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Hollywood Whitewashing - Page 6

post #251 of 901
Just to add some more information about the show...

Eye color, in the show, often corresponds to the nation you're from. Water = blue. Fire = orange/golden. Earth = green. Air = Greyish.

As for the Asian-ness of the world... the show was pretty good about showing different cultures as the characters went to different villages and cities. The world was dominantly Chinese, but you see representations of Inuit, Korean and Japanese cultures as well. Each type of bending was also based on a specific style of martial art.
post #252 of 901
Thread Starter 
Yeah, the reason I'm saying "Asian" is that the show draws from several different Asian cultures. But I don't think it's unreasonable to lump Asians together in some contexts anyway, anymore than it's unfair to say "Westerners".

And it doesn't matter that the show is American in origin, any more that it matters that Prince of Persia is an American video game. In both cases, as mcnooj pointed out, there was a chance to introduce some diversity into a big Hollywood blockbuster, something that's sorely needed. They actually had to go out of their way to cast white people, which is what's causing friction. It's like if they made a Black Panther (the superhero) movie and cast him as white, on the logic that he was created by a couple of old Jewish guys.

I disagree with aspects of that video, but the central point, that Japanese people see anime characters as Japanese, is sound.
post #253 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post
Yeah, the reason I'm saying "Asian" is that the show draws from several different Asian cultures. But I don't think it's unreasonable to lump Asians together in some contexts anyway, anymore than it's unfair to say "Westerners".

And it doesn't matter that the show is American in origin, any more that it matters that Prince of Persia is an American video game. In both cases, as mcnooj pointed out, there was a chance to introduce some diversity into a big Hollywood blockbuster, something that's sorely needed. They actually had to go out of their way to cast white people, which is what's causing friction. It's like if they made a Black Panther (the superhero) movie and cast him as white, on the logic that he was created by a couple of old Jewish guys.
I agree with these points. "Asian" is a blanket term, yes, but the show has a representation of a few different Asian cultures. Certainly not "Western" as we know it.

And this (like PoP) would have been a great opportunity for diversity in Hollywood blockbusters. Specifically because of the cultures featured in the properties. It was an open invitation that Hollywood declined.
post #254 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post
And this (like PoP) would have been a great opportunity for diversity in Hollywood blockbusters. Specifically because of the cultures featured in the properties. It was an open invitation that Hollywood declined.
This right here. I think the most damning aspect of this whole issue is the fact that it is widely agreed that Hollywood is lacking in diversity, and while it is nice to see M. Night get a shot at a potential blockbuster, that small step towards more/better opportunities for non-whites in Hollywood had to be counteracted by refusing to cast non-whites in leading roles in a property that would have given Hollywood all sorts of excuses to do so, and probably not risk dollars while doing it.

While I agree with Devin that many of the arguments in the YouTube video regarding anime characters seem misinformed/misguided, the fact that Airbender is so heavily influenced by East Asian culture seems to me a perfectly legimate excuse to be proactive and cast young Asian/Asian-American actors in a property the size of which they will rarely be considered for.

Side Note: It's great that Columbia Pictures had the courage to go with no white leads in The Karate Kid, but let's not underestimate the impact of Big Willie and Jada's roles as co-producers (who, it sounds, fashioned the film specifically as a vehicle for their son), the relatively small budget, and the fact that children (the target audience, along with nostalgia-seekers) seem to be less hung up on ethnicity than adults. Not to mention the fact that it continues to strenghthen the relationship between Columbia and Will Smith (Hancock, Hitch, Bad Boys, MiB, etc). So, it seems that this remarkable bit of casting is the result of a perfect storm of factors.

