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Hollywood Whitewashing - Page 3

post #101 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mercury318 View Post
Whatever happened to just casting blind. Whoever was best for the role got it. See a chunk of Brit TV and uh...Grey's Anatomy (which gave us the trifecta of awesome that is Sandra Oh, Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez).

Speaking of Ramirez. Was there much in the way of controversy when she played what's essentially the pastiest/whitest woman on the planet in Spamalot? Or does she get a pass because it's Spamalot?

And why is there anger over the casting in Avatar (I know I was annoyed. Need some little wushu-trained kids in there!) but people were totally behind the fellow from Community playing Spider-man? Is it because Shylaman's "blind casting" excuse was so ridiculously blatantly a lie?

And I say this as someone who WAS angry about the Avatar casting and supportive of the Spider-Man casting. I mean if we're supposed to be moving towards a post-racial all cultures are our culture world how do we stomach the inherent hypocrisy of that?

Has the late hour just made me obtuse and offensive?
Different power dynamics? Avatar is sort've a bad example because from what I gather the ethnicity is at least reasonably important to the characters, while there isn't anything necessairly white about Spidey (though I suppose you could make the case that he's too White Persons With Problems to be played by a black guy), but in cases where it doesn't matter, a white actor tackling an ethnic minority role is still different from the opposite happening because white culture doesn't need representation in the way minorities do - it's already dominant.

A colorblind society might be the long term goal (Is it really? I'd go for something more along the lines of a society where all cultures are equally respected and every person is free to pick and choose what aspects of these they identify with - is that the same thing?), but it's not here yet, and acting like it is can be very destructive imo - the odds are still stacked.
post #102 of 2419
See, it wasn't the specific casting of white kids for the leads that bugged me. As someone who hadn't seen the series yet, I wasn't fully aware of the its context nor was I surprised that it happened (I'd already seen what they did with 21's Asian-American characters).

It's how the hits just keep on coming and coming in terms of racial/cultural sensitivity. The best actors got the parts? I highly doubt that. Most every move this production has made has fit into whitewashing and incompetent attempts to mitigate the criticism.

The Last Airbender
was a fantastic opportunity for Asian/Asian-American actors to be able to portray great characters in a world built around their own culture in a big-budget Hollywood summer blockbuster. As an already popular series with built-in fans, it didn't necessarily need a star to draw audiences in (and it's not as if the kids they did cast are big draws). This opportunity is now gone. They were never given a fighting chance. CAUCASIAN or any other race, and all.

About Donald Glover as Spider-man... That's also a different situation because we've already had a trilogy of movies featuring a white Spider-man. That base has been covered and it's been a semi-great run. It's not as if this reboot is the first time the character has been cinematically portrayed.
post #103 of 2419
The Avatar series clearly proved that little white kids are just as happy to support something that celebrates Asian culture, as something that celebrates anglo-American culture, and the movie really should've taken advantage. I would be ashamed of myself if I were Shyamalan, even if it was exclusively studio interference.
post #104 of 2419
I can understand the reasoning behind a studio trying to broaden this series' appeal to lure in the uninitiated in order to justify their investment, but it really seems like pushed too hard without thinking about it.
post #105 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe Powers View Post
The Avatar series clearly proved that little white kids are just as happy to support something that celebrates Asian culture, as something that celebrates anglo-American culture, and the movie really should've taken advantage. I would be ashamed of myself if I were Shyamalan, even if it was exclusively studio interference.
Exactly, I was lucky enough to grow up with a TV show by the name of Monkey, a Japanese produced program that was a retelling of Into The West for (originally Japanese) school kids - kind of like a religious education program for young Buddhist children. The only difference was it was crazy, colourful, badly dubbed, wonderfully cheesy and easily the most violent show on television even tho it was being broadcast for Australian kids at 4:30 in the afternoon. For a child aged between 2 and 12 it was quite simply incredible. Did I care that it featured only asian actors or that it was set in a world I had no frame of reference for? Absolutely not, in fact it helped instil in me a fascination for asian culture, Buddhism and asian cinema that has never left me.



You couldn't get more overtly Asian than Monkey, yet you ask any Australian born within ten years before or after me and you'll get blanket approval and acclaim to this day. The show was utterly beloved, its dvd's still sell like hot cakes, people still talk about the show and their favourite eps - geek and non-geek alike. That's how prevalent it was for a lot of us. Did any of the kids that grew up with it take issue with the show being of an overtly asian background? No, we just ran into the backyard after an episode finished, grabbed a broom and pretended to be Monkey or Pigsy or Sandy fighting off brightly coloured-haired demons before the sun went down or Mum called us in for tea.

