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Some good news and a few reminders

First of all, we want to announce that the Media Action Network for Asian Americans has spoken out publicly against the casting of The Last Airbender. They've posted an open letter to the producers on their site, offering to help Paramount Pictures steer this project in the right direction. From that letter:

The Asian American community, and the movie-going public at large, is used to seeing Asian men depicted as villains and rarely get the opportunity to see Asian heroes they can get behind and cheer for. This is also an historic opportunity to give Asian American actors a chance to shine in a big-budget film franchise which would bolster their careers for future projects. You will get deserved credit for launching those careers and can break down barriers by understanding that the audience that loved the television series is ready (and expects) to see Asian Americans playing those characters on the big screen.


You can read the letter in full here, and their ongoing blog on this and other issues can be read here. We're thrilled that the MANAA has decided to become involved in this issue, and we look forward to seeing where that involvement may lead.

And of course, the support of all of you continues to be an incredible thing to watch! By all reports, the February 7th protest in Philadelphia went very well! Ten people were able to make it and maintained a presence all day, distributing fliers and answering questions about the controversy. We're very thankful to all of them and incredibly proud -- they got up early on a cold Saturday, spent all afternoon talking to strangers about a controversial topic, and conducted themselves with professionalism and poise. They also quite clearly got the attention of those running the casting call -- a production assistant was sent out with a video camera to film the protesters. djinnj did a very nice writeup which you can read here, along with replies by other supporters who were able to attend. Thank you so much to everyone who was able to make it!

However, we would like to take a moment to mention that as fantastic as it is that ten people were able to come, nearly one hundred had previously RSVPd via Facebook or on this journal. This highlights how every single person is important and every individual makes a difference. Please don't assume that someone else will act for you -- we all have to work together and stay involved!

Finally, we want to remind all of you that as things stand, The Last Airbender is scheduled to begin filming in mid-March. Your support and your involvement are therefore more important than ever! We'll be updating this journal again early next week with more suggestions for what you can do, but in the meantime -- keep writing, keep talking, keep the conversation going.

Comments

( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
nthdraft
Feb. 21st, 2009 07:37 am (UTC)
Glad to see this. It's never too late for a change in movie. Let's hope they see that before they actually commit anything to film and have to reshoot things. :-)
tryxkittie
Feb. 21st, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
That's incredible! W00t MANAA! Now if the production team behind The Last Airbender ignores this message, we know they've REALLY go their heads stuck up their asses.

From the bottom of my heart though, I hope the producers take MANAA up on their generous offer and utilize their help to get the movie back on the right track. Do you think that there's still a chance they might recast and rethink with the filming beginning so soon?

Also, it seems MANAA sent the letters to Bryke :) I'm not expecting them to release any statement concerning the movie (they probably can't for legal reasons) but it's just good to know that this letter reached them!
xneoninja
Feb. 21st, 2009 10:16 am (UTC)
This is great news! While they are awaiting response this is the time to be more active than ever. We need something that will take it to even greater heights. After all, its better to be pro active about this.

If there is anything happening in L.A. I will try my best to make it. >.> Must brainstorm on how to get the word out some more.
(Deleted comment)
caterfree10
Feb. 21st, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
Well, a lot of those who RSVPed to the event were people who didn't even live in the US. I'm thinking that it may be have language issues and they didn't know what they were clicking. *sigh*
caterfree10
Feb. 21st, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
This is great news! And pretty much what tryxkittie said above, if they ignore MANAA, there is no hope for this movie and it will be boycott time. I'm over here praying and working so that it doesn't come to that.
tryxkittie
Feb. 21st, 2009 07:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah exactly, I'm praying it doesn't come to that too. I mean an Avatar movie can be so friggin amazing and epic and I want to support it, but I can't if they're going to go down this road. But we'll see.
(no subject) - caterfree10 - Feb. 21st, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
singingsun199
Feb. 21st, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
..This is..um *laughs*. This is amazing! They can't ignore MANAA. If they do, then it will become obvious to everyone what's going with this movie. They may be ignorant, but they're not stupid. This is only gonna go uphill from here.:D
chaobunny
Feb. 21st, 2009 10:45 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that the meeting with MANNA went well. This may be our last and only chance. I feel like support for this movement is dwindling. I'm finding that a lot of people on forums are saying, "yeah, you've made your point. But boycotting the movie is only going to prevent paramount from making a future Avatar series." And that makes me feel like a bad Avatar fan.

Paramount might be able to ignore a bunch of people sending them letters, but they can't ignore MANNA. I'm interested to see how this plays out, because frankly we're running out of time.
aang_aint_white
Feb. 21st, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
While I can understand why people want to support a franchise they care about, I disagree that speaking out against this production in any way makes you a "bad fan."

Part of what many of us loved about the original Avatar series was how respectfully it incorporated different Asian and Native American cultures into its world and themes. It's also clear that the creators and staff put a huge amount of effort and care into creating the characters and setting, and deliberately chose to depart from the typical themes of European-style fantasy and do something different and groundbreaking.

Paramount's handling of this adaptation disrespects the show's themes in countless ways, and your decision not to support a film that goes against the spirit of the original makes you the very best kind of fan, in our opinion anyway. <3
(no subject) - chaobunny - Feb. 22nd, 2009 02:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jedifreac - Feb. 22nd, 2009 10:45 am (UTC) - Expand
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sapphire_fuego
Feb. 22nd, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
ALRIGHT!!! MANNA speaking out is what we've been hoping for. Someone that they just cannot blow off like they have been with us.