I'm just not ready to let Hollywood off the hook for Airbender because there are some dark faces in the background, or because Jesse McCartney had "scheduling conflicts," or because Aang's skin tone is light (as is that of many East Asians). This was a fairly "safe" opportunity for them to take, and they blew it as DARKMITE said.
post #255 of 901
Tangentially related... but here's a link to a documentary called Hip Korea, about the rise of Rain and South Korea into international attention. There is a little bit covered about how only a few years ago, Rain didn't fit into the standards of attractiveness but set the standard for himself.

http://www.channelapa.com/2009/05/hi...y-channel.html
post #256 of 901
Dante Basco's very level-headed take on the whitewashing of the cast and the idea of boycotting the film for it.

If you don't know, Dante Basco was the voice of Zuko in the animated series. That, and Ruuuuufiooooo.... Roooooofioooooo... RUFIO!

http://dantebasco.wordpress.com/2010...oycott-or-not/
post #257 of 901
He was also in BLOOD AND BONE.

Heh, with the reviews, I don't know if boycotting is going to have an apparent effect.
post #258 of 901
Hahaha, yeah. I'm not sure what damages them getting the message out more. The movie doing well and achieving a temporary high in awareness so that such issues can be brought up more often to people who probably won't care as long as they enjoyed the movie? Or that the movie does so poorly nobody cares to ever bring it up again.

Well, if their objective was to make sure Paramount or M. Night wouldn't do all that well with this movie, they may get their wish at least. To their credit, they have succeeded in getting the issue out there. Here's a recent interview with Shyamalan where he has to go on the defensive against Racebending.com's criticisms.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/cel...r_m_night.html

I do have to commend the Racebending.com people for the way they've handled themselves. They treated it like a real movement and made sure to remain professional. They and organizations like MANAA tried to do everything they could for 2 years to get into dialogue with Paramount only to be ignored again and again. They were only given half-assed correspondence once it was too late to do anything about it.

I should check Blood and Bone out.
post #259 of 901
Careful now, BLOOD AND BONE uses the n-word more than Mel Gibson.

And M. Night does sound defensive. It might have been a little more convincing if the main cast wasn't all white originally. You can point to Patel now, but what was he going to do if it stayed McCartney?

Oh and if the criticisms about the acting are true, then casting Ringer, who is a dead ringer (sorry), for Aang wasn't that great of a choice. Might as well gotten a guy that looked less similar, but could act.
post #260 of 901
Yeah, he always uses Patel as a defense but never admits to the actor being a replacement for the original white actor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by devincf View Post
I just think that since the film opted to play with the racial identity of the nations in general (and retrofitted the culture to fit it - there is Indian flavored art and stuff for the Fire Nation), it's kind of moot.
Is it moot? If Jesse McCartney had stayed on as Zuko, what was Shyamalan gonna do with the rest of the Fire Nation? Cast the rest of them as 'Brits?' Darken McCartney a bit?

Is it possible that McCartney's 'schedule conflict' was fabricated to bring a minority actor on board when the whitewashing criticisms started to build steam?
post #261 of 901
What I don't understand, is why M. Night, with his own ethnic background, didn't use his influence with this movie to show case some ethnic actors. Is it some form of reverse white guilt, or did the studios make him do this? I just don't understand.
post #262 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teitr Styrr View Post
What I don't understand, is why M. Night, with his own ethnic background, didn't use his influence with this movie to show case some ethnic actors. Is it some form of reverse white guilt, or did the studios make him do this? I just don't understand.
Maybe he identifies more with caucasians. Most of his flicks are "White People With Problems" movies to some degree or another.
post #263 of 901
Just being from an ethnic background doesn't automatically make you care about such things. At least that's what I've found when it comes to broaching this subject with some of my Asian friends.

One only really cared that the movie was faithful to the source material.

Another simply couldn't give a shit. It's just silly movies, right?

I talked to one friend who went to a special private screening of the film. I told her all about the issues and whatnot. She understood. She admitted to me that she actually really loved how Asian it all was. Hehehe. It hit a sweet spot.

The point is, you can nod your head about all of this and talk about how much it sucks. But if it's not an emotional issue for you, it really doesn't matter. I feel like Shyamalan is probably in that category.
post #264 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
Just being from an ethnic background doesn't automatically make you care about such things. At least that's what I've found when it comes to broaching this subject with some of my Asian friends.

