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Quoted from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Be in an M. Night movie
Director-writer-producer M. Night Shyamalan is casting for The Last Airbender, a live-action film from Paramount and Nickelodeon based on the Nickelodeon animated series, shooting here from mid-March through July. (It's set in a world where human civilization is divided into four nations: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. The film's hero, the reluctant young Aang, is the Last Airbender. Aided by a protective teenage Waterbender named Katara and her bullheaded brother, Sokka, Aang proceeds on a perilous journey to restore balance to their war-torn world. Standard stuff.)

The O.C.'s Jackson Rathbone has been named as Sokka. Casting folks are looking for extras to play soldiers, martial artists, dancers, gymnasts, athletes and families - specifically physically fit people from 18 to 65 years old. The open call will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Bullies restaurant at the Wachovia Spectrum. You're asked to dress casually or in the traditional costume of your family's ethnic background. Info: lastairbendercasting@gmail.com or 215-574-7878.


We've called the number provided and this seems to be completely legit. Several people have commented suggesting that those protesting the casting decision should have a presence there, and we're inclined to agree. However, it's very important that we all conduct ourselves politely, peacefully and responsibly.

If you can make it to the casting call in person, we would love for you to
• Ask polite but firm questions of the casting people about why they chose white actors to play Asian and Inuit characters and report back here with what they say
• Ask why no formal statement has been made by Paramount Pictures or Blinding Edge Pictures (Shyamalan's production company) about the casting controversy and, again, let us know what they say
• Take photos and notes about what you see and hear and share them with us in the comments
• Peacefully and respectfully protest the casting decisions, and tell the local media that you plan to do so. If you want to organize a protest, relevant information regarding applying for permits and such can be found here.

EDIT: drmoonpants is trying to put together a list of those who plan to attend. Please reply to this comment if you think you'll be able to make it so that we can get a headcount.

You should not, under any circumstances
• Spam their voicemail or email with messages
• Harass or insult the casting people in any way or interfere with their ability to do their jobs
• Protest the casting in a manner that is not completely peaceful, polite and respectful
• Confront or disrespect anyone else who shows up to the casting call
• Behave in a manner that would cast a bad light on this movement as a whole

If you cannot make it to the casting call in person, we encourage you to send short, polite messages to the email address above (or leave equally short, polite voicemails) briefly explaining your objections to their casting decisions and asking if and when Blinding Edge Pictures plans to make a statement regarding this controversy.

Comments

( 214 comments — Leave a comment )
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glockgal
Jan. 22nd, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
I hope people can peacefully rally there! It would be so BRILLIANT, especially if we get press involved somehow...

GO PHILADELPHIANS GO!!!
meredyd
Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
A rally would be so awesome. I would definitely be willing to attend if one was to happen.

\o/Philly\o/
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:22 am (UTC)
Even if you're the only one who can make it, we would very much appreciate it if you found the time to attend -- one person asking questions and seeing what there is to see is very much better than none! <3

Perhaps your friends could be convinced to keep you company, even if they aren't specifically involved with this issue? We'll cross our fingers!
(no subject) - opal_skies - Jan. 23rd, 2009 02:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:25 am (UTC)
Thank you for the extra information! We're hoping Blinding Edge Pictures has a presence largely because they're based in PA.

At this point, any answers -- even indirect ones -- would be better than nothing.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - star_bolt08 - Jan. 23rd, 2009 02:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ravenbell - Jan. 23rd, 2009 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - vejiicakes - Jan. 23rd, 2009 09:01 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - caterfree10 - Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jedifreac - Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vejiicakes - Jan. 24th, 2009 09:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vejiicakes - Jan. 24th, 2009 09:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: More Resources - vejiicakes - Jan. 24th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC) - Expand
exactly! - tryxkittie - Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - caterfree10 - Jan. 23rd, 2009 01:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - phillykat - Jan. 24th, 2009 07:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)
PLEASE GO PROTEST!!
if i lived anywhere near philly i would go!!

maybe it'd be best if all the protestors met up at a certain place and time and go to the casting call together

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS!!!
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
i e-mailed the columnist
mklein@phillynews.com

since he did not mention anything about the controversy...
sertrel
Jan. 23rd, 2009 01:08 am (UTC)
If you're going to protest, especially if you're seeking media attention, please check Philadelphia rules, regulations, and applications for demonstrations. The last thing you want is to be in the news for the wrong reasons.
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
Thank you for the link! Hopefully someone local will be able to do the grunt work on this -- it seems there are provisions for last-minute applications, which is nice considering how suspiciously last-minute this casting call announcement was.
caterfree10
Jan. 23rd, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
OH HOW I WISH I WERE IN MY FATHER'S HOME AREA AT THIS POINT IN TIME. I would love to be there to tell Paramount with my own mouth how wrong this whole situation is. *nod nod*

