The mainly Asian lead characters of the cartoon series “Avatar: the Last Airbender” juxtaposed with the actors who will be playing them in Paramount’s upcoming big screen adaptation. From left: Aang played by Noah Ringer, Katara played by Nicola Peltz, Sokka played by Jackson Rathbone, and Zuko played by Dev Patel.

By GUY AOKI

In January 2001, Children Now, a non-partisan, national organization “for people who care about children and want to ensure that they are the top public policy priority,” issued a 36-page study titled “Fall Colors: Prime Time Diversity Report, 2001.” It outlined the preponderance of white males in television playing the heroes and people of color getting non-leadership roles mostly in service positions.

“As America’s primary storyteller and chief cultural exporter, television provides messages and images that contribute to the worldviews of millions. When certain groups are privileged, others subjugated and still others altogether excluded, prime time sends skewed messages to viewers-especially young ones-that these groups are valued differently. This in turn affects the way viewers perceive themselves and interact with particular groups. And youth want to see the diversity of their lives reflected on the prime time screen. As one Native American youth told us, ‘It makes you mad because you wish other people could get in there and not just whites, because they’re on everything.’”

An Asian Pacific American youngster said that when you watch TV, “You want to think, ‘I could do that. I could be there. That could be me in five or six years.’ But you don’t see anything of yourself, and you’re just like, ‘Oh, well maybe I just have to go do this [lower goal instead].’”

I imagine the people at Children Now were overjoyed with Nickelodeon’s Saturday morning cartoon series, “Avatar:  The Last Airbender.”  The popular series ran for three years and appealed to children-and adults-of all races even though the world was made up entirely of Asian and Inuit people. Kids fought over who was Aang, who was Sokka, and who was Katara. They were powerful.  They could achieve. They could aspire to the best of their abilities.

When Paramount announced they were doing a live action, big budget motion picture directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense), fans expected those roles to go to Asian and Asian American actors.  There was a nationwide casting call for unknowns to fill the roles of Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko. But in December 2008, the studio revealed that the four main stars were going to be white. Entertainment Weekly’s Web site was filled with 78 pages of comments, the majority from angry commentators vowing to boycott the white-washed project.

New Web sites sprung up expressing their outrage.  A group that eventually became Racebending.com (now more than 7000 members from over 50 countries) urged East West Players and MANAA to reach out to the producers in time to reconsider their choices. What particularly incensed them was the casting notice that called for “Caucasian or any other ethnicity.” Clearly, they had had a preference. No wonder they ended up with that line-up. Furthermore, a casting director, DeeDee Rickets, looking for extras, had told a Pennsylvania paper, “We want you to dress in traditional cultural ethnic attire. If you’re Korean, wear a kimono. If you’re from Belgium, wear lederhosen.”

Apparently, the woman didn’t know Korean from Japanese, Belgian from Bavarian. In February of 2009, singer Jesse McCartney dropped out only to be replaced by Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire.” He would be the villain of the piece and lead his Fire Nation against the Earth, Water, and Air Nations.

Both EWP and MANAA tried to meet with the producers that month, but they didn’t respond until a month-and-a-half later when casting was complete and shooting had begun. Sam Mercer, Frank Marshall and/or his producer wife Kathleen Kennedy (we don’t know because they only signed their letter “The Producers”) wrote: “The four nations represented in the film reflect not one community, but the world’s citizens. Their societies will be cast from a diversity of all races and cultures.”

In other words, when faced with an all-Asian project, they suddenly began caring about diversity—away from Asians—so they could include more white people. Can you imagine them freaking out when, on their other movies, they ended up with all-white casts?  Not me either. Hell, look at their long body of work. See any prominent Asians in any of them?  Nope. So is it a surprise they managed to wipe the slate clean of Asian heroes, replaced them with white people, and only allowed the Asians to be the villains?  Rhetorical question, my friends.

As word of MANAA’s dialogue with the producers got out, we received dozens of e-mails from people across the world begging us not to let up—to not let Paramount get away with this. Encouragingly, most of them were white, black, or Latino. They were incensed that Asian children couldn’t be the heroes in their own story.

They were going to boycott the film and tell their friends to do the same. In other words, the non-Asian audience the studio sought to seduce to see their project, wasn’t falling for it. Their cynical plan backfired.

In June of that year, Paramount President John Lesher, who developed the project with Shyamalan, was fired.  He was replaced by Adam Goodman. In November, as part of a coalition of organizations including MANAA, JACL, and IW Group who were outraged by another Paramount picture —“The Goods”—I met with Goodman and outlined our concerns. He promised to show me a pre-screening of the movie to prove to me it was far more diverse than I imagined. He insisted it wouldn’t be at the last minute either— not two weeks away from the film’s opening.

Well, we’re now two weeks away from the July 2nd debut. Despite an e-mail to Goodman in February when I heard the director was showing test screenings of the movie to audiences in Phoenix (and later, Chicago), Goodman said it wasn’t yet ready. Another overture last week wasn’t responded to by the time we went to press.

Paramount paid for a handful of website-owning geeks to fly to Virginia to meet with the director as he tried to put a positive spin on his controversial project.

This is how he defended taking an all-Asian project and making all the heroes white and all the bad guys Asian or brown: “Here’s the thing. The great thing about anime is that it’s ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It’s intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No, that’s just in our house. And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that’s what’s so beautiful about anime.”

Right. And obviously, what white people believe is more important than even your own daughter, so that’s why you ended up with your rather pale cast. Isn’t that “great?”

Why is this such a big deal? Because Hollywood writers rarely allow Asian people to be the heroes and stars of their own stories. So when studios take source material where we’re written to be just that… and still give it to white people… and then cast us as the villains… that’s just plain unforgiveable. We’re tired of being the comic relief and/or the villains who get beaten up. If you won’t let us be heroes when we’re written that way, when will you ever?

The fact that Shymalan is South Asian American only goes to show that people of all races can become co-opted by the institutionalized racism of the Hollywood system.  He’s just another sell-out who rationalizes perpetuating more white heroes when he could’ve had more integrity and cast us as the heroes and possibly launched several Asian American careers instead of…more white ones.

There were visionary directors in the ‘60s who said, “Screw the South. Sidney Poitier’s a great actor, we’ve got a great story to tell, and I’m making him the star of my movie.”

If it weren’t for people like that, we’d never have graduated to Denzel Washington or Will Smith, who is now a bigger box office draw than Tom Cruise.

Hollywood is ridiculously short-sighted in choosing which ethnic community their stars can come from. Everyone benefits from having popular actors of all races.  Why just from the white and black community? But if the M Night Shyamalans have their way, that’s all we’ll have 20, 30, and 40 years from now. We’ll only be reading more creative excuses for while we’re still seeing mostly white faces up there on the big screen.

When Rising Sun came out in 1993, MANAA didn’t call for a boycott of the movie. As disturbed as we were by the way the Japanese nationals were portrayed as taking over America with white henchmen killing in their interests, we told audiences, “If you choose to see the film, fine. Just keep our concerns in mind and see if you don’t agree.”

So why are we asking people to not see The Last Airbender? Because this is not about story or plot. It’s about discrimination. And if this $100 million film does well, two more sequels will be green lit on the backs of Asian American actors. Paramount will have gotten away with it. We can’t let that happen. Because it’ll only encourage more studios to keep doing it.

