted these ppl!!! I think racsim has something behind this whole thing u may not c it but its somewhere behind this all!! Oh and if u think racsim not around it is im not tryin to be racist at all but the whole movie seems to b unfair to all races!!Which is why this movie is goin to be a mess!! Good luck M.shamalayn ur goin to need it!! :angry:

  69. “Do they look explicitly ethnic to begin with?”

    Zuko does to high degree, and Iroh is even more obvious. Katara and Sokka does. Aang does look asian just not as much, and Toph looks chinese(although in her case not as explicit).

    “If Aang and the others were drawn that way to start, it might be more of an issue, but in truth, they were not drawn in such a way that emphasized their being non-white.”

    Yes they were. The one character that seems the most “western” in looks would be Jet… and if you can't see this: [No valid img specified]http://i485.photobucket.com/albums/rr214/aang_aint_white/ep10-88.png[/img]

    Is an asian dude, you need glasses.

  70. Here's the thing about encouragement to “stay optimistic” about the casting decisions.

    Anyone who has ANY familiarity with:

    – Hollywood's/American mainstream media's long and shameful historical collusion of racism and commerce
    – the practice of blackface (discontinued today)
    – the practice of yellowface and brownface (somehow not discontinued today)
    – the practice of tightly controlling what it meant in to “look” like a non-white character for past decades in American film (see, for instance, Rita Moreno in “West Side Story”–an actual Puerto Rican actress playing a Puerto Rican character was made to wear “brown” makeup because she didn't look like what studio execs thought Puerto Ricans /should/ look like)
    – the fact that in popular American media, “Avatar” stood ALL alone in embracing a non-Eurocentric culture set and, MOREOVER, treated it as a -norm- rather than a foreign element
    – the knowledge that the point above is very, very, very, VERY rare in popular American media

  71. [continued from above]

    – the practice of exoticism and Orientalism (and we assume here that “Avatar” would NOT count as Orientalism because as mentioned, the Asian elements are treated as a norm rather than treated as an “Other” or “exotic”–and if you think it DOES, then that leaves the question of why you believe that to be a pardonable, or preferable, canon)
    – the fact that a vast majority of popular American media is Caucasian/Euro-centric already
    – knowledge that the chances of movie roles not even written for ANY particular ethnicity are stacked against underrepresented minorities being cast, because even for ethnically neutral roles Caucasian or passing-for-Caucasian actors are favored over “other ethnicities” (and they are generally relegated to “others”)

    Anyone who has even an /inkling/ of any number of those points knows that, frankly, we don't exactly have ample reason to be “optimistic”.

  72. idk its pretty hard to come up with characters to anime…but i just hope m night jsut doesnt fuck it up bc this could be as big as star wars and can for sure be as big as lord of the rings but for it to do that the director needs the right outlook on how to portray a cartoon series with more plot and story then most people could handle…and m night did come out with some good movies but he specializes in horror which is may more different than an action adventure movie…

  73. Does “Avatar” being in the fantasy genre automatically make it right to strip the characters of what the creators had intended them to be?

    From what I've heard the creators of “Avatar” are NOT happy with the casting and feel that their characters have been disrespected.

  74. >”Does “Avatar” being in the fantasy genre automatically make it right to strip the characters of what the creators had intended them to be?”

    But of course! Since the creators never *said* they were specifically Asian, and since they're not on this Earth, they should default to normal! 8D

    *sighs, then facepalms*

  75. as long as they get the martial arts right i will be happy with it I dont understand why everybody is whining about what race got picked for what part, thats not what the show was about anyway.
    in fact i dont ever remember any of the characters mentioning race in the intire series.
    am i wrong? If so please tell me because i would like to know. if not however could we just drop the whole “OMG why is Katara white thing?”

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