One only really cared that the movie was faithful to the source material.

Another simply couldn't give a shit. It's just silly movies, right?
Blah, I guess. Maybe my white guilt is in overdrive.
post #265 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teitr Styrr View Post
Blah, I guess. Maybe my white guilt is in overdrive.
Situations like this remind me of a series 2 episode of The Office (original) where David Brent tells the 'black man's cock' joke and is taken to task by all of his white employees, while Brent defends himself by saying the black employee thought it was funny.
post #266 of 901
AV Club interviews Aasif Mandvi. Some of it is in regards to the way Hollywood casts minorities.

http://www.avclub.com/articles/aasif-mandvi,42627/
post #267 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teitr Styrr View Post
What I don't understand, is why M. Night, with his own ethnic background, didn't use his influence with this movie to show case some ethnic actors. Is it some form of reverse white guilt, or did the studios make him do this? I just don't understand.
My guess is that, given his recent bombs, M. Night's influence has waned and he didn't want to spoil his relationship with a studio that took a big chance on a struggling director. I doubt he could have exerted much pull on a big summer blockbuster given how poorly The Village, Lady in the Water, and The Happening did. What's disappointing is hearing how determined he is to defend the casting decisions (whether he really believes in those actors or not). And in the end the horrible reviews (especially regarding the acting) will fall on him because of how vocal he's been in his support.
post #268 of 901
And yet:

"And I fought like crazy to have the pronunciation of the names to go back to the Asian pronunciation. So you say “Ahng” instead of “Aaang” because it’s correct. It’s not “I-rack,” it’s “ee-Rock.” I’m literally fighting for all this." - M. Night Shyamalan

It's nice to know that M Night fought like crazy about the important things.
post #269 of 901
Having seen the first two episodes of the cartoon, I believe completely that Aang is white. Zhuko and his gang are all Asians, with paler skin and more narrowed eyes. It's pretty obvious that Aang is a different race from the eskimos and the Fire Nation.
post #270 of 901
That's interesting, because I don't necessarily disagree with you. I think the vocal work goes a long way in making certain more 'appealingly designed' characters seem white. Indeed, that's a point those who don't buy this 'whitewashing' issue often bring up.

I assume you watched the first two episodes through Netflix Instant Watch. Do you plan to try keeping up with the show? Or was it just to get a taste of what the fuss was about? I can't remember if the first two episodes show Aang amongst his airbending brethren. I remember that they were all drawn to be read more Asian than Aang was, as older characters and background characters tend to be, compared to the hero characters.
post #271 of 901
I might continue. My girlfriend seems to like the show. I strongly dislike anime and its concept of comedy, so large sections of the show just kind of irritated me. That said, I do like the show's version of Aang as a fun kid much more than the movie's version of him as nothing.
post #272 of 901
Hahahahaa, I can see that. And despite having grown up with stuff like Dragonball, I completely agree with you in disliking what anime and its humor tend to be.

I'd be really interested in hearing more of you and your girlfriend's opinion on the show as it goes on. It took me a bit to get past the hump of the more kid-ish first half of the first season, to the point where I only watched the first episode a while back and left it at that for a long time. At some point, the show picks up and finds a good rhythm.
post #273 of 901
The one thing that movie did do is that it convinced me that the show has an interesting world and a big mythology, which combined with the limited run of the series piques my interest.
post #274 of 901
Another point about anime humor, which I generally see as childish...

I think the 'anime humor' is a lot more forgivable in the context that Avatar was specifically designed as a kid's show, instead of being something childish that tries to seem dark and gritty.