Two years ago, Sony did it with “21”:  It was based on a real-life story about an MIT professor who taught his math students how to win at black jack in Vegas. The professor, most of the students, and the guy who won the most money for the team, were Asian Americans. In the film, they were mostly white. The star of the picture was Jim Sturgess, a Brit who had to have a dialect coach on set so he could pretend to be an American! In both that case and Airbender, the producers weren’t depending on big names to sell their movie: It was the concept. Yet they still felt putting too many Asians on screen was too risky.

Recently, Mickey Rourke announced he was going to be playing Genghis Khan in a film! It never ends. But maybe you can help turn this train around. Boycott “The Last Airbender.”

Tell your friends and their kids to do the same. Support something else, spend moretime with your children, or donate money to your favorite charity.

Till next time, keep your eyes and ears open.

Note: To find more information on this topic, go to manaa.org/articles/html or Racebending.com

=    =    =    =

Guy Aoki, co-founder of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, writes from Glendale. He can be reached at guyaoki@yahoo.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Rafu Shimpo.

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  1. if sokka is Asian then why are his eyes blue? Do you realize less then 1% of asians have blue eyes? People need to get off the racism wagon, grow up and realize this is not burger king, not everything is made your way.

  2. When a Chinese guy was playing the role of jungle boy in Jungle Book, Indians did not complaint. Then, how come you have problem here?

    How come you also did not have a problem when a Chinese played the role in Memoirs of a Geisha?

  3. My comment is for Mr Okamoto. Your argument about boycotting the NBA, NFL is flawed because these organizations hire people according to their physical performance that usually REQUIRES height, strength, athleticism, etc. If any Asian or short person would possess the needed physical performance capabilities to do what ever position was needed, they would be chosen.

    So, if a 3 foot tall Asian man could clear out a path or block people like Anthony Munoz (Ex-USC and Bengal Offensive Tackle) did, then NFL teams would line up to have him play for them.

    But this is “Hollywood.” Parts are based mostly on who looks the part and who can act. In this case, it seems that Asians actors were not even considered for the main parts. They weren’t even given a chance.

    If you use the argument that the best actors were chosen and they just happen to be not-Asian, then where does that end? First, are you saying there are NO good Asian actors? Second, if for example, Tom Arnold was the best actor in the world, shouldn’t he be used in every movie whether it was for a male or female part? Asian or non-Asian part? No, it would be ridiculous. If they wanted these parts to be played by Asians, they would have found some Asians to play them.

  4. ZUKO IS THE HERO! Please watch the television show before you decide to comment on the race of the characters. The show features all races in every nation. This show was Asian inspired not based solely on Asian people and ideas.

  5. Look as long as there are people telling you not to watch it make sure it booms, go see it 100’s of times.

  6. I will definitely be seeing this movie mostly because the trailers look cool but also because I reject the lack of tolerance from those who cannot consider another’s viewpoints.

  7. I was so excited about seeing this movie. But now I will be boycotting it.
    It is highly offensive and saddening to me that this all Asian show is not ACCURATELY depicting the characters within the movie. It totally transforms the movie into something else. It is not the same Avatar the last airbender Ive grown to love and cherish. Not only are the characters in the show Asian but so are the nuances, demonstrating Asian belief systems, religions, and values and to transform the characters into white people makes no logical or linear since.
    This is ridiculous. I feel like crying. The more I think about the more upset i get…I dont know how the creators of this show let this happen.
    *And think about the confusion it will send to all the little psyches of the children who have been watching the cartoon for years, when suddenly clearly Asain characters become white.

  8. @ EB

    I don’t know if you noticed from the trailers but what appears to be an angry looking dwarf that they got to play aang is not the happy happy joy joy goof ball that is aang in the series.
    The pre-screening reviews found this movie to be crap and they knew nothing of the racism controversy or the cartoon series, so racism aside this is not looking to be a good movie, in fact the only thing probable to be good about it is the CGI and post Avatar that not a big deal anymore. It not hard to notice in Hollywood movies these day that generally the more the special effects the less developed the plot and characters. What happened to balanced movies, what happened to movies with great everything, this could have been Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon without the need for subtitles but no its @#$%ing Prince of Persia!

  9. At Eb:

    Firstly: Yeah, I feel that the water nation inhabitants are probably Inuit, not Asian. I agree with you on that. But Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz are most certainly not anything close to Inuit.

    Secondly, I don’t know if you could count vegetarianism among traits that are common to Americans. He was very clearly modeled with SOME American aspects, but the specific ones you cite make it seem like you’re saying that there are no non-american “carefree goofballs”. I don’t think that’s the case. I would argue that his most central cultural affiliation can be seen in the crafting of the air-nomads: based on precepts of Buddhism and Hinduism, which are (primarily) Asian religions.

    With that said, I will agree that there isn’t a need for Asian (or Inuit) actors to fill these roles. I think that it is entirely possible for an all-white cast to pull this off and make it a good and faithful adaptation. It would be easier if the races corresponding to the characters in the cartoon were more represented, but it’s not impossible. My concern is that these actor were NOT chosen based on the merit they showed alone, however. I feel that it is highly unlikely that there were not better or equal choices in other races.

    I should also say that, while the fact that this is probably indicative of a larger insensitivity in Hollywood and the United States at large, this isn’t even about racism primarily for me. If the producers of this movie didn’t see that, at it’s aesthetic heart, Avatar was a series set in an Asian world, then what else did they miss? How could they overlook this and not overlook other crucial elements of the series?

    I hope that I’m wrong and that this movie surprises me. But I doubt it.

  10. The characters of Avatar are clearly meant to be asian. If you think they look white and aren’t asian at all, you’re a f**&ing moron. It’s an asian based fantasy where every freaking inspiration is asian! And it is sad that the brilliant people at Paramount decided that most of the cast should be white.

    If you think “oh, they just hired the best person for the job. Hollywood is color-blind,” you’re as naive as it gets.

  11. boycotts generate greater interest in movies among people who were previously ignorant of the movie – the 14-23 year old male movie target audience doesn’t care. until we have more asian male sex symbols and asian boy bands [symbolS. bandS – the idea that halle berry broke some sort of barrier was ludicrous when she won the oscar – and as you can see from the flood of black actresses that have won since….], the discussion of casting of movies like airbender will remain a discussion and academic. a good start would be asian companies doing their share in using asians to plug products in their us/western world campaigns. macy’s sale circulars, sunset magazine, mail-order catalogues – i think it all starts there – in the meantime, we will continue to be invisible.

  12. A few points: Your own bias is showing through.

    For transparency, I’m from a Scottish-Irish-British background. White as fresh snow.

    This is probably coloured (see what I did there?) by my upbringing amongst a great deal of discussion about the rights and mistreatments of First Nations but I always figured Sokka and Katara were Inuit. You know, First Nations, and… Yeah. Good luck getting any of the Natives around here in Vancouver to say “Yeah, we’re asian!”

    As for Aang, colour pallette aside, he’s an American kid. Asian or not, he’s this fun loving, carefree goofball. That’s the essence of his character, not what colour pallette he was drawn with.

    As for the rest of the characters, there are strong asian themes (especially in architecture) throughout the series but lets not confuse the issue: The characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender have no universally corresponding racial identities.

    Some Earth Kingdom folks look asian, others look white, Zukko looks kind of asian while his sister looks white, his mother is sort of.. yeah. You starting to see a picture here?