Where I'm going with this is to say that a show like Avatar WAS a perfect opportunity to give Asian actors a real big budget chance to shine - kids would have lapped it up. The whole whitewashing of the film is so wrong-headed because kids wouldn't have cared if the actors were asian and many would have responded more positively to it if they were.

Now, I don't know what kind of message this is sending out to kids who are fans of the show - but Shyamalan must know he's done a Faustian deal to keep his career on this one.
post #106 of 2419
The way they're trying to sell The Last Airbender is clearly going for more than the kiddie-family-movie crowd. As if it's utterly serious fantasy. The dark intense look of the posters and the marketing is trying desperately to hide the more innocent and fun-loving tone of the series to bring in people who would otherwise brush the movie off the way I originally brushed off the animated series. People who would be less likely to come see a major Hollywood movie if it starred actors that look like minorities. They must figure they've got the kiddie demographic in the bag. So why even bother trying to lure them in? Kids'll lap up anything, right? Kids are stupid!
post #107 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rain Dog View Post
Exactly, I was lucky enough to grow up with a TV show by the name of Monkey, a Japanese produced program that was a retelling of Into The West for (originally Japanese) school kids - kind of like a religious education program for young Buddhist children. The only difference was it was crazy, colourful, badly dubbed, wonderfully cheesy and easily the most violent show on television even tho it was being broadcast for Australian kids at 4:30 in the afternoon. For a child aged between 2 and 12 it was quite simply incredible. Did I care that it featured only asian actors or that it was set in a world I had no frame of reference for? Absolutely not, in fact it helped instil in me a fascination for asian culture, Buddhism and asian cinema that has never left me.



You couldn't get more overtly Asian than Monkey, yet you ask any Australian born within ten years before or after me and you'll get blanket approval and acclaim to this day. The show was utterly beloved, its dvd's still sell like hot cakes, people still talk about the show and their favourite eps - geek and non-geek alike. That's how prevalent it was for a lot of us. Did any of the kids that grew up with it take issue with the show being of an overtly asian background? No, we just ran into the backyard after an episode finished, grabbed a broom and pretended to be Monkey or Pigsy or Sandy fighting off brightly coloured-haired demons before the sun went down or Mum called us in for tea.

Where I'm going with this is to say that a show like Avatar WAS a perfect opportunity to give Asian actors a real big budget chance to shine - kids would have lapped it up. The whole whitewashing of the film is so wrong-headed because kids wouldn't have cared if the actors were asian and many would have responded more positively to it if they were.

Now, I don't know what kind of message this is sending out to kids who are fans of the show - but Shyamalan must know he's done a Faustian deal to keep his career on this one.

Same in the UK, plus it led on to an appreciation of The Water Margin which was kind of like Monkey for grown ups. Imagine a decent budgeted film adaptation of Monkey which captures exactly the same irreverent, slapstick tone without being condescening or stupid. Pissing on Buddha's fingers indeed...

It just goes to show the profound impact general cultural intercourse has. I and a lot of friends went to multiracial primary schools where we acted out, as a community, those kinds of non-English import shows and adventures without reference to race or creed: looking to them in many ways as inspiration. Fast forward thirty years and we think nothing of tacitly commending through profitable participation a social order that deliberately reflects and embodies a massive pro-white, pro-male orthodoxy.

But then I'm white and male, so like the scorpion on the back of the frog, should I expect anything different of myself and others...

I often think the same of the 70s and early 80s generally. There was hope embodied in a lot of pop culture I was exposed to at the time - Magic Roundabout, Mr Benn, Monkey, Tiswas - of newer more self-aware, critical, universal, anarchic memes. Maybe they were nothing but age and epoch appropriate opiates.
post #108 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
People who would be less likely to come see a major Hollywood movie if it starred actors that look like minorities. They must figure they've got the kiddie demographic in the bag. So why even bother trying to lure them in? Kids'll lap up anything, right? Kids are stupid!
See also THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM and THE WARRIORS OF VIRTUE. They just had to insert a caucasian kid as the main character. Granted those were more "fish out of water" stories, introducing the white kid to a different culture (Ed Zwick movie for the younger set)... but FORBIDDEN KINGDOM still contained Asians (the top 2 at that) as more than just the villains. AVATAR seems like a step back.
post #109 of 2419
Of course, The Forbidden Kingdom was made on the premise of getting Chan and Li in a movie together. The posters (at least the DVD cover) don't even feature Michael Angarano.