...Hey, maybe I can get a hold of my aunts and uncles in the area to help protest. >3 I KNOW YOU GUYS LOVE ME SO PLEASE HELP OUT? 8D
drmoonpants
Jan. 23rd, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
I am kind of tearing out my hair here but I have both a dissertation deadline on Sunday and a lively illness, so I'm not seeing any real way I can be out of the house for any substantial block of time on Saturday. That being said, I am local and perfectly willing to help armchair-organize if need be.

First of all, may I ask that everyone who is planning to attend PLEASE COMMENT HERE so a headcount can get going?

Second of all, it seems unlikely to me that at this late date any protest pulled together will manage to exceed the 75-person and traffic-blocking stipulations that seem to define a demonstration by city ordinance, so I'm not sure if the permit will be necessary. If it does somehow turn out to be necessary, my main concern is that that'll probably have to get done tomorrow. Seems to me like it'd be easier just to avoid blocking traffic -- and stay on the Spectrum's property, which I believe to be less the city's than would be, say, the street. I may just be blithely making things up here, though, if anyone more experienced has an opinion please do chime in.

Third of all, if there does look to be a decent turnout and we are going to start contacting news sources, I would like to suggest (and will try to find a phone number for) the Daily News as prominent among them. Yes, it's a rag, but it has a more than decent readership and it seems in my experience to be uniquely sympathetic to stuff like this.
meredyd
Jan. 23rd, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
I will be there, barring any unforseen emergencies. What time are you thinking people should show up?
(no subject) - meredyd - Jan. 24th, 2009 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 27th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 23rd, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 23rd, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(hello!) - djinnj - Jan. 23rd, 2009 09:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: (hello!) - drmoonpants - Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: (hello!) - djinnj - Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: (hello!) - glockgal - Jan. 23rd, 2009 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
I'm going - cielblue87 - Jan. 23rd, 2009 10:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: I'm going - drmoonpants - Jan. 24th, 2009 02:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 27th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
opal_skies
Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:45 am (UTC)
Is there any way we can do more? Especially for people who don't live in the Philly area? I'm just getting very afraid that this issue won't get the attention it deserves. This really needs to be put on the front lines, and I think we need to find a big way of doing that quickly. All our efforts thus far have been so wonderful, but...I'm starting to wonder if they're enough, as no one has acknowledged us, and the movie production appears to be continuing without paying the issue any heed. Is this where we pull out the 2-ton packages of Fu Man Chu pictures to send in?
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:55 am (UTC)
Right now, we're in a bit of an odd spot. Paramount hasn't issued an official statement of any kind, which means that some interest groups and media outlets might be reluctant to get involved just yet -- they could be waiting for something more concrete to react to.

That said, the word has been spreading very far and very fast in the last few days, thanks to the efforts of Racialicious, Publisher's Weekly "The Beat" blog and popular graphic novelist Derek Kirk Kim. At this stage the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to have as loud of a voice and draw as much attention is possible, and we're not doing too bad on that front.

The important thing is to keep the conversation going, keep pushing Paramount to issue a statement, keep writing essays and blogs, keep posting videos, keep asking media outlets to cover the story.
planguy
Jan. 23rd, 2009 08:54 am (UTC)
Man, what's up with that show up in the traditional costume of your family's ethnic background thing? Is that basically a call for Asian people to show up to fill up roles as extras?

I'm interested to see how this plays out. If there is an effort to hire a lot of Asian extras to "balance" out the fact that the leads are white I don't think people will react well. It admits there is a problem without actually doing anything meaningful about it, like previously mentioned.

I want to wish everyone who is going over there to protest luck.
vejiicakes
Jan. 23rd, 2009 09:09 am (UTC)
Interesting that they didn't even feel the need to specify which ethnic-specific traditional cloth- oh, COSTUMES (*eyeroll*) they had in mind. Or a historical timeframe under which this "traditional" idea fell.

