Originally Posted by DARKMITE8
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.