I was discussing this topic with a friend and such movies were brought up as, "But what about these movies?" I responded with the same "fish out of water" justification. An Asian actor would've had no chance at that role, obviously. But that's another detail of a larger issue. That they conveniently cast white and male, when there are other ethnicities and another sex that could've been the fish out of water. White male was the default one to go to, which Devin wrote about in regards to Donald Glover for Spider-man. Then there's the Zwick formula that shows up whenever a Hollywood movie 'explores' a different culture. Granted, the formula does make it easier for the screenwriter when it comes to exposition.

I actually really enjoyed The Forbidden Kingdom though. Hahaha.
post #110 of 2419
Just watched UP for the first time - thought it was worth mentioning that Russell appears to be Asian American, and that certainly didn't hurt Up's BO. Also, good on them for going that route rather than what would typically be portrayed.

Also, he's just a kid. There aren't really any easily identifiable, stereotypical "Asian" ethnic traits applied to him.

If UP was live action, do you think they still would have cast an asian actor or at the very least, approached the role in a color blind way? The character seems a blank slate, so any option could have been possible. Do ya'll think the movie being animated enabled them to have a little more freedom in the design of the character?
post #111 of 2419
Yeah Russell is based on the lead animator and voice actor, and both are Asian.

I also really liked Forbidden Kingdom.
post #112 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayward_Woman View Post
Do ya'll think the movie being animated enabled them to have a little more freedom in the design of the character?
I definitely feel that way.

What was interesting about Russell is that he read as Asian to me. Not immediately (as you said, there were no obvious stereotypical signifiers), but pretty quick. I've had friends who didn't see it at all. They just saw him as a kid.
post #113 of 2419
The characters don't look particularly Asian in this illustration:



And this is from a promotional illustration of the show. If the original show looks like it's whitewashing these characters then how can we complain if the movies does the same thing?
post #114 of 2419
It's all about context. You can't really judge from that promotional illustration. The end.
post #115 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by t3cii View Post
The characters don't look particularly Asian in this illustration:
But does that mean they should all be cast white?

Also, if you'll permit me to link a video I linked on the previous page of this thread:

Are Anime characters Caucasian or Japanese?
post #116 of 2419


Yes, I can see how the original show is whitewashing them.
post #117 of 2419
This actor will be playing the grandmotherly lady in the background:
post #118 of 2419
Seriously, even if you've never seen the cartoon, I don't know how people could watch just the trailer for the film and not see how it utterly screams "traditional Asian culture-based fantasy setting".

In fact is there even a single asian actor in the film at all????
post #119 of 2419
Of course there are. There's Keong Sim as Earthbending Father and Randall Duk Kim as Old Man in Temple.

The Fire Nation has non-white people, though that seems to be drawing from the fact that they cast Dev Patel as Zuko. Of course, the word is that he was originally going to be played by Jesse McCartney, so I guess we dodged a bullet there.
post #120 of 2419
Then again, the Fire Nation is the one that's at war with the rest of the world and exterminated the Air Nomads, so subtext yays all around.
post #121 of 2419
True. I'm thinking they didn't exactly think things through when they made that change.
post #122 of 2419
For the purposes of the first film, which is supposedly following the first season, the Fire Nation are villains, and they've mostly been cast as Indians. What the fuck does that say to India and Indian Americans that used to think Shyamalan was their hope for mainstream acceptance of Indian culture in America. Instead they had to depend on a goofy pot smoking movie and a movie from a tiny, pale Englishman.
post #123 of 2419
Movie #1, the few surviving white guys discover a long frozen white man, travel with him in a world filled with brown evil villains and have a climatic battle at the one remaining white stronghold.

Movie #2, having protected the white stronghold, the white guys travel to the asian kingdom, obviously under control from the brown villains because asians by themselves couldn't possibly fight back, the once frozen white man is there mostly because he needs learn/steal their culture to fight the brown leader and avenge his long dead white brethren, but being there, and being white and righteous he'll try to help free the asian kingdom. Oh wait, obviously the asian kingdom is filled with bad guys as well (I mean, they are not white), and through a power struggle, they betray the white guys and let the last remaining asian stronghold fall to the bad brown guy nation. The white guys get an asian sidekick here, tho, so there's that.

