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02 July 2010 @ 12:14 pm
Are we standing still or stepping backwards?  
There's been plenty of stirrings regarding racial issues in fandom lately. I've been keeping tabs on many of these discussions all around fandom, from the Big Bang fiasco and the wanktastic fanficrants post to the controversy surrounding Avatar: The Last Airbender. Reading the discussions and different viewpoints and arguments has made me really immersed into the racial issues even more than before, particularly with how fandom sees it and how it's affecting others as well. I've actually been researching more about the controversy of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the more I read the more angered I became particularly to those that clearly don't understand the reasons why people are protesting the film. In fact, it's infuriating seeing how some just don't get it even when it's straightforwardly explained to them. What's worse is that M. Night Shyamalan continues to not get it either, presenting himself to have a huge inflated ego in the process. For someone who is a POC himself say such things, to not even acknowledge why this can be a sensitive topic for most and why people want to boycott the film entirely because of it, is really upsetting and insulting on many levels.

I highly recommended reading this particular writeup which explains the problems of whitewashing and why it's a huge deal and why it shouldn't still be happening in this day and age. Some might not see the what the big deal is, say it's just a movie/cartoon/whatever, but it's that kind of attitude that allows such things to be continued, of these issues never being resolved because it really is a deep-seeded issue in the media that needs to be changed. This is the 21st Century folks, this shouldn't be continuing, and yet it is.

Dante Basco (aka RUFIOO!), who does the voice for Prince Zuko in the series, gives his tamed yet incredibly honest thoughts on The Last Airbender movie, and it all rings painfully true:
"I think it’s a missed opportunity for the voice and the face of the Asian community, when will a project like this and of tis magnitude come along again? [...] Stars don’t just happen out of thin air, Hollywood helps make them. This was an opportunity to give the chance to some Asian kids to become stars for the future generation and we missed it."
In other words....

Current Mood: apatheticapathetic
Current Music: Maurissa Tancharoen - Nobody's Asian In The Movies
Nicole Anell: darianicole_anell on July 2nd, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
*loves Maurissa*

And oh man, I didn't know Rufio (!) was still doing voice work and stuff. That quote is so true.

Edit: Oh lord, M. Night. Just... stop talking, please.

Edited at 2010-07-02 07:31 pm (UTC)
Renée: Sierra. Incognito.rogueslayer452 on July 2nd, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
I have been listening to that track over and over, ngl. I love her like, whoa. <3

I actually did a double take and immediately after realizing it really was Rufio I went "BANGARANG!" *facepalm* My childhood, I shows you it. But yes, just hearing him speak out about it in such a classy manner, but speaking the truth at the same time, is what I really appreciated. I just wish M. Night Shyamalan would get over himself for two seconds and realize the harsh reality. *shakes head*
Kevin Jonesmulder200 on July 2nd, 2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
Seriously! M. Night is just full of so much fail it's not even funny. This is also why I have no interest in watching the movie at all. I rather stick with the animation. It's better anyway. Not to mention eye opening about Eastern culture.

Also, you might be interested in this: Racebending Revenge and Lost Symphony and also Urban Legends

The last two tales put an interesting racial twist on the Supernatural universe.
Renée: Dean/Castiel. Between us.rogueslayer452 on July 2nd, 2010 09:15 pm (UTC)
Hearing more about the controversy has made me more adamant to watch the series, to be honest. Besides, from what I've read the movie barely even stays true to the spirit of the series at all, M. Night just changed so much to fit into HIS vision of how the world should be. It's incredibly obvious that he's not familiar with the series at all, and it shows.

Oh, thanks for those links, bb. :) Will definitely check them out, for sure.
Filomena: dance all sassy youaubade_saudade on July 2nd, 2010 07:40 pm (UTC)
ILUSFM, right now, ngl. ♥_♥

M. Night is an assbutt. he said he wanted diversity and that's why he put an "African American village in the film. AN AFRICAN AMERICAN VILLAGE. *head desk*

anyway, don't watch it people. it perpetuates racism AND it's just a shoddily made Mountain Everest of poo. it's a crappy, crappy movie. if you do it for the lulz the lulz is on you. <3
Renée: Dollhouse. Victor/Sierra.rogueslayer452 on July 2nd, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
♥ ♥ ♥

It's ridiculous, isn't it? Not only does he not understand the background of the world but it's like he blatantly admitted to placing token characters in his movie to make it more diverse. The fucking fuck, M. Night?