    Avatar isn’t a show, or a movie, about asian people. It’s a cartoon retelling of a heroes’ journey set in a world inspired by certain aspects of ancient culture. Including, yes, a whole bunch of asian inspirations.

    Stop complaining about it being “white washed.” If you want to talk white washed, go look at X-2. That was downright offensive how the only non-American character is the goddamn blue faced monster.

    But did you ever notice that? You know, since he’s German and they’re white. Probably complained about Jubilee instead. Feh.

  13. Response to common arguments

    “But this movie and its sequels will have so much diversity”

    Having white protagonist and multi-racial stock/background characters is not diversity, its tokenism, later in a sequel we may get an Asain in with the 3 white protagonist, that too is blatant tokenism! And placing Indians and Arabs as the evil villains is not diversity, its stereotyping, and hoping that by the 3rd movie handful of them turn good does not make up for that.

    “But in the TV show it was so hard to tell if anyone was not white”

    The producers and animators have specifically stated the characters were Asian, that it was an Asian fantasy world and that many characters were based off of living Asian people. If you could not tell this because you need to see stereotypical slanted eyes and buck teeth to distinguish Asian-ness, that your problem.

    “This movie will be great!”

    Read the pre-screening reviews! One pre-screener said “We were told we were the first to watch this movie, and I hope we are the last!” all the pre-screening reviews claimed it was not palatable for anyone over 12! And these people had no clue about the original series or the controversy of the casting and mentioned nothing of it, the movie sucked on its own lack of viable plot pacing, acting and dialog so they claim.

    “Stop complain and shut up!”

    Why don’t you tell them to sit in the back of the bus while your at it, come on its only the back of the bus what the big deal?

    “The majority of people think this racism claim is BS”

    The majority of people 500 years ago thought the world was flat, the majority of people 50 years ago thought only white people should sit in the front of the bus and today the majority of people think only whites (an black people) but no one else can play protagonist or predominate roles.

    “But Americans can’t related to an all Asian cast”

    Yeah and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon made 125 million in the USA alone.

    “Racism is dead”

    According to the statistics its not. Black people are the only ones that today get movies roles percentages equal to their population (about 10%), Asian Americans represent 5% of American and only 1.6% of acting roles, and those roles include stock characters and stereotypes. Paramount pictures though has made 0% of any of their movies with an Asian in a primary role. Movies like “21” are stunning examples of blatant racism. Racism is alive and well, at least in Hollywood.

    “Your just a reverse-racist asain!”

    I’m a jew, sephardic jew.

  14. I don’t see how anyone can support a movie with a plot the boils down to “3 white kids save all the other races from the evil indians/arabs” in a story that was clearly an Asian based fantasy world. Look at the statistics: Asians, Mexicans, native Americans all get grossly underrepresented in Hollywood movies made today, and when they do get air time they are put up as stock characters or worse stereotypes! Racism is still around, its not dead, its a fire that still burns if only just under the ashes. If Asians Americans have to fight like blacks did to get equal representation so be it, I support that fight, F this movie!

  15. We should all do what Guy Aoki says and boycott this movie. He is profound, he is full of wisdom, he thinks for us, and he knows what is best for us. He will not rest until the world conforms to his race-based reality. Resistance is futile. Merit is irrelevant. Opinions of others doesn’t matter. Racism in favor of Asians is all that matters.

  16. Boycotting this movie is definitely NOT my public duty. My public duty is to be a good, upstanding citizen. How dare you try to force this clearly unjustified boycott on people? It’s a cartoon for God’s sakes. This is the kind of thinking that will ruin America, bringing issues like race into something as innocent as a children’s cartoon. The producers of this cartoon are white, the voice actors for the most part, are white and the characters do not all look Asian. Yes its lovely that the series was Asian inspired, but key word is “inspired”. The show did not take place in Asia but in a fantasy universe. Furthermore, the movie rights were sold to Shyamalan. It’s his property and he’s free to do whatever the hell he wants to do with it, whether the fans like it or not. Let’s just be thankful that he is making what appears to be a rather respectful and faithful adaptation of the source material, for he might have very well gone Dragon Ball Evolution on us. This is hollywood, not fanfiction. We are not in control. Thank you and goodnight.

  17. I’m a late 30-something male Ozark American, honky white guy, whatever you want to call it; and for the most part racism is dead except for idiots like this. I’ve seen a lot of racism and good never comes out of it. If morons like this would let go of their hate and quit trying to find a cause that focuses attention on themselves and get a life, racism would be extinct. But people that hang on to it are a lonely pitiful bunch. I’ve watched the whole animated series and not once did race cross my mind other than the water tribe seems to resemble the Native Americans, the Fire Nation seems to represent Asians, the Air Nomads seem to represent Hindu-Indians, and the Earth Kingdom seems to represent a little of every culture. But all of these are simply people. Like when the Earth Kingdom Nomads said to Aang, Kitara and Sokka, “Hey river people.” and their response was, “no, just people.” and he replied back “Aren’t we all.” This can be found in the Cave of Two Lovers episode in series two. That’s enough right there to teach kids that people are people regardless.

  18. This is the craziest thing I’ve heard of. Do you people realize that the story of the last airbender is an epic and that Aang and Zukko both have to take an adventure to find their personal purpose in life? SPOILER ALERT… Zukko becomes a hero at the end! Zukko’s adventure and obsession with capturing Aang eventually leads him into helping defeat the Fire Lord. This is a great story that children love because even if they might not make the best choices at first, they can always do better and redeem themselves. Its about forgiveness.Why wouldn’t we want to teach these values to our children? So sorry, I don’t see this as a racial issue at all. I have no idea what your problem might be. Instead of looking at the cover of things, look at what lies beneath and you might find a treasure.

  19. I think you are missing the point! The Last Airbender is a good movie! So many movies are violent are degraded. This is a great family movie or just let your kids go and you can feel good about it. I really hope it makes lots of money so Hollywood gets the message (make uplifting movies). You need to get a life if all you do is spend time putting down movies because you don’t like the race. You know your the racist here!

  20. Who the hell wrote that he is eating whale meat…….Guy Aoki? or some random commentator?

    No matter who you are…….Let me tell you something………i hate Asian fishermen who, for F****** money, kill dolphins and whales and sharks. If i see you in person, you will regret it for what you are doing and to all the Asians who love these type of meat, i dont know what to say, you just have no respect in this world, but taking advantage that suits you.

    I don’t know why this guy brought up this topic in this forum……

    And its true the Characters in the series do not look 100% Asian…..please understand that before you make up your assumptions….

  21. Would hollywood consistently turn white comic book characters into people of color?

    Batman,Superman,etc

  22. I am Mexican-American, but my culture is basically american, i barely speak spanish. I listen to music in english, I dont eat beans or tortillas everyday. My culture is american, not mexican. I dont look american, like with blue eyes and blonde hair, I’m actually a brunette with really dark brown eyes. Just because my culture is american doesnt mean I look american, same with the last airbender, just because is BASED on asian culture doesnt make them asian, so please stop with your bs, this movie is going to be the best. Dont even bring kids in this because they dont see race, I have a little cousin with small eyes and black hair who thinks she’s ariel, when she actually looks more like mulan, and when i call her mulan she gets mad lol, kids dont see race or physical similarities, they want to be who they connect with the most no matter how they look. This whole boycotting thing is absurd and a waste of time, well for ya’ll .