I could be wrong, but I think a lot of that type of humor subsides as the series goes on and becomes more character based as each character gets fleshed out.
post #275 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by neoolong View Post
And yet:

"And I fought like crazy to have the pronunciation of the names to go back to the Asian pronunciation. So you say “Ahng” instead of “Aaang” because it’s correct. It’s not “I-rack,” it’s “ee-Rock.” I’m literally fighting for all this." - M. Night Shyamalan

It's nice to know that M Night fought like crazy about the important things.
There's such a weird inconsistency in the way Shyamalan defends himself. He keeps talking about the ambiguity of the source material, but then puts it on himself to give the names the correct 'Asian' pronunciations.
post #276 of 901
Yeah, the comedy gets toned down a lot in the second season, but it doesn't get all grimdark 'n serious (no more than WB's Batman, in any case).

For what it's worth, I pretty much hate anime too!
post #277 of 901
Devin, should you continue watching the series and post your reactions, here's the thread for the show I started in the Television section.

http://chud.com/forum/showthread.php...ight=airbender
post #278 of 901
I don't think he will do that, but I would very much enjoy it!
post #279 of 901
I'm glad you aren't hating the show Devin. It gets way better in the second season, but that's a pretty long haul for someone who isn't really enjoying the early episodes. I personally compare it to Harry Potter, which I really didn't like in the beginning, but stuck with at the insistence of the people around me.
post #280 of 901
It's okay. Having seen the movie and knowing the scope it achieves intrigues me. I just really can't get into the goofy slide-whistle-themed comedy.
post #281 of 901
Yeah, that stuff doesn't go away, but it does lessen. As a fan (and you know how fans have trouble seeing the forest from the trees) I'd like to think the comedy focuses more on the characters and dialog as it goes on.
post #282 of 901
The first season of Avatar is a huge slog to get through, mostly due to the comedy Devin mentioned, and the lack of any forward momentum. I finally saw the season finale the other night, but that turned me off to the point where I think I'll just stick to whatever Shyamalan comes up with. Putting up with 90 minutes of his "vision" is a lot easier than watching hours upon hours of animated wackiness.
post #283 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rain Dog View Post
I had no idea this was even happening, it's been pretty ignored in aussie media here. Billy Sing is actually rather famous if you know your Gallipoli history.

My opinion? Frankly it makes me furious enough to power the sun, but my country is a helluva lot more soft racist than it can ever admit to itself (mainstream Australian opinion is unless you're burning crosses or forming lynch mobs, you can't be racist) so I'm not terribly surprised unfortunately.
That's just terrible about the casting. I could think of one place they could have found someone to play a 60 year old Chinese Man.

China for starters.
post #284 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by neoolong View Post
And yet:

"And I fought like crazy to have the pronunciation of the names to go back to the Asian pronunciation. So you say “Ahng” instead of “Aaang” because it’s correct. It’s not “I-rack,” it’s “ee-Rock.” I’m literally fighting for all this." - M. Night Shyamalan

It's nice to know that M Night fought like crazy about the important things.
I missed this post. So he's not going to cast Chinese, but he's going to go out of his way to change the pronunciation to sound more Chinese? I don't think this is a case of whitewashing anymore, I've decided that Shyamalan is just being difficult for the sake of it.
post #285 of 901
A piece I found to be a VERY interesting look into how this 'situation' is also very much self-inflicted when it comes to the portrayal of Asian/Asian-Americans in the media. It's a point I kinda touched on much earlier in this thread, but kinda stepped back on because I couldn't really express it without getting into stereotypes that could come out wrong.

The writer of the link is a much better writer. Hahah. So that helps.

Hollywood and Asians: Do We Really Need More Asian Americans In Positions Of Power?