Also notice the brown guys are particularly barbaric, what with the public burnings and exile as reasonable punishment. Luckily though, should they get to Movie #3, the brown guys will collapse amongst themselves through betrayal, which is ok because they didn't have good values to begin with. The main brown guy will also teach his culture to the white one, who will use it better than the brown guys ever did, to defeat their leader, but he won't follow the brown guy's barbaric suggestion of killing the genocidal leader and will instead follow his noble white heart and remove him from power (as well as remove his power), leaving the main brown guy in charge, not unlike, say, the history of every american intervention with every government in africa/asia.
post #124 of 2419
Asians get a few supporting roles while also being used to give the background some... color.

Perhaps this will come across as being insensitive to Inuit culture, but I feel like Dev Patel could've been a good Sokka.
post #125 of 2419
I kind of wonder if the international market was a factor in the Last Airbender casting.

I mean, Asia has its own set of pretty complex racial histories and conflicts.

The rough analogues for the Avatar nations are, as I understand it, Fire-Japanese, Air-Chinese, Earth-Korean, and Water-Inuit.

Assuming you cast the races faithfully, you'd have an American movie insensitively pitting Asian races against each other, and, in particular, with a Japanese expansionist empire committing genocide on the Chinese. Which obviously echoes tensions still simmering from WW2. And I can't imagine Japanese distributors particularly liking that.

I think probably anyway you cast it you'd have a political clusterfuck.
post #126 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
Perhaps this will come across as being insensitive to Inuit culture, but I feel like Dev Patel could've been a good Sokka.
Actually, yeah. That's the final joke here.
post #127 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Wolcott View Post
Movie #1, the few surviving white guys discover a long frozen white man, travel with him in a world filled with brown evil villains and have a climatic battle at the one remaining white stronghold.

Movie #2, having protected the white stronghold, the white guys travel to the asian kingdom, obviously under control from the brown villains because asians by themselves couldn't possibly fight back, the once frozen white man is there mostly because he needs learn/steal their culture to fight the brown leader and avenge his long dead white brethren, but being there, and being white and righteous he'll try to help free the asian kingdom. Oh wait, obviously the asian kingdom is filled with bad guys as well (I mean, they are not white), and through a power struggle, they betray the white guys and let the last remaining asian stronghold fall to the bad brown guy nation. The white guys get an asian sidekick here, tho, so there's that.

Also notice the brown guys are particularly barbaric, what with the public burnings and exile as reasonable punishment. Luckily though, should they get to Movie #3, the brown guys will collapse amongst themselves through betrayal, which is ok because they didn't have good values to begin with. The main brown guy will also teach his culture to the white one, who will use it better than the brown guys ever did, to defeat their leader, but he won't follow the brown guy's barbaric suggestion of killing the genocidal leader and will instead follow his noble white heart and remove him from power (as well as remove his power), leaving the main brown guy in charge, not unlike, say, the history of every american intervention with every government in africa/asia.
All it needs is lovely buxom ladies wearing very little and Ralph Bakshi would be proud...
post #128 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seamus View Post
The rough analogues for the Avatar nations are, as I understand it, Fire-Japanese, Air-Chinese, Earth-Korean, and Water-Inuit.
Fire Nation has a lot of Chinese, as well I think.

But, for the record, I don't really think it should've been cast as a one-by-one, pick a nation and choose a race thing. It is, after all, a fantasy world. The thing is, it was a perfect opportunity to have a multiracial cast and, unlike most movies where the standard systemic question is "why should the main character be [insert ethnicity]?", here the question should've been "why should he be white?", except it seems it wasn't so much asked as answered through inertia.
post #129 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Wolcott View Post
Actually, yeah. That's the final joke here.
But I could easily imagine that ruffling some feathers too. As Seamus said, this thing could easily be a casting clusterfuck anyway you look at it. So I give the people behind this movie a bit of sympathy. They're gonna offend SOMEBODY. But the way they chose to go seems to be one of the worst.

