Authenticity FAIL

May 26, 2009

When I first heard they were making a live-action film version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was super excited (yes, I’m a geek, I love cartoons, and I’m proud of it).

…Then I heard about their casting choices.

Now they just released the first few production photos:

Authenticity FAIL

Authenticity FAIL

Yep.  That’s a pic of Noah Ringer as Aang.  I mean, maybe Noah is great.  Perhaps he’s even a nice guy.

But honestly, when’s the last time you heard of a little white kid named “Aang”??

They might as well re-do the Bruce Lee story and cast some white dude for the lead…





Avatar: The Same Hollywood Shit

January 23, 2009

I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, but seriously folks… This nonsense has to stop.

I refer, of course, to the recent controversy surrounding the casting for the new Avatar: The Last Airbender movie.  The quick-and-dirty summary is that Hollywood, in their infinite wisdom, cast the movie with an entirely white cast (at least for all the lead characters… won’t be surprised if the evil dudes are Asian).  Why is this such a travesty?  Mostly because EVERYTHING ELSE about the series is Asian… The names of the characters, the sets, the costume design, the martial arts, the religious influences, the customs, the food, etc.  Everything.  No joke.  Check this blog for a plethora of visual aids…

Anyway, I won’t bore you with the same old stuff, because honestly, I’m getting a little tired of hearing myself say it.  So instead, I’ll point you guys to this great piece by Derek Kim: New day in politics, same old racist world on the silver screen.

One of the best quotes from Derek’s piece is the following:

I was speaking with Gene Yang (author of “American Born Chinese” and National Book Award nominee) about the casting and he said it best: “It’s like a white Asian fetishist’s wet dream. All the Asian culture they want, without any of the Asian people.”

Oh, and the actors have heard about the protests.  What do they think?  Check this excerpt from an MTV interview:

Due in theaters in summer 2010, “Airbender” has already begun to face a bit of controversy over the casting of white actors like Rathbone, Ringer and McCartney to play Asian characters — a concern the actor was quick to dismiss. “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan,” he said of the transformation he’ll go through to look more like Sokka. “It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.” 

Riiiight.  How about you tape your eyes back and put some buckteeth in too, while you’re at it?  

Read on


UPDATE: Jeff Yang over at the San Francisco Chronicle has joined the fray with his thoughtful commentary: Bent Out of Shape.

AllLookSame? People Magazine Says “YES!”

May 15, 2008

Okay. I’m a little late on this one, but this is pretty messed up… In the latest issue of People Magazine, they have a little profile/interview of Rain, the Korean pop superstar who has a small part in the new Speed Racer movie. Nice, right?

Right… Except the giant picture of “Rain” next to the interview is NOT RAIN:

The guy in that picture is Korean American actor Karl Yune, who also has a part in the movie. What the hell, man?? I guess black hair and squinty eyes = Asian in the People Magazine editor’s manual.


Hollywood Does It Again

March 25, 2008

Many people have read Ben Mezrich’s book, “Bringing Down the House,” about a team of MIT students that take on the casinos of Las Vegas and make a killing. It’s a fascinating read and a great story. It’s so great, in fact, that it’s being made into a movie called 21, starring Kevin Spacey as the MIT professor who put together this gambling team. Sounds great, right? Right.

OH WAIT… There’s one little detail the casting directors and producers forgot to take into account. See, the actual team of students was comprised mostly of Asian males. (You can probably see where I’m going with this…) So take a wiiiild guess as to what Hollywood decided to do! That’s right. Most of the team have been replaced by nice-looking white folks like Kate Bosworth and Jim Sturgess. Here’s an excerpt from an article on Ben Mezrich and his book:

Incidentally, Mezrich’s “Bringing Down the House” is now being turned into a feature film by Kevin Spacey, who will play the MIT professor who trained the blackjack team described in that book. During the talk, Mezrich mentioned the stereotypical Hollywood casting process — though most of the actual blackjack team was composed of Asian males, a studio executive involved in the casting process said that most of the film’s actors would be white, with perhaps an Asian female. Even as Asian actors are entering more mainstream films, such as “Better Luck Tomorrow” and the upcoming “Memoirs of a Geisha,” these stereotypes still exist, Mezrich said.

COME ON, Hollywood! Here was yet another chance to show how far they’ve progressed and they managed to fuck it up. Again. And this time, it wasn’t even like they were just making up some story and threw in some nerdy Chinese kids or a Korean grocery store owner with a hilarious accent. This time, they insisted on portraying people that ARE ACTUALLY ASIAN with people THAT ARE NOT ASIAN IN THE LEAST.

Yes, they did throw us a bone by casting Aaron Yoo and Liza Lapira as part of the team… And big, huge kudos to those two for getting in there! But really, Mr. or Ms. Casting Director… You couldn’t justify any more Asians in there, huh? They just don’t sell very well as three-dimensional, compelling, LEAD characters, do they? Yeah, I guess you’re right… Just give ‘em a couple of supporting roles and that’ll placate those little Asians, right?

Ugh. Anyhow, so rather than rage against the film machine out in California, I’ve decided to end this entry with something more powerful than anger. Something all of us Asian Americans have experienced time and again at the hands of our parents and family… That’s right. Guilt and shame!

*ahem* …

“Hollywood, you really disappointed me. Shame on you!” [shakes fist for good measure]