Yep, pretty much. It's advocating the acceptance of racism in the media, whether people want to admit to that or not, and if people aren't stepping up to stop this kind of thing they're part of the problem. And believe me, I've seen many comments saying that they're going to see the movie just because it'll piss off the protesters. :/ It's all backwards, it is. Good thing is that it's getting shitloads of negative reviews, so it's flopping pretty much on its own ass and rightfully so.
noybusiness: Torynoybusiness on July 2nd, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Haven't seen the series, but I like what I've heard (about the series, not the movie). It would be nice to watch the series from the beginning.

Can it really be that hard to find Asian and Inuit child actors for the roles? Really? I don't believe it. I know there are good Inuit actors. Not only must there be good actors around the globe (duh), but also I've seen Atanarjuat. Not that it would fix the other problems I've heard about in the movie's script.
Renée: Sierra. Incognito.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
It's available On Demand right now, the first few episodes, if you want to watch it. :) But yes, the entire concept for the series sounds incredible, and just hearing people praise it is even better.

The problem is how the casting calls were for "Caucasian or Other" which pretty much sums up how they really cared about the original material. And it seems like it was a major fail with every single point, from the actors to the script and writing and direction. M. Night Shyamalan has absolutely no respect for the story whatsoever, and believe me from what I know of the series and what people are writing about what the movie entailed, it's like the movie is a good representation of How To Take Something Awesome And Turn It Into A Joke. An offensive joke, might I add.
noybusiness: Torynoybusiness on July 3rd, 2010 03:12 am (UTC)
Some of the posters on Unfunnybusiness were wondering what happened to Shyamalan's writing since The Sixth Sense. I'm reminded of something Alfred Bester said in the Babylon 5 novel "Final Reckoning - The Fate of Bester", that positive reinforcement doesn't push writers to improve their work.
Renée: Dollhouse. Ivy.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
I've actually liked some of his films post-The Sixth Sense. I never had much of a problem with him in general until this came along where it's obvious he's gotten such a big head about everything he does, he probably doesn't even realize how narcissistic he sounds because he likes hearing himself talk too much.
(Deleted comment)
Renée: BSG. Natalie is not pleased.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
He really loves having his head up his ass, doesn't he? *shakes head*
just a small town girl: [tsubasa chronicle] can go diafcarameltrap on July 3rd, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
This is what gets me the most, that the Director is Asian and Indian to boot doesn't get it. He could have done better instead of pandering to Hollywood's 'oh we need white people in the lead or no one will watch'.

I feel bad for the creators who gave him the go ahead to make the movie and instead of respecting their beautiful and diverse world, he went and made a mess of it.

I really hate to say it and it's horrible for the actors, specially to Patel but I hope the movie doesn't do well.
Renée: Dollhouse. Ivy.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
Basically M. Night Shyamalan is demonstrating internalized racism, he just accepts that kind of stereotyping and doesn't see anything wrong with it. Now I could be more forgiving somewhat if he actually acknowledges the issues and addressed them like someone who understands where these complaints are coming from, like others have, but since he had say in the casting and his comments about the criticism (and apparently is getting off on the hate, evidently), there's no excuse.

I feel bad for the creators who gave him the go ahead to make the movie and instead of respecting their beautiful and diverse world, he went and made a mess of it.

They've been pretty quiet about it, I think to protect themselves since they did sign it off. But indications seem to be that they don't support what's been done and at a recent signing they did they mentioned if they had control over the movie it would have been handled much differently.

I really hate to say it and it's horrible for the actors, specially to Patel but I hope the movie doesn't do well.

Agreed. Though not just for these issues alone, it makes me feel bad that this is what they signed on to do when it was so bad in writing/direction to begin with. In fact, with reports coming back I don't think I would have wanted Asian actors to be attached to such trite. I would have wanted the film to be treated faithfully and respect to the original material than with what M. Night did with it, for sure.
ashley: Ω {percy jackson} » fuck this shitkitsu84 on July 3rd, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
I've never seen the animated series, so I had no idea why there was so much controversy surrounding the live-action film. I must say, I'm rather appalled. I'm still going to carry my niece to see it, of course, because she's been begging me non-stop to do so, and I can't exactly tell a six-year-old that she can't go see a movie because the director keeps his head so far up his ass, it's practically in his throat.

Still, this is sickening. :/
Renée: Dean/Castiel. Bittersweet.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 03:43 am (UTC)
Perhaps you can bootleg the film? Or you know, sneak into it, because even if I were compelled to see it I wouldn't be paying with my own money for sure. But I understand completely about not knowing what to say to a child, it's like how can you explain something like that? There's a lot of people who are concerned about how they're going to explain to their own children, who identified with the main characters, why they don't look like them if and when it's asked. Because many Asians have connected with those characters for that alone, but when they don't look like said characters what will happen then?