Quote:
I’ve often wondered about this and have had long discussions with my colleagues about why it oftentimes seems like we’re our own worst enemies. And I think it might have to do with our baggage as Asian Americans. We’re taught to assimilate, to not make waves, to be followers. Maybe once we’re allowed into that exclusive club, we want to fit in so badly that we don’t want to give the impression that we’re favoring “our own,” sometimes to the point of going in the opposite direction and making an effort to reject our community. Maybe it’s insecurity or self-hatred or just plain fear. But when a film like Better Luck Tomorrow pops up and our own community can’t support it until MTV and Paramount validate it and it gets the white man’s seal of approval first, then there’s something wrong. We should be at the forefront of championing works like that, not following behind the curve after the train has already passed us by. As producer Dan Lin said at our INTERPRETATIONS panel last month, we really have to fight against our own Asian upbringing.
I am definitely one of those Asians who grew up trying to assimilate and "not make waves." Should I have tried to get into Hollywood's insanity as a career, would I say what this asshole said to Justin Lin after a very early screening (before it was picked up by MTV) of Better Luck Tomorrow?

Quote:
So after the screening, everyone’s coming up to Justin to congratulate him on the work. One of the people who approaches him is an Asian American agent at one of the top talent agencies. Usually in these instances, if you didn’t like the film, it’s standard to say something like “good work” or give some other politely vague compliment. But what this agent does is rip into Justin for having wasted his time, effort and money by making this film. The agent goes on about how Justin should’ve made the film with a white cast instead of Asians and basically berates him for being an idiot and tells him the film has no future. I still don’t understand what the point of the tirade was and I question if the agent would have gone off in the same way to a non-Asian filmmaker. Unfortunately, stories like this are not isolated.
That said, I didn't really like Better Luck Tomorrow as a film, though I recognized what a big deal it was. It doesn't help that Lin tried to remake OLDBOY. But he DID direct some of the best episodes of Community!
post #286 of 901
Looks like that Yellow Face documentary got finished and made its Youtube debut.

Haven't watched it yet. Plan to.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
post #287 of 901
Bringing this thread back up because I didn't want the subject to clutter up the thread for The Social Network. It's not specifically a whitewashing issue, but it's in the realm of stereotypes. It certainly came to my mind as I watched the film, but I was just reminded of it as I read Ebert's 4 star review of the film. In it, he mentions:
Quote:
A subtext the movie never comments on is the omnipresence of attractive Asian women.
If you've seen the film, you may know why I'm bringing this up. But since the film just came out this weekend, I'm just gonna play wait-and-see before trying to discuss it.
post #288 of 901
What baffles me is that there are some people who sincerely think that Aang is supposed to be white. It's always been obvious to me that he's an Asian represented in the anime style.

For an essay on the matter of Aang's ethnicity:

http://community.livejournal.com/racebending/71429.html
post #289 of 901
If you see a picture of Aang, and take out all context, then he kinda does look white. But, you have to go out of your way to ignore everything else to make the claim that he's supposed to be white.
post #290 of 901
So I'm sure people have heard about Zac Efron supposedly being courted for Akira.

There's another piece of Japanese source material that Doug Liman is planning direct the adaptation of All You Need Is Kill, a sci-fi novel. The main character's name, Keiji Kiriya, has been changed to Billy Cage in the script.

When asked about the casting, Doug Liman responded:

Quote:
Coming Soon: I think "All You Need is Kill" is one of the ones you've been eyeing next, which is interesting because it's based on a Japanese book, so are you going to go for Japanese lead actors?

Liman: No, it's totally American.
That answer could be taken two different ways, but something tells me I wouldn't be far off to say that he means it in the less sensitive way...
post #291 of 901
Wow, that's unusually blunt.

He couldn't even give a spiel about picking the best actor for the role? Has a script even been written?
post #292 of 901
post #293 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
Wow. I mean, wow.

I'm not sure what is more disturbing: the fact that Shacrapalon filmed a scene like this at all, or the fact that the film's one scene of wannabe "diversity" ultimately hit the cutting room floor.
post #294 of 901
Around 1:14, you can also see some guys in jean shorts in the background. Crew members, I assume...
post #295 of 901
Here's a question, when is Americanization of a foreign film (or film with foreign themes) to be considered malicious whitewashing?

I think Airbender is a great example, because the Asian nature of the nations, main characters, themes, and religious philosophies are so central to the show.

On the other hand, would The Ring be considered whitewashing? Or, how about the Akira casting rumour as mentioned a few posts earlier?

