So there’s this show you might have heard of? It’s called Avatar: The Last Airbender? Kids saving the world? Only our favorite thing ever?
Anyhoodle, the show ended recently, but they’re making a live-action movie, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Cool! Except maybe not, because check out the first look at the cast.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the show, you might not see the problem with this (well, if you’re a regular at this blog, I assume you see the problem with giving work to Jesse McCartney at all, but that’s not my point at the moment). So I’ve prepared some visual aids. Check out the main characters, opening shot of the title sequence, combat styles, traditional dress, spirit animals, architecture, and cuisine. Does any of that look white/European/Western to you?
Now look at that cast again. Boy, they sure are white!
Avatar is set in a fantasy world that is heavily influenced by Asian and Inuit culture. It was meticulously researched and arose from the great love and respect the creators had for Asian and Inuit cultures. This makes the offensive whitewashing of the movie a slap in the face to everyone who was looking forward to seeing a diverse, all-POC cast in a major motion picture aimed at children.
I am certainly not the most educated person on this matter, but since this blog has readers who follow tween and kid culture and watch Nickelodeon (and since we have, unfortunately, mentioned Jesse McCartney), I felt like it was important to spread the word here. If you’re interested in reading some of the common arguments and questions, check out this post by Glockgal; if you’re interested in learning what you can do about this, check out aang_aint_white. You can bet your sweet bippy that I will personally be writing a letter or two about this.
(The upside of all of this? I started watching the show, and HOLY SWEET MONKEYS it’s good. I’m only a handful of episodes in, though, so if you’re a fan please do not spoil me, or I shall weep forever.)
Images are all from AvatarSpirit.Net.