It's even more ironic considering M. Night claims his daughter identified with Katara, and yet there's a white girl cast in the role.

Though be prepared, even people who have seen it says it's horrible, racial issues aside.

Edited at 2010-07-03 03:44 am (UTC)
the infraggable crunkblualbino on July 3rd, 2010 05:52 am (UTC)
M. Night is such a douche. All this movie fail has left a bad taste in my mouth, I'm rewatching the series and pretending the movie never happened. Thanks for the links though, that whitewashing article is fantastic.
Renée: Caprica. Zoe Graystone.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
Honestly, the movie shouldn't even be counted as part of the series continuity. The mess I've been reading post-release is making me cackle because it deserved to be shot down, and yet cringe because it's an disservice to what greatness the actual series has brought. It's like, "HEY WANT YOUR CREATIVE IDEAS TO BE RUINED?! SIGN YOURSELF AWAY FOR M NIGHT SHYAMALAN TO CRUSH YOUR DREAMS ALL DOWN THE DRAIN!"

I love the articles that are coming out from this, though. It's nice to see people call out the unfairness of this situation when it's appropriate, and how fandom is going about this constructively as well.
cheerful_earl: bad romancecheerful_earl on July 3rd, 2010 06:58 am (UTC)
Maurissa! She is so fantastic.

M. Night needs to shut up and stop defending his culturally insensitive, racist, apparently terrible movie. Dude. You cast white people in Asian roles. No excuse.

I've been mulling about this a lot lately, and I think that it really is a step backwards. It shouldn't be an issue still. None of this should be, but despite perhaps not being as racist in some ways, pop culture is a lot more racist in other ways. It's like people just don't get it.

Dante Basco. I love him.
Renée: LotS. Kahlan/Cara.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 08:28 am (UTC)
I love her sfm. ♥

Reading the interviews he's done, it's kind of sad that he continues on with such a streak like that. Mostly because, while I never really had a strong opinion on him either way before, it seemed like he would at least understand or acknowledge the reasons why people have been complaining based on such an issue with the casting alone. But from what it sounds like he just doesn't and when given the opportunity to talk about it further he talks around such an issue. He doesn't even address it, which is even more enraging than the whitewashing itself.

But then you know, the movie is flopping horribly anyway, so perhaps that will teach him to stop talking out from his own ass. Or not, considering his own arrogant mindset he might continue to be butthurt. Whatever.

It really is a step backwards. It's like what Dante says about how this would have been the perfect opportunity to show Asians in leading roles on the big screen and actually be culturally diverse, but instead that opportunity was so wasted. I don't think it was an intentional a racist move, but it's so internalized that some have come to accept that minorities should be in the background while whites often will bring the audiences and cashy-money, which is just so bass ackwards.

I will say this: it's because of this that I migrate to Asian media and entertainment, since I can't get it here I'll get it from there.
bold_seer: cho businessbold_seer on July 3rd, 2010 08:25 am (UTC)
"It's a compliment when everybody is up my ass all the time, it really is,"


No, just no.
Renée: Sierra. Incognito.rogueslayer452 on July 3rd, 2010 08:35 am (UTC)
His arrogance is showing. :/

It's really astonishing how he continues to insult our intelligence with every interview they've had of him regarding this film, and completely dismissing the legitimate complaints about it in general. Just, ugh.
flood_and_fire on July 4th, 2010 11:32 am (UTC)
Excellent post. I agree entirely. I read the article you linked to a few days ago, and thought it was really well-written and well-explained. I am infuriated that the director won't even admit something's wrong. I think i could just barely understand if they had cast big name actors who are box office draws but they didnt. they have cast unknowns in the roles. absolutely hideous for this to be happening in 2010.
Renée: Dollhouse. Kilo. No mercy.rogueslayer452 on July 4th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
Pretty much. Plus, the more things that is investigated about how the process worked behind the scenes (them putting the "Caucasian or other" on the casting calls, the casting director saying "if Korean, put on a kimono" and even one of the actors that said they "should get a tan" to play an Asian-based character, basically enforcing yellowface) really shows how disrespectful they were to the original source. This could have been a great opportunity to have unknown Asian actors in these roles, but then M. Night completely whitewashes the main cast and then gives excuses like "no see, look, there's Asians and blacks in the background, it's like totally diverse and shit!" That's really infuriating.

Though considering how bad the movie was in terms of direction, writing and the fact that they butchered the original concept entirely, I don't think I would have wanted Asians to be associated and cast in this kind of a mess.