I know that some Kurosawa movies have been basically remade with different titles and white actors. In fact, Kurosawa himself based many of his films on foreign works of literature, didn't he? When does something stop being homage and start being xenophobia?

I guess what really offended me about Airbender was the feeling that capable Asian actors and martial artists must have been available for the movie's many characters. Just thinking "out loud" I guess...
post #296 of 901
It's one thing to remake films if you have an interesting direction, e.g. Seven Samurai into The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. At least that's more like remaking Shakespeare into a different setting. Blatantly remaking a film into the exact same film with white actors is definitely suspect.

There was no reason for Let the Right One In to be remade other than to appeal to English-speaking American audiences. It's a white movie already, but Hollywood will go for whatever works for what they perceive to be the dominant culture.
post #297 of 901
Thread Starter 
[Nitpick]Seven Samurai was turned into The Magnificent Seven. A Fistful of Dollars is based on Yojimbo. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly isn't based on a Kurosawa film that I'm aware of.[/Nitpick]

There's nothing wrong with remaking an Asian film and setting it in America, aside from the usual stupid idea that American audiences are allergic to subtitles. The problem comes when you have a story where your lead should logically be Asian, and you go out of your way to cast white. That's why Airbender and Prince of Persia were such a slap in the face.

A remake of Akira set in America doesn't have these problematic overtones. Except, I guess, that it's kind of hard to call it "Akira", so...who knows.
post #298 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post
ED ZWICK: The Musical!
post #299 of 901
At least Ed Zwick's musicals have well-executed action sequences! Shyamalan couldn't even seem to do that.
post #300 of 901
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Prankster View Post
[Nitpick]Seven Samurai was turned into The Magnificent Seven. A Fistful of Dollars is based on Yojimbo. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly isn't based on a Kurosawa film that I'm aware of.[/Nitpick]

There's nothing wrong with remaking an Asian film and setting it in America, aside from the usual stupid idea that American audiences are allergic to subtitles. The problem comes when you have a story where your lead should logically be Asian, and you go out of your way to cast white. That's why Airbender and Prince of Persia were such a slap in the face.

A remake of Akira set in America doesn't have these problematic overtones. Except, I guess, that it's kind of hard to call it "Akira", so...who knows.
the plot of the Akira remake seems to be the same, but it takes place in a Manhattan bought out by Japan after WWIII. So the city is supposed to be heavily Asian influenced, with half of the cast still Asian. Kaneda is still Kaneda, but Tetsuo is now Travis. Miyako (a major character in the manga who got shafted in the anime; she's the crazy street preacher with the bouffant hair) is still Asian. Kaori is still Asian. Colonel Shikishima is now Shackleton, Nezu is now Nellis. Its hard to tell with Kei and Ryu; they seemed to have been renamed Ray and Kay, but the fact that those names rhyme and the slight changes to their background a script review mentioned makes me wonder if those are code names, but its hard to tell.

I would like Kei to be American, because with Kaneda still being Asian, we can have the rare Asian male/white female pairing. Jennifer Lawrence would be a great pick. But anyway, most of that info comes from a two year old script review, and a recent one seems to confirm that they kept the mixed race cast and setting. If this succeeds, its a step in the right direction.

And plot wise, it sounds a little closer in line to the manga; I have long felt after reading it that Otomo was too close to his material to adapt it; changes he made for expediency made the rest of the story make less sense. the biggest change in the live action seems to be that Nellis/Nezu is more powerful politically in the manga and forces the Colonel to go on the defense.

The Zac Efron rumor was debunked, so I wonder if the Morgan Freeman as the Colonel rumor was BS, as well since it came out so close to the other rumor. I always figured that the Colonel would be the prestige casting; he could be played by the star the studio might demand and if they got whoever that is, they would allow Kaneda to stay Asian. Here's hoping. Studios need to realize that if they want to cast someone as a lead who appeals to women- non-Asian women DO like Asian men, you know.
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