I have powerful hopes for people to show up at this extras casting call dressed in, say, their family's traditional lederhosen, or a chiton, or a sarape >:)
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 09:15 am (UTC)
It's certainly beginning to look like there's an attempt to make this film look more "international" in order to cover for the fact that they chose white actors for the leads. "Oh, in THIS universe there are all SORTS of different races!" they might say. "The main characters just HAPPEN to be white! But hey look, these two minor characters and few dozen background extras aren't white, so that makes this film DIVERSE!"

....

Goodness, it's difficult not to get cynical about this, isn't it?
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
Do NOT Protest
I am urging all of you to not go through with this protest. The reason being is that it will not work the way you want it to and will only bring negative repercussions to the cause. A protest will make the ones who are against the cast look like extremists and you will not be taken seriously by anyone. Here is what you should do, keep writing those letters, contact your local media and any minority clubs that you can think of. Get your friends and family to help you, speak at large to your school (if you are still in school of course). A protest should only be utilized when everything else has failed. I know you want to be heard, but please this isn't the way to do it. When all else fails, that is when you should utilize a protest. I am asking for just a little more time and if you still feel the need to go through with a protest or rally, then you should.
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Do NOT Protest
We're curious why you think so? From our perspective, things HAVE gotten rather dire, in that it's been months since the casting announcement on EW and we have yet to see a single statement from Paramount Pictures about the casting or the controversy surrounding it.

They have so far ignored letters and ignored efforts by media outlets to extract more information. It is looking increasingly clear that they're putting this off as long as possible such that, by the time they do make a statement, they can put up their hands and say "It's too late to do anything now! Sorry!"

The point of a protest is visibility, and the point of visibility is to force those you're protesting to pay attention.

However, as said, we're curious why you would equate peaceful, well-behaved protesters with "extremists."
Re: Do NOT Protest - (Anonymous) - Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Do NOT Protest - aang_aint_white - Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Do NOT Protest - lady_ganesh - Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Jan. 23rd, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Hoping
I would love to attend, but unfortunately I live nowhere
near the area. About 1500 miles South. Regardless I took
the initiative to e-mail a short polite statement
about how I feel to the address provided above.
jill_rg
Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:38 pm (UTC)
Dislike about casting in a movie is not a cause worthy of protesting. Nobody's rights or civil liberties are being violated.
lady_ganesh
Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
If racism isn't worth protesting, then what is?

And I don't see why a protest is so radical. It's a protest. People will possibly have signs. I suspect no puppies will be killed.

Edited at 2009-01-23 06:42 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
dylan0513
Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
Don't Protest
What is with you people?! Ok, I get it, you don't like the casting decisions. That's fine. But first, your basis is on race which should be irrelevant. The quality of the actors is all that should matter. And the basis of your complaints is invalid:
"• Ask polite but firm questions of the casting people about why they chose white actors to play Asian and Inuit characters and report back here with what they say"
This is false. The characters are not Asian. Nor are they White. Aang is Air Nomad, Katara is Water Tribe. They aren't Asian. The Avatar World is Asian influenced, but none of the characters themselves are Asian. So really, the only grounds of protesting the movie on race, is that the Asian influenced world is being made by Americans. And that's not a very strong claim.
We always complained about how Nick never realized how amazing Avatar is and they never took it to its full potential. Well guess what, Nick thinks highly enough to have authorized a movie, and look what we're doing with it. We're basically telling Nick we disagree with their decision to bring Avatar up to a whole new level; or at least that's how they'll see it. Don't protest. The grounds are invalid. If you think the actors aren't good, that's one thing, but race is not a factor. We should be supporting this movie and everyone involved. Instead we're looking like the idiot fans who don't even like their own movie.
aang_aint_white
Jan. 23rd, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Don't Protest
This comment is so riddled with problematic statements that we honestly cannot summon the energy to address all of your points in turn. We will say only that if you cannot see how directly the cultures in Avatar map onto real life cultures in our own world, that says more about your own familiarity with those real life cultures than it says about the show or the ethnicity of its characters.

If you're curious about why so many people disagree with you, we would suggest taking a few minutes to read the blogs and essays we've linked to. Derek Kirk Kim's recent post and the posts by Glock Gal and Vagabond Sal would be an excellent place to start.

Finally: we have absolutely no obligation to support any project simply because it's associated with a brand we have previously enjoyed. And we are doubtful that, if different changes had been made that you might personally see as more "important" -- say, if Prince Zuko was made into a woman or Sokka and Katara were merged into one character -- you would be so reluctant to disapprove of the film.

Edited at 2009-01-23 06:50 pm (UTC)
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