  23. The thing about this is it’s all about money. Execs don’t care about race, they care about how much money a particular movie will put into their pockets. Since white people are still the majority in the nation, they appeal to that majority in an effort to make a guaranteed profit. If that changes, then you’ll see more lead roles going to people who aren’t white.

    My person opinion is that it’s all racist. If you only go to a movie because there a white people in it, that’s racist. If you don’t go to a movie because there’s only white people in it, that’s racist. Since this is about money and not race, why don’t we all stop the hating and get over ourselves!

  24. Did it ever occur to you that M Night is Indian too? And HE MADE THE MOVIE?
    You idiots need to simmer the f**k down.

  25. I have posted a comment above, which is the 9th from the top. I hope that i wasn’t one of the commentators who spoke disrespectfully. But seriously,Mr.Guy Aoki, let the people decide IT THEY WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE. And TO THE GUY who thought most of the the COMMENTATORS are FUNDED by Paramount, THINK logically, how many people do you think are going to read this article (before they go to see the movie) and how does it represent the audience, its not even a 1/100 of them at maximum. So Paramount wouldn’t waste money on that, considering their latest movies do not provide them with enough profit.

    PLEASE USE YOUR BRAINS people (to the media action group and some of the commentators)…….

    Its also true that Asians actors are growing like crazy in HOLLYWOOD. I don’t think, perhaps the majority of the intended audience, will not think of the movie as racist. So you shouldn’t be UPSET, considering many other nations who are barely existent in western culture and Hollywood, and how they feel about it. Do you really THINK M.Night Shyamalan is RACIST, he didn’t cast 99% of the actors and actresses. SO TO THOSE DUMMIES WHO THINK M.NIGHT is RACIST and needs to be thrown in the jail (its true SOME IDIOTS actually had comments like these), you need to get shot in your balls. You have no respect in others, then disapproving your existing life. M.Night is trying to thrive with this movie because of his previous flops. I really think all of his movies were great except Happening only. And i think, with his responsibilities, he did a great job with this movie.

    I ALSO AGREE with one of the comments, that HOLLYWOOD is not racist, because their main targeted audience is America and Europe. Please there are only a few asian actors with perfect accent, which is important for the audience.

    PLEASE don’t spoil it for the millions of other viewers who want to watch this movie and their sequels. If you want to support the fans, then you (Guy Aoki) would watch the movie in theatres so the fans could see their entire beloved series. Not like the idiots who doesn’t want to support this movie but they WILL watch it by using torrents illegally. That just doesn’t make sense. They don’t want the sequel to come out by not paying in the theatres, but they want to SEEEEE this movie by download, i mean WTF.

    To all of you racebenders, don’t think you are the only fans out there for Avatar: The last airbender. There is this 80% of the fans who wants to see the entire series on the big screen. You are the minority in this case, you are just about 20%, not 100% of the fans out there. Please don’t ruin it for them.

    Again, IF PEOPLE WANT TO SEE THIS, Then SEE IT……Please do not listen to these kind of boycotts, which doesn’t thrive on its own.

  26. Exuse me ,but toph will be asian in the second movie ok the only reason theres no asian heros is because we this movie hasnt gotten to movie two where toph appears and toph is the only one who looks asian because of her hair and her hair. Aang doesnt look asian in the show. The guy who’s playing him looks just like him. An asian just wouldnt match him. But seriously the kyioshi warriors are gonna be asian in this film and they werent in the show ok. Why are people complaining about race anyway huh its about how good the actors are thats why zuko is indian rather than asian or white like he looked like in the show cuz in the show he looked white and sounded white the only one that sounded asain was iroh and only FEW people in the show looked asian. Its just their environment thATS ASIAN. AND THE WATER TRIBE WASNT ASIAN AT ALL. SO DONT SAY THIS WHOLE TV SHOW IS ASIAN. AND EVEN THOUGH NOT ALL THE EARTH KINGDOM WAS ASIAN THE MOVIE HAS THE WHOLE EARTH KINGDOM ASIAN. OK OK OK DONT YOU DARE CALL SHAMALAN AND HIS TEAM RACIST IF YOU DONT KNOW CRAP

  27. if the writer of this article knew what they were talking about, they would have realised that the “enemy” actually becomes good in the story. maybe you should research and learn your stuff before you write rubbish like this. people read too much into things, just go and watch the movie.

  28. I will join your boycott if you join my boycott. My action network is boycotting the NFL and NBA as these racist organizations lack Asian and American Indians and Short People. We have been successful in getting Asian atheletes into professional golf and would like to parlay our success. Think I live in a fantasy world. Wake up you are too. I am glad you got almost a dozen people from all over the WORLD to encourage you to keep up the fight. No one takes you seriously and it shows in the treatment that studios and others (more than a dozen, if you can count) commentators. I am sick of you liberals types with self serving agendas. Quit wasting space on the Rafu, at least your piece has entertainment value. Anyway thanks for encouraging me to go watch this movie and to tell others to do the same.

  29. What’s it going to take for people to say enough is enough? They’ve whitewashed Goku, Aang, and Ghengis Khan. Next they’ll be whitewashing Bruce Lee. Boycott “The Last Airbender.” The cartoon was fantastic, but the film was obviously made by people who had no understanding of the material they were working with. It’s so sad it had to happen to such a good show.

  30. Like I give a f**k whether the cast is american or asian or asian american or indian.

  31. If you look at Guy’s columns on this site, you can see he regularly spews racist rhetoric. I notice that his columns (like this one) regularly get low ratings which is a positive sign – at least the Rafu readership rejects his sickness.

    I have to respect the Rafu for giving him a forum – at least you can say they allow writers with diverse viewpoints, even if Guy’s is off the charts. This is the first time I can recall that his opinion column has been front and center on the home page, but if the goal was to provoke the readership…well, it worked!

  32. This is another Asian racist, Asian supremacist hiding behind a cloak of anti-racism to attack this film.

    The film is influenced by the Asian cultures, but includes all kinds of cultures and it takes place in a fictional world.

    Buddhism was brought to East Asia from Indian monks, so East Asians like Aoki have no more right to claim it than some random white people.

    In fact, there were White Buddhist monks before Chinese or Japanese, they were called Tocharians and they were from far Western China. The Chinese government found the remains of their civilization in the 1970’s and they had mummies that were well preserved.