I hope they will take this issue seriously now and start recasting those roles into what they should have been in the first place.....ASIAN!
madbonkers
Feb. 22nd, 2009 08:06 am (UTC)
That's great news!
Looking forward to hear the outcome. Hope news of it arrive soon :)

And I don't think we have anything to worry about when it comes to boycotting the movie. If Paramount doesn't continue with the sequels, all the movie franchise needs is a reboot ;)
japantheman
Feb. 22nd, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
I realize this blog is mainly about stopping the racist casting of The Last Airbender but I see this as more of a starting point to make the problem so much more public and let people know there are things they can do to stop this.

I don't know how many people here also know about the casting of the live action Akira and Cowboy Beebop but these are also giving the lead roles to white actors in movies that actually are originally Japanese And I just feel if people are disgusted by the actions of the producers of The Last Airbender, they need to start acting against other movies where the same thing is happening. This movie can be our starting point but it can't be our only point.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 22nd, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we know that but at least with animes like Cowboy Bebop, Chrono Crusade, Scrapped Princess, and Fullmetal Alchemist, most of the main characters in those series were already established as caucasians from the beginning and if they were to cast them as such, it would be fine with fans because it's established from the start.

As for casting white actors to play the main roles in something like Inuyasha, Bleach, and Naruto where they keep the environments of a Japanese setting, then that will cause a problem because all of the characters were established as Japanese and they live in an obvious Japanese environment and if they try to cast white actors to play these characters, we would have the same situation just like with Avatar and Earthsea.

By the way in case you didn't know, there is an upcoming live action adaptation of King of Fighters coming out later and it says in the casting list that they have Sean Faris (from Never Back Down) to play Kyo Kusanagi. Yes, you heard me right, they casted a white guy to play a character who is 100% Japanese in the games and you know what is the worst part? Unlike Avatar, KOF is set in our world and there are plenty of other caucasian characters in the games to choose from but casting a white guy to play a Japanese character? Where is the justification for that?

Here's the link if you want proof:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1038685/

Anyway, from the beginning, this is the place where I can feel welcome knowing that Hollywood's racist casting pratises are unacceptable and I want to do something about it. You guys have my support and I am rooting that the MANAA will do something about this.







(no subject) - japantheman - Feb. 22nd, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tryxkittie - Feb. 23rd, 2009 01:47 am (UTC) - Expand
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patsy8790
Feb. 23rd, 2009 03:14 am (UTC)
pics of the protest
I arrived at the protest around 2pm and I was able to take a couple photos (only 2). There were about 5 other people when I arrived (the first photo) and here is a pic of me (the second photo).

http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2414/69/25/1057175203/n1057175203_30333028_7302.jpg

http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2414/69/25/1057175203/n1057175203_30333029_3586.jpg
spookster_z
Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
This is sort of unrelated to the post -- I'm just curious if anyone has heard anything about what Mike & Brian think of this whole thing?

And YAY for MANAA!!! I'm ecstatic.
Bummer that 100 people didn't show up to the protest though.
madbonkers
Feb. 23rd, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
I don't think so. So far, there's no movie-related comments from Mike and Brian.
xneoninja
Feb. 23rd, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
Big News!
Have you guys read EAST WEST PLAYERS have sent a letter to paramount as well?!
http://community.livejournal.com/racebending/data/rss This is big news!

This is definitely a huge step up! It could possibly the end of this war.
pretty_angel
Feb. 23rd, 2009 10:50 am (UTC)
Re: Big News!
Seriously, this letter is EPIC WIN! 8D
caterfree10
Feb. 23rd, 2009 03:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Big News!
That is freakin' awesome! Two of the largest Asian American organizations are now on Paramount's tail! WHOO~! 8D
Re: Big News! - star_bolt08 - Feb. 23rd, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
canthari
Feb. 23rd, 2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
Wow, just wow. I didn't expected something like this to happen.
aang_aint_white
Feb. 23rd, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Quite honestly, neither did we!
on_earth
Feb. 23rd, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad on this news (and I'm actually reading the letters) but there's a few thoughts I've had on my mind since after the Oscars that I don't know where else to post, so I'll just say them here.

I think after last night's Oscars, especially with the awards going to a lot of asians (example, that japanese man winning for best foreign language film) or much more diversity (like Sean Penn and embracing the gay community) and now that Slumdog Millionaire won not only a vast amount of awards but was best picture AND that amazing song medley with the dancers, and along with the fact that Dev Patel is a part of all that, I think the whitewashing is going to be more apparent especially with all that news I'm hearing of M. Night trying to scope for the right "asian-like buildings". It seems like now that Hollywood and the Oscars are willing to accept a LOT more diversity if the story is extremely well done and moving and hopefully the studios will see that and try to change their minds. I HOPE.

That and along with these two letters, maybe there's still a chance?

(If this comment is out of place, it's ok for it to be deleted.)
aang_aint_white
Feb. 23rd, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
It's not at all out of place <3

Is there particular article about that location scouting you can link us to?
(no subject) - nthdraft - Feb. 23rd, 2009 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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glass_icarus
Feb. 24th, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
WOO! :D A thought I've also had, and cross-posted to racebending: do you suppose that if we wrote letters/emails to individual Asian/Asian-American actors on this protest and asking politely for their thoughts on the subject, we might be able to garner more- and bigger- media attention at this stage of the game? Not Dev Patel, since he's already been cast, and asking might cause conflict with the producers, but if, say, Kal Penn or Lucy Liu were to discuss this issue, wouldn't entertainment news people pick up that sort of story pretty quickly?
( 50 comments — Leave a comment )

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