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Once again, we're