  33. I liked this article, and don’t let these astounding number of comments saying you’re the racist idiot bother you. This is a problem, and it is real. This would not be such a huge issue if asian actors and actresses did have a real presence as heroes or un-stereotypical characters in the US media at all. Asian women are in film of course, but they’re almost always partnered and fall in love with white men, just think how many happy asian couples, or strong Asian male heartthrobs you’ve seen on TV? Or how many serious, respected asian woman get great acting roles…… Jackie Chan is the only asian leading man, many americans are exposed to and who is widely popular in media, and he’s an a-sexual kung-fu master, who plays the comedy relief side character, and speaks only in broken english, while the other guy usually makes fun of him and gets the girl. And thats not cool, I’m assuming he has more range as an actor or are whites the only ones fit to play in all media outlets. But also, on the other hand Jackie Chan does seem to be a pretty comedic person in general and maybe doesn’t want to get too serious in acting roles, and thats fine.
    But its a very stereotypical role he plays, and people have said it repeatedly, he’s one of the only strong popular asian actors out there, and of course he’s playing very boxed in classic roles only. And that’s NOT OK. and Bruce Lee in terms of America embracing him doesn’t count. He was a huge, great action film star, for a long time in Asia before the US ever gave him any attention. It’s not like US Hollywood gave him his big break or anything, just the opposite they took several shows and opportunities away from him because he was asian. They just embraced an already famous talented film actor, and allowed his movies to play over here, after he worked to be a success in his ventures.
    so the dude’s very cool, and I and many people like him, but not a real example .
    Name any asian male actors that get serious respected acting roles or ever play heart throbs? (there’s always one exception, but really its a minimal number, and that’s the point it should be more common and not so uncommon for asians to have a voice in media) I mean honestly I don’t think this is a malicious vindictive plot cooked up by the white man to keep asians down in the media, but whatever its cause it is a real issue.
    Asians are the invisible race… look around, everyone jokes there’s always the token black guy in films and on TV but where’s the token Asian characters. They don’t even get that usually, and that in and of itself is Damn Offensive.
    Aside from Asian women being beautiful and exotic desired sexual partners for men, asian characters aren’t present in media. Not MUCH and not nearly as strongly or commonly in any shape or form as white actors, or black actors.
    And that just needs to be considered and not continue to happen so commonly all the time. That’s all, last time I checked a lot of people are Asian like hmmm….. over HALF of THE freaking world. So what’s the big deal with casting them in roles, and in this case especially for roles that were blatantly written for ASIANS (that is what the writers and creators of the cartoon called for and created). regardless of the weak anime excuse now being used by PR people to make the studio appear to be nothing but- the open minded color-blind film producers-they may want to be. This was a dumb call. and just as a fan (not only as a person) pissed me off, I mean these actors are not at all what I pictured.. Its retarded plain and simple.
    Seriously though If they wanted true diversity, and they really wanted to use that argument, each of the 4 main stars in the film should have been of all different ethnicities and races. Possibly 1 white, 1 black, 1 asian, 1 latin, and that still wouldn’t reflect many other ethnicities. But that would have given credence to their human diversity argument, but they didn’t do that so that’s a static argument.
    I and this author, are just trying to say that this is an issue in hollywood, and that if hollywood doesn’t fix or acknowledge it like they should, then as customers and audience members, maybe we should exercise our right to make our concern known, by hitting these companies in the only capacity they seem to ever take into account, in their box office earnings, because they didn’t listen to concerned fans and people, who wrote to them and were upset, so maybe this will help get the message across and that’s just fine I think, and shows principle.
    Just open your eyes… really I challenge everyone disputing this to really notice how many un-stereotypical, or any asian characters there are on tv. I try to always be anally objective with things and I’ve noticed for years there still aren’t many and I’m always surprised and happy when i see one, who’s funny and not wrapped in stereotypes there, its nice, but not very common. It of course happens but not alot.
    ….as silly as just taking asian studies a couple times and doing asian stereotyping in the US reports is, …. I have done them and it does open your eyes to these issues, and it’s surprising and consistent that they are so present in some areas of life.
    This guy is upset because asian actors aren’t given at least somewhat of fair shake in the media, and this is just another instance of that happening again, and So not cool.
    Just because people don’t run around screaming nig#er, ch+nks, or have lynchings in their backyards does not mean racism and racist inequalities are all behind us, over, and completely done with, in all walks of life in the US, and especially in mainstream issues.
    In some areas of life they still do exist, and clearly in US hollywood rather unintentionally or whatever, or if its just because they’re trying to play and program to mostly white audiences, and they think these castings will help them sell better, it is there.
    Just because most everyday cool people, nowadays are kind and could, for the most part I hope, care less about a person’s race, and are very open and accepting, and just is not an issue at all to them,
    Doesn’t mean all industries, opportunities, and treatments of different ethnic groups are also that fair and open minded also. And in hollywood things just happen to not be great for asian actors, and other ethnic groups other than whites, and it just simply should not be that way. It should be acknowledge and simply fixed…. I’m good w/ this boycott because I thought I was the only goonie not seeing this movie, for that very same reason. But it looks like I’m not. Touché author I support you + this boycott. Gracias for this article, Adios.

  34. Well, spoiler alert!
    If the trend continues that firebenders are brown and earthbender asian, then the sequels will prominently feature two non-white main characters. In particular, the enemy listed above is the character I appreciated and connected with most in the show. I have no problem that he is Indian, and I am white.

  35. The Water Kingdom was never a white kingdom. Where are you people getting that from. I see that you never even seen the Cartoon series. The Inuit are not white but Native American eskimos. AANG is Asian perferably Chinese if he was from a Buddhist Monestary in China. I can’t believe all these racist comments here. This just makes me sick that Paramount is going backwards instead of forward with all their Racism.

  36. wow, most of these comments seem to have come from folks who didn’t even read the article. . . or were they just too dim to understand it? maybe they are all tweens!?! what do i expect from people who are all excited and prioritize awesome movies over real lives and real cultural histories. racism is so much more than a black/white issue.

  37. OK I DIDNT EVEN READ THIS WHOLE PAGE ABOUT U BOYCOTTING THE LAST AIRBENDER, BUT I DONT THINK U SHOULD PUT IT DOWN THAT MUCH. M. NIGHT IS PRETTY GOOD ABOUT HIS FILMS, WEIRD BUT HES GOOD. I THINK HE WILL DO GOOD WITH THE GRAPHICS AND SUCH. I UNDERSTAND THEY DIDNT CAST PPL THE WAY PPL WANTED THEM TO, I WAS KINDA MAD TOO. I JUST WANT THE ACTORS TO LOOK LIKE THE CHARACTERS IN THE SHOW, BUT ITS HARD TO JUST CAST WHO EVER U WANT. BUT AASIF MANDVI AND CLIFF CURTIS ARE 2 BIG ROLES AND THEIR CHARACTERS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE ASIAN BUT THEY THEM SELVES ARE INDIAN OR SOMETHING, BUT ISNT INDIA CONSIDERED A PART OF ASIA LOL. THEY ARE GOOD ACTORS, EVEN THOUGH THEY REALLY DONT LOOK LIKE THE CHARACTERS IM SURE THEY WILL DO GOOD JOB. I CAN SEE HOW U THINK THEY ALL ARE ASIAN, THE WRITING IN THE STORY THE CHINESE KUNG FU, ETC.. BUT ITS WRONG TO JUDGE A MOVIE U HAVE NOT SEEN YET, SO WHY DONT U GIVE IT A CHANCE. AND BTW I THINK BUT DONT KNOW, MY PERSON OPINION ON WHAT THE PPL LOOK LIKE IN THE SHOW… WATER TRIBE-NATIVE AMERICAN INIDIANS, EARTH KINGDOM-CAUCASIAN/ MAYBE ASIAN, AIR NORMAD-CHINESE, FIRE NATION-CHINESE OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. SO YEA, LET EM BE AND GO SEE THE MOVIE!!!! HAHA