Was this series popular around the world? In Asia as well? For some reason, I can kinda see them not being particularly impressed the way Chinese people weren't impressed with Crouching Tiger.
post #130 of 2419
Valid point, but I guess the more immediate one is the "there's lots of asian/indian/etc people in the United States", the target country for the movie, and "there's lots of asian/indian/etc kids" that will see the movie and what does it say about them, what does it tell them, subtextually or otherwise.

I mean, if we actually look at the subtext of Holywood blockbusters from a "world" perspective, there are feathers ruffled at all levels, at all places.
post #131 of 2419
Hmm, is there anything about the series that feels Asian-American as opposed to Asian?

The creators weren't Asian in ethnicity or nationality.
post #132 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Wolcott View Post
Valid point, but I guess the more immediate one is the "there's lots of asian/indian/etc people in the United States",
More immediate!? Why do you hate the rest of the world!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by neoolong View Post
Hmm, is there anything about the series that feels Asian-American as opposed to Asian?

The creators weren't Asian in ethnicity or nationality.
Other than the fact that it was a TV series developed in America (but produced alongside Asian animation studios) that was steeped in Asian culture, no. If that sounded sarcastic, don't take it that way. Because it wasn't intended to be!
post #133 of 2419
While action movies tend to do as well or better internationally than domestically, the US is still the largest take by country in terms of revenue. You better believe that that's what's looked at as the target audience primarily.
post #134 of 2419
Yeah, domestic gross definitely seems to be what they'd rather boast about. If it were the other way around, perhaps there could've been another Golden Compass movie. Hehehe.
post #135 of 2419
I know it's dumb and fanboy of me, but Dante Basco really would've worked just fine for Zuko. He doesn't really look his age, and the voice would be perfect.
post #136 of 2419
I thought exactly the same thing. Based on some more recent photos, I'd say he'd have to slim down a bit, but I think it could've worked.

Ooooooh, look at me being all prejudiced against bigger people now! Hollywood Weightwatching!
post #137 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
More immediate!? Why do you hate the rest of the world!?
Haha damn. That came out wrong.

What I mean to say, the racial clusterfuck that lets us be even discussing something like "whitewashing" seems to me to US-centric. I mean be wrong there though. Other countries have different racial histories. And the way I look at it, the main thing that needs to be criticized about this particular case (remembering its after Nickelodeon's attempt at an anime-like series*), is why turn the characters white at all. It's a fantasy world and its creators and animators have pretty much said it was intended to be asian.

*For that matter, how was Avatar even received amongst anime fans, in Japan?
post #138 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
Yeah, domestic gross definitely seems to be what they'd rather boast about. If it were the other way around, perhaps there could've been another Golden Compass movie. Hehehe.
Well, maybe if New Line hadn't pre-sold international. Heh.
post #139 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francis Wolcott View Post
Haha damn. That came out wrong.
That was actually sarcasm. I know exactly what you were saying.


Quote:
Originally Posted by neoolong View Post
Well, maybe if New Line hadn't pre-sold international. Heh.
Oh yeah? I wasn't aware of that. Whoops for them!
post #140 of 2419
Oops. The question mark exclamation mark should've tipped me off.
post #141 of 2419
In that second picture they look Eskimo to me. Eskimo are asain though, right?
post #142 of 2419
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Eskimo/Inuit people are more considered Native American.
post #143 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teitr Styrr View Post
In that second picture they look Eskimo to me. Eskimo are asain though, right?
Well, they aren't white...
post #144 of 2419
Fairly derived from Asians I believe, coming over from that part of the world if I remember my schooling right.
post #145 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Eskimo/Inuit people are more considered Native American.
I think they're more closely tied to Asians than what is considered Native American.
post #146 of 2419
B-b-but, I CTRL-Fed for ASIA and Native American and the latter showed up more!!!

Hahahahaha. My knowledge is pathetic.
post #147 of 2419
Quote:
Originally Posted by neoolong View Post
I think they're more closely tied to Asians than what is considered Native American.
Just googled a "are native americans asain?" and found out most sites believe they are from 4 different asain cultures and one european culture. And yes, the Eskimo are part of one (or more) of the asain groups.

The picture just made me curious, I hope I didn't overstep my bounds.

ETA: I shouln't say most, just the ones I looked at.
post #148 of 2419
Teitr, I'm going to throw you a bone here with a little rhyme I learned in elementary school:

I before A when in the word "Asian"
post #149 of 2419
Dagnabit! Typing sucks! Sonofacrap, I did it every time...

Thanks Mike.
post #150 of 2419
No worries.
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