Whitewashing in THE LAST AIRBENDER and PRINCE OF PERSIA

Americ Ngwije

Americ's movie watching experience has to be entertaining, so mostly anything with explosions will do, and having Jason Statham in them is always a plus. Then there are the odd men out aka "Meet Joe Black" and "In the Land of Women," go figure…

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  • Jason

    Don’t be ignorant. The creators of the series Avatar the last airbender are the executive producers and have creative control of the movie. M Night had to talk to them before going forward with anything. To say that it is whitewashing is searching too deep to find something that is not there. I think The creators can do what the hell ever they want. I am also not white. My grandma is a flood blooded “Cherokee” as white be call them. otherwise we call ourselves as Tsalagi(ᏣᎳᎩ) or Aniyvwiyai (ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ). Don’t even talk to me about whitewashing.

    • Say what?
      This is white washing. Period. Main characters, white. Background characters, Asian. Oh … sure!

      And don’t get me started on Dev Patel. The only reason he’s in the movie is cos of Slumdog’s success. If he was a nobody he wouldn’t have been casted in the movie.

      Studio chiefs believe having principally white actors in their movies will help them sell. That’s a fact. It’s been going on since forever.

    • jay

      no, the creators didn’t have a say in the casting.

    • Bookworm

      I love how people try to excuse their accepting blatant racism by saying ‘Oh, I’m a minority and if I say so it must be so’. I’ve met plenty of minorities who are completely willing to discriminate against other minorities. It’s funny, I found more racism directed towards me when I went to the Navajo reservation from the Navajo than from others I encountered there. There was one boy who was mixed, Black and Navajo and the way they talked about him…

      How would you feel if a show took every aspect of your culture to create a world, but decided that you weren’t good enough to actually play the characters? That the characters should be White? Would you be pleased? Would you not see it as the racist act that it is?

      You don’t have to search deeply to see Whitewashing, it’s blatant and obvious to anyone with eyes who’s not determined to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    • KT

      I worked on the anime show. The creators of the original series did not have a say in the casting.

    • Tom

      @Jason

      I doubt the creators had any say with the casting of The Last Airbender, if they did, they did it out of fear. They’re scared just like M Night, Paramount, and Nickelodeon. They think by casting minorities in lead roles, it won’t make enough money. By the way, for a descendant of Native American, you’re pretty ignorant. My mom is part Native American too (she’s also distant descendant of George Washington), and we both were disappointed with the lack of Native American and Asian actors for supporting roles, at least Dragonball movie had quite a few asian supporting characters.

  • Ciderkiss

    I really hope people come to their senses and don’t spend their money on these movies.

  • ken

    I never heard of either movies until I seen the previews and they look awsome. the studios bought the rights to those movies so they could put anyone they want in the movies who cares who is playing the lead roles its just entertainment. stop taking life so serious

    • Bookworm

      Easy to say when you’re not the one being discriminated against.

  • Brandon

    Well first off these are both American movies. In America Jesus is depicted as a white man. Why is it a big deal when hollywood does it but not when the church does it? Jake Gyllenhaal shouldn’t be playing the lead because he is a bad actor not because he is a bad white actor! As for The Last Airbender. This is a prime example of people getting pissed for the sake of getting pissed. Two of these “whitewashed” main characters, Katara and Sokka, are members of the Southern Water Tribe. A tribe which calls the South Pole of their “Fictional” world home! Now real or fake if your entire lineage was born and raised on the South Pole would you have pale, white skin or a nice dark tan?

  • cabraxusb

    While I don’t know too much of the cast for Airbender, I have been following the production of Prince of Persia for a while now; since Prince is what I know more about, that’s what I’ll talk about.

    At first glance, this whole “whitewashing” argument is plausible, but only at first glance. First off, whatever his race, Gylenhaal is an actor with “star power” whose name is sure to draw crowds. (i.e. – Hollywood sees green, not yellow, white, red or brown).

    Second off, this is Persia in the middle ages. Persia changed its name from Persia (the eponymous name it was known by in the west) to Iran back in the early part of the 20th century. Why Iran? Because they felt themselves descended from the Aryan peoples of northern Asia and wanted their name to reflect their ethnological history.

    If you’ve ever met an Iranian who was not of mixed Iranian/Arab ancestry, you would see that they appear Caucasian/Mediterranean. The darker skin tone we (as westerners) associate with current day “Persians” is due to an Arabian influence.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now, but before I go… check your history before you go off spouting accusations of racism. There are enough problems in the world without needing to create more.

  • Tani

    I agree with writer. No anger behind his words…just truth. What’s most intresting is that it s acceptable to substitute and cast white for any other race but not acceptable practice to cast minorities in place of white characters. Angelina Jolie caught major crap for potraying Marianne Pearl at Pearl’s request But because it was an independent film no one cared. So no one complained about the outcry over the fact that. When it comes to these major films NO ONE should voice a complaint. No one should expect that an ALL Asian cast on tv should be mirrored or represented in the big screen adaptation. No on should expect that a movie set in PERSIA should mirror the Middle Eastern cast of the video game. Of course not it should be ALL white with British accents, that’s keeping it ‘real’.

    Please, I’ve seen both movies in early screenings and while the Prince of Persia sucked, the last Airbender was very good despite the fact that M Knight directed it. It’s not the children’s fault that they were casted, they simply mirror the acceptable practices of Hollywood. Don’t angry with the writer for expressing a valid view.