  38. As an AVID Avatar fan, i have to say i am truely saddened that this movie will be full of non asians. I am a Latina who lives in New Mexico, so i have no particular bias toward wanting to see Asians on the Big Screen, but as someone who sat religiously over the three year period watching and anxiously awaiting the next show and what Aang, Katara, and sokko were going to get into next, i have to say it SUCKS big time that we will once again see white folks co-opting cultures, and saving the world!! more like BUYING the world, that is what they are doing, spending money to keep themselves on top, if you dont get it, then your part of the system that makes it so successful.
    My gosh, someone above actually said, “what if they were just better actors” REALLY?? could you be that ignorant to think that in all of the Asian world, with all its population that they could not find ONE better actor than the four whites that play major roles.
    Yes, i love the role of Zoko, who eventually plays a pivotal role in the success of the airbender, but we still only see people of color in major roles when it means they have to turn their back on their own. Zoko is disowned by the fire nation and eventually is their downfall, WOW, why are we even complaining about this, it is the same old script, same ol’ sh*t, on how they have erased our histories, filled them with white heros and allowed stories of people of color heros that turn their back on their own kind.
    boycott or not, is definately a choice, either way we have to have these conversations about race and mainstream, i hope that all that dont “get it” will start to ask yourselves these questions when you watch movies, tv, videos: how are people of color portrayed in this? who is the hero, what do they look like? SHOOT, even Hale Barry had to have sex with a white man to get her great honor. the that fact that so many ignorant above are outraged by your call for boycott is amuzing. thanks for fighting the good fight, with words and not violence,
    again, i am saddened by the cast of this movie

  39. WHEN will you see the light, an indian must not be an asian and must be biased against asians? M night is true indian not american indian mind you. WE DON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN. You can spend your time pointing out how people are being biased, and unfortuneately there is some of this going on. But when you look at how the interview process went and two Key facts that make the gentleman playing Aang a perfect candidate, the truth emerges. Not only is this a look alike for the nickelodeon show that did so well, and was awesome by the way. But he is a martial arts expert as well. BUT YOU WANT TO STIR UP PEOPLES EMOTIONS BECAUSE YOUR ANGER HAS BLINDED YOU TO THE POINT THAT YOU ATTACK BUT SHOW NO SPECIFICS OTHER THAN GENERAL KNOWLEDGE. Is this because you know this is going to be such a popular show that you might be heard. Start by being more intelligent, then you will get followers. But quit trying to get peoples attention under false pretenses. put your anger where it really belongs. I find it hard to believe you do not know better. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. Not yelling by the way Capitol letters help make key points center of focus. This has been done since before there were cell phones or internet. And before PAUL ALLEN and BILL GATES paid the man who invented the peel back band-aid, and pudding/jello cups a thousand dollars for his invention now known as the mouse. As Stan Lee marvel hero creator says “NUFF SAID”. STOP THE HATRED, EDUCATE THE MASSES.

  40. wow you sound racist too,i dont like the movie altough i like the cartoon .besides even though the cartoon have asian influence on it but i dont think aang the main character look like a white or an asian.

  41. As a father of half American half Asian children I find you “boycott” to be absurd. I don’t teach my kids to see the color of a person but the person themselves.

    I guess when they watch children shows or movies that have gerbils, ducks or whatever other type of animal playing the main role and act it out I should tell them you can’t do that because the gerbil is black or the duck is yellow and your not that color. Or when my son watches Star Wars and says he is Chewbacca…..sorry son you don’t have fur?

  42. furthermore……..how do you think shyamalan cast the film?

    do you think this happened?

    m.night: and you are?

    asian boy: jin kwon

    m.night: so your east asian…….i dont like east asians go away…..oooo look theres a white kid im going to hire him for my movie.

    …………..

    no idiots how it works is film directors hire actors that they consider good……….hes didnt hire anyone on their race………..he hired all actors because they were right for the part.

    its a shame that there are some thick people that just plainly dont understand that.

  43. shut up with all your boycotting no one cares………..you are wrong accept it.

    explain how a movie can be racist when theres 2 indian, a maori, an iraian, a filipino, 2 koreans, 3 caucasians, etc etc

    my god racebenders are thick they just do not understand………shame really your gonna miss out on a really good movie.

  44. Please we all the fans know SUKO is far from being a villian !
    he is pretty much the second main heroe in the movie.
    He just play an hurt ,angry and confused kid that want his DAD aceptance by regaining his honor capturing the avatar.
    At the end of the series he is a heroe too.
    Plus Toph another of the heroes in the series and the earth kingdom are going to be asian, this book is about the book water we willl not see them until the second movie book two earth.
    So we will have as heroes whites, asian and middle east.
    I think the message of balance and aceptance of the show it has more meaning if the movie include all the races in our REAL world .

    Fire nation is cast as middle east , india and latinos .

    North water tribe is white (soka and katara are descendants from north water tribe)

    south water tribe is being cast as eskimos or other etnicity with the native american looking.

    And earth kingdom will be cast as asian and will have an african town also because is the biggest land mass.
    I seen philipinos ,latinos,middle east, whites and asian in the cast
    I don’t see that diversity as racist
    Noah ringer look mixed just wacth the picture you used for this they look alike with the cartoon
    and the really ones that look
    white, white are sokka and katara.
    Just two persons? That is descrimination when everybody else look mixed or another race?
    Please people!

  45. Amen to that! I may not be Asian, but I think I know a thing or two about being left out so much – my ancestral country, Serbia, is frequently represented (when it’s mentioned) by TERRORISTS. So yeah, I can totally get it.

    Pah – again with the ‘Anime is not Japanese’ argument these complainers are giving. First, A:tlA is NOT Anime. It’s an American television series in Anime STYLE. But the people of that world are clearly Asian – despite odd eye colours, they are Asian. I always saw them as such and continue to do so even now. The idea that a white male must save the Asian world from themselves is ludicrous and racist – especially when that male wasn’t white in canon.

    And of course, you’re right – when we get medieval fantasy everyone’s white – even if the world is covered in them – but mention an Asian world, and suddenly we need ‘diversity’? For pity’s sake, how would the WHITE community have felt if Aragorn from Lord of the Rings – a definitive Western hero – was turned ethnic for the sake of so-called ‘diversity’?

    I rest my cast.

    I don’t know what I can do, but I DO want to help stop this franchise from getting off the ground. Maybe then Hollywood will get it through their thick heads that sometimes, Race Matters!

  46. Before I start I just want to say that It’s your right to boycott whatever you please. Now, maybe it’s just the way I see the show, but there are only Asian undertones in the plot because it was intended to feel like a Japanese anime. Although the creators paid homage to Asian culture, at no time did they explicitly say that the characters were from a certain country (or region for that matter). The characters exist in a world that was made up and is separated into air, water, earth, and fire–not into racial groups in contemporary terms–so how can you really compare it to the world we live in? Race really plays no role in this story. And honestly, if all you paid attention to in this story was the color of the characters and an undertone of Asian culture, you missed the many lessons that were taught in this story and I feel sorry for you. If you can’t appreciate it for the wonderful story that was told, then you shouldn’t go see it anyway. But hey, that’s just me. Like I said, do as you please.

  47. I am appalled at the responses to the article. Are you people so foolishly blinded by Hollywood’s depiction of society roles and standards that you follow it as a dog would chase a bone?

    First off, M Night Shamalyan is NOT Asian. He was born on the Asian continent, but that does not in any way that constitute him as an Asian. Mexico is part of the North American continent, but no way are they Americans (ask Arizona).

    This insert does the best comparison, I highly suggest you read the full article ( full credit goes to him):
    http://derekkirkkim.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-day-in-politics-same-old-racist.html

    “Or let me draw a closer parallel—imagine if someone had made a “fantasy” movie in which the entire world was built around African culture. Everyone is wearing ancient African clothes, African hats, eating traditional African food, writing in an African language, living in African homes, all encompassed in an African landscape…

    …but everyone is white.

    How offensive, insulting, and disrespectful would that be toward Africans and African Americans? How much more offensive would it be if only the heroes were white and all the villians and background characters were African American? (I wince in fear thinking about “The Last Airbender” suffering from the latter dynamic—which it probably will.)”

    Guess what, maybe the race is never implied, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out the origins, basis, or inspiration from. In Avatar: The Last Air Bender, people are drawn a yellowish or light browish color, eat with chopsticks, wear asian clothes, come from Asian countries, use Asian martial arts, and write in Asian characters. Does Batman, Superman, Spiderman all proudly state they’re white? No, so maybe they should be played by Asian characters since they never stated their nationality. Oh, but their names are Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent, and Peter Parker, those are white names, and they don’t do martial arts or karate or kung fu. That only shows your ignorant, one-sided mentality and stereotype of Asians.

    To the first post, how dare you call it narrow-minded and low. Have you ever lived a life of being repressed due to the different color the skin, a different heritage, culture, language? This is America, where everyone has an equal freedom and equal right. However, Hollywood has taken it upon themselves to remind society that only WHITE people can excel, only WHITE people can succeed, and everyone else should hope we can scoop up the scraps left behind (which in this film, doesn’t even do it justice). You say ruin a movie for a few million that are anticipating the movie, but what of the greater millions and millions of Asians that are simply brushed aside unless they can karate chop their way to the top.

  48. I wondered the same thing about the Dragonball Z movie that came out. Now THAT I did not get.

    They can at least switched Jackson’s and Dev’s characters because Sokka is darker and Zuko is lighter… We’ll see how it all plans out.

  49. I think that maybe you should look at other asian role models in american movies you haven’t given credit for. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, what’s his face from Mortal Kombat. Hiro from Heros.There’s many people you should be proud of. Also Ninja Assassin, that guy won an award even.

    It’s fustrating when the popular media doesn’t hold fictional characters that look exactly like you do.
    Mulan in Mulan, she was neat.
    Nope they’ve never made a mexican princess in Disney. Arabian, french, white, african american, indian etc. Doesn’t mean I don’t see the kind of person I am in those models.

    You can’t be worried about judging the choices other people make. For all you know you’re misinterperting them.

    Also, why is hollywood so important anyway? Black people make movies with black people in them, Asians make movies with asians in them, mexicans make movies with mexicans in them, doesn’t mean I’ma stomp in on their production studios to complain about how they didn’t give my people a fair role in a movie.

  50. I can see why you’re upset about this, but have you considered that these people are just better actors? Maybe they had asians audition, but these people just suit the characters. Watch the movie and then judge in weather the actors abilities were up to scratch. Don’t base this on race

  51. Guy, you refer to “the institutionalized racism of the Hollywood system.” The institutional racism is not in Hollywood but in the Media Action Network for Asian Americans. Stop pretending that you represent anyone other than the members of your own racist, myopic, shameful embarrassment of an organization. Let’s see here. M. Night Shyamalan, the writer, director, and producer of this movie is himself Asian! So the Asian director is biased against Asians! Nice one Guy! I probably would have skipped this movie but when a racist tells me to boycott a movie then I want to fight racism by going to the movie.

  52. I loved the series so much I’m definitely going to watch the movie. But I’m also going to boycott the movie by watching it online for free. I don’t care to watch it immediately I’ll be patient till a very good quality link pops up online.

    Thank you Paramount for giving me a reason not to part with my money, especially in this tough economic times

  53. I’d point out that for those that don’t know how the source cartoon series progresses, the role of Zuko is actually the most interesting out of the four leads from the first movie. He was my favorite main character, and he’s much more complex than being the “bad guy non-Caucasian”. Plus, his uncle is clearly not a villain and is one of the most powerful characters in the series. Of course, if you boycott the movie and they don’t make the sequels, which would focus on the Asian (Earth, movie 2) and Middle-Eastern (Fire, movie 3) kingdoms rather than the Caucasian Water kingdom in the first movie, and which will add an Asian lead (Toph) starting from the second movie, you will never know…

  54. Obvisouly the majority population will not relate or understand to this situation, and the sad thing is not all minorities will either. For those that do understand, we would love to see one of our people in the main spot light doing amazing things and teaching great morales that isn’t sterotypical. It gives us something to believe in ourselves that we can do more than we are potrayed, it gives us pride that we can stand next to other talented groups of people without being shun upon or judged. It is hard for some people to understand because it doensn’t have that affect on them because most likely they’re the majority of the population.

    And for Alastair, you are right there are a lot of problems in the world but you are underestimating how powerful a movie can influence people and just because this isn’t a “problem” for you doesn’t mean it’s not for others. Besides I bet you’re not doing anything better for the world anyways.

  55. When I watched Avatar, I always thought there were people of all races or indeterminate race, and the only problem I had was the cartoon’s complete lack of any king of cues that might hint at there being black people.

    Once I thought about it, I figured that they had purposely mixed up the racial pointers to purposely avoid race in most cases. Still, I was really troubled by the absence of anything really resembling black people.

    From what I have heard, this movie will actually include black people. Thank goodness!

    I have also heard that the second film will feature an Earth Nation that is truly Asian and black!

    All this leaves me wondering who the real racists are here, and how does it serve the interests of Asian kids and Asian actors to kill this franchise.

  56. It never fails to amaze me how screwed up and totally misguided American cinema can be. Casting highly-successful cartoons into all-white cast, with the pre-requisite villain-of-color. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did an all-white Afro Samurai remake. It could be anyone, right?

    Have you ever seen ONE episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender?!?? Saying that THIS show doesn’t have TOTALLY Asian elements is like saying there’s nothing Asian about Dragonball Z! Even the posters for the original cartoon include Asian illustrations and text!

    Anyways, if it’s so “universal” then just cast ONE Asian person, maybe even (gasp!) TWO Asian actors, since race matters sooo sooo little to all these industry-funded commentators and of course, you don’t have an investment in seeing white people up on the big screen.

    I’ll watch the movie, but I will be watching it for free from a torrent-site. Thank you, Hollywood, for rearing your ugly racist head once again.

  57. HOW IS THE MOVIE RACIST WHEN EACH NATION IS A DIFFERENT RACE???
    AIR – Mixed race
    WATER – Caucasian and Inuit
    EARTH – EAST ASIAN and African
    FIRE – SOUTH ASIAN

    btw, this is one of the most diverse movies ever made

  58. The cartoon is american, not asian. It has influences from asian culture but that does not make it asian. If you look at anima cartoons the characters have extremely white skin, long ass legs and large round eyes, which in all fairness is not a correct representation on the physical appearance of asians. So its really not possible to find an asian who can be cast to these roles. Further, who the hell are you to decide who a studio casts? Do you really think the motive of hiring european actors was to be racist? You cast actors who fit with your target audience. This movie is aimed at europeans, hence why it is filmed in english. You sir are an idiot.

  59. what is the point of boy cotting this please tell me, are you gonna block people from getting into the theater or run in screaming and get thrown out what good will that do then if you go back outside and try to stop people from seeing it you are going to have a bunch of pis$ed off people coming out at the end because you ran in screaming

  60. I’ll have to be the only one giving props here I suppose. Although the cartoon series itself did not explicitly mention that the characters are Asian, the cultures, the elements, the background, the philosophical teachings were all pretty obviously Asian. And it’s alright to have diversity in the cast, but why is it that all the good guys are White? This has been a repeated theme in Hollywood films. What makes this one more outrageous is the fact that it’s a children’s show, and what kind of messages do you think the Asian kids are receiving from watching this?