  • mike

    This is a touchy subject. The creators of the last airbender are white, and they came up with this beautiful, incredibly deep cartoon that was written for both children and adults to watch and enjoy together. The cartoon itself was written as a HUGE mix of different cultures and philosophies, with the main races being soley differentiated by the nations of their primary elements, and the main charactersistics of these races were manifested by the color of their eyes. Main point being, it doesn’t matter whose in the role, but that the overall message gets across, and as long as the original creators of the cartoon have artistic and producer involvment, that’s cool enough for me, because the original creators of the last airbender have a vast amount of influence in the final word of the overall presentation, just like in the cartoon. The point of the last airbender is to influence people to overlook little differences and stand together in troubled times, no matter where they come from, and yet, people here are all upset over which race plays Aang? I think people are being super racist, and it sounds like people missed the total point of the cartoon. Aang looks white in the cartoon anyway, no matter which way you slice it. And big eyes don’t mean their asian in ‘Last airbender’ cartoon anyways, It means innocence.

    • Bookworm

      Damn it, I wrote all this down and had it perfect. Now I don’t feel like writing it all over again. So I guess it’ll be short and sweet.

      Airbender was not based on a HUGE mix of different cultures and philosophies, it was a world created using Asian culture. If you’re going to use their culture to create your entire world, it’s racist to then make the characters White. It’s easy to disregard this if you’re White, but as the people who’s culture is being used but not the people, it’s not something you can ignore.

      As for it being racist, that is a ridiculous statement. I know White people like to cry racism, but as long as you’re still in the majority, as long as you still hold the power, statements like that are just insulting. You’ve not faced any kind of true racism. As for the ‘point’ of the cartoon, that’s just something people are using a convenient excuse for the blatant racism of the casting. “It’s all about unity… when the main actors cast are White.”

      As for the character design, the big eyes in anime are a stylistic choice, but the characters are still obviously intended to be Japanese (Someone provided a nice comparison between an artist drawn anime character, with the standard big eyes, which don’t stand for innocence btw, and a depiction of the same character in a more realistic, computer created view and her eyes went from big and round, to showing that she was clearly intended to be Japanese). It’s not the ‘physical’ character so much as everything around them, every aspect of their culture and the worlds that they live in, that screams that they are Asian.

  • There not trying to be racist I hate people who always try to be politically correct I don’t think they thought about being racist when casting they just wanted the best actors

    • Todd

      well there are indian looking people in the movie airbender and india is in asia lol closest you will get. but also so many dumb people on stromfront wich i was going to join just to talk shit to them cuz there dumb, but if anyone gets there dna checked who lives in northern/western europe it will go down to persia/iran and then the middleast we all came from the middle east and before that africa. atleast caucasians did some asians and american indians split from the coasts and sailed. all fact not opinion.

  • Tyler

    I think there are a lot of racism going on in the movie business. like you said about the last airbender movie, the main character should have been given to an Asian or a Native American actor. I have felt this way about a lot of movies lately. Hollywood sucks and the actors and actresses can kiss my Korean ass for being hypocrites

  • Ben

    They probably just didn’t want to get blown up by their lead actor. Can you blame them?

  • Frank

    Persians are WHITE! Mel Gibson isn’t Scottish but I didn’t throw a hissy fit when he played William Wallace in Braveheart.

  • animefan

    ” The point of the last airbender is to influence people to overlook little differences and stand together in troubled times, no matter where they come from, and yet, people here are all upset over which race plays Aang? I think people are being super racist, and it sounds like people missed the total point of the cartoon.”
    Okay – you missed the point of Avatar. They could have made some of the protagonists Asian. I not even saying they had to make all the actors Asian. The fact that Zero of the lead character’s (Protagonists) are Asian goes against the Avatar theme of overlooking differences. If you don’t see that this is a racist move by Hollywood, you are truly part of the problem. And your ignorance is scary.

    Nixta May 28, 2010 | at 6:14 PM Reply

    “They are not trying to be racist I hate people who always try to be politically correct I don’t think they thought about being racist when casting they just wanted the best actors”

    You can’t be serious. They wanted the “best” actors. The actor’s they casted are probably good, maybe great. However, there are plenty of capable people they could have gotten. Do you really think is is just coincidence that all the good guys are white and not Asian. They just made the Villain Asian.

    Asian’s and people of Middle Eastern descent are discriminated in Hollywood. They are usually portrayed as villains. It’s wrong and comments like the above prove that racism and ignorance still exists today.

    • ToddH

      The director of Airbender, M. Night Shyamalan, is Indian and the Jerry Bruckheimer is Jewish.
      Airbender’s lead, Noah Ringer is of mixed heritage.
      Prince of Persia’s lead: Jake Gyllenhaal is half Jewish.

      Actually, NONE of this surprises me.

    • Bookworm

      To Todd

      Most Jews are White and well off. I know Jews like to scream discrimination, but they don’t face nearly what actual minorities face. Unless someone is an Orthodox Jew and dressed it, you can’t walk down the street and see that a person is Jewish.

      As for Noah Ringer, personally I don’t have any issue with him, but there’s been no actual proof, as far as I’ve seen, that’s he’s of mixed heritage. Just guesses and speculation. Do you have proof?

  • KT

    When Beyonce was rumored to be cast as Wonder Woman, all hell broke loose, and all the white people were complaining.