    Great article Guy, I am joining the boycott just like I did to the Dragonball movie (White Goku? Seriously?) Here’s another article that talks about the same issues with this movie, you should check it out and get in touch with the writer, she’s amazing! http://www.reappropriate.com/2010/05/26/boycotting-the-last-airbender-and-prince-of-persia/

    Keep up the good work!! 🙂

  61. Im Asian and i have no problem with this movie. Im not event a chinese, or indian or japanese, or thai. But Im asian.. U say u fight for asian but u only care for chinese or japanese. U are the on who racist in my point of view.

  62. I personally like the setup of the characters and actors. I never once saw the characters refer to themselves and asian, so i don’t see what the big deal is. im a big fan of the show, and to me, its always been a story about a child dealing with the responsibility of having to save the entire WORLD, not just asia.

  63. The Southern Water Tribe are Inuit, like Katara and Sokka are in the show. But the Northern Water tribe (where K and S’s family is from) are white. No big deal.

    Most of the air nomads are asian, I don’t see what the big deal is that they picked a kid with epic martial arts skills who happens to be white. Besides, when Toph joins the Gaang there’ll be a “Hero” who’s asian. And handicapped! Totally diverse!

    And ZUKO ISN’T A VILLAIN.

  64. I’m sorry but you could not have casted a better Aang. The kid is a mirror image of the cartoon character. He talks like him and embodies the same spirit. Excellent work on casting Noah Ringer. I like Dev as Zuko as well, he is listed as enemy which is far from accurate. Zuko is confused and has inner turmoil trying to figure out his identity but is actually one of the heroes in this story. This trilogy-to-be will have a very diverse and colorful cast and I can’t wait to see them all. I am very confident this will be very succesful!! Can’t wait!!

  65. Moreover to the points made before, it’s not as if Dev Patel was purposely cast as a villain for his skin color. If you had actually done any research before going on some bitter polemic, you’d know that they’d cast Jesse McCartney, Mr. White-As-Can-Be, for the evil role.

    The issue here is that they were white at all, not that Dev Patel is Indian and ‘evil’. Look, I’m an Asian-American, not that I need to justify my point by saying that. I’m seeing this movie and I’m supporting the actors playing the characters I love, whoever they might be.

    Get off. The high. Horse.

  66. HOW IS THE MOVIE RACIST IF EACH NATION IS A DIFFERENT RACE???
    AIR – mixed race
    WATER – Inuit and Caucasian
    EARTH – ASIAN and African
    FIRE – Indian and Middle Eastern

    one of the most diverse movies ever

  67. Please don’t take these insults against you to heart. Some of the comments here are immature.

    I have to say though, I respectfully disagree with you.

  68. I completely agree with alastair, Jihad and Panda…..If you don’t want to see this movie, don’t try to CONTROL others to support your intentions….Everyone can DECIDE by themselves whether to see this movie. It seriously pisses me of when people are trying to convince others to ruin a project. Imagine if you were making a movie, you’d be sick of people trying to boycott against your movie. Look, here’s the thing :::::::::: Aang (Noah Ringer) looks exactly like in the Series, but for Katara and Sokka, they LOOK like their respective character except for their SKIN TONE. And so does Zuko, but darker instead of Asian.::::::::::: I freakin’ loved the Prince of Persia Sands of Time and wanted to see the Indian princess, but i saw a Gemma Arterton but i like her and I freakin’ LOVED the movie. The TRAILERS for Airbender Looks freakin’ awesome and if you are wondering, i am a BIG fan for the series. ONE LAST WORD BEFORE i finish……People, don’t listen to other’s intentions, IF YOU LIKE THE TRAILER AND WANNA SEE IT….GO SEE IT…..IF YOU DON’T WANT TO, THEN DON’T SEE IT…..

  69. To the comments above – are you guys serious? You must know crap about minority point of the view. This movie is RACIST. The characters from the animation are Asian looking characters. Any person who has seen the show will know that. Hollywood is freaking racist. All the Hollywood racist bastards can all burn in hell for all I care. What’s up with whitewashing everything and take away all the lead roles for people of color? If they want to be so colorblind, how about cast an Asian American for the role of Tom Cruise? How about let the next Asian guy play James Bond? When that happens, then we know it is not racist. What’s up with Micky Rourke playing Genghis Khan? Are you f**king with me Hollywood? Genghis is a famous historical character and he is nowhere close being a white person. Not only you are whitewashing the character you are f**king with history.

    DONT see this movie. If you support it, you support racism in Hollywood. If you have to see it, download but don’t give those racist f*ckers in Hollywood a penny.

  70. uh no thanks I got better things to do than to boycott this movie, aka I’m watching this movie like 3 times, so movie #2 and #3 can be made :D. This movie looks awesome, I’m so exited, I’m surprised to how close it is to the animated series, I mean its like perfect.

  71. Claiming that the characters of this show are all asian is in itself racist. Very few of the characters actually look asian and you are making assumptions based on the fact that the show is styled after japanese anime. The building designs may be asian but it is a ficticious world in which the the characters have skin colors and stereotypical looks that include white, brown, black, yellow, red. There are stereotypical characters like a hillbilly white guy who lives in a swamp, a middle eastern pirate. I feel that the casting might not be the greatest but not based on race. All of you who are complaining about the color of an actors skin are obnoxious. You complain about this but say nothing to the authenticity of ancient romans or greeks all speaking with english accents. It is pathetic to pick apart a movie like that just because you feel that only asians can do martial arts and be characters in anime. You are racist but hide it under the guise of trying to empower non white youth. I bet you are as white as they come and your attempting to show off and say see look im not racist. Get over it. Your are just like the rest of the people in the world who only care about how others see them. Your not being righteous, you’re just feeding you’re own ego.

  72. Lmao. what a stupid article. Anyways, I’m so excited for this movie. I’m going to buy to two tickets!. You people are selfish and short sighted. What about everyone who wants to see this movie? Who want to enjoy it with their friends and family? What gives you the right to rob them of that? Idiot. Hypocrites. The whole nine.

  73. This was a waste of my time to read. Just because SOME of the characters appear Asian doesn’t mean they are. Where does it say they are actually Asian? Whenever I watch Animes and then they make live action films I’m left disappointed because most of the people are Asian who doesn’t even LOOK like the character. I had always thought they were something other than Asian to be honest and seeing as how this show was made by non-Asian people it makes sense. Anime live action films are always places Asian people as the leads, even when at times the settings don’t call for it.

    Boycotting it is silly and you’re being childish. Get over it.

  74. I cant wait for this movie!!!! Im loving the DIVERSITY of the nations! This movie will amazing!

  75. This movie will be amazing!!!!! Cant wait to see the DIVERSITY of the nations. I LOVE IT

  76. Here’s a thought. You can do your public duty and shut up. Believe what you want, see what movie you want but attempting a boycott is a pretty low thing to do. You have no business in attempting to ruin the movie for the millions who want to watch it and any potential sequels simply because of your beliefs.
    I’m not going to get into a race debate here but I just think you should be ashamed of yourself. So many other problems in the world but you choose to write a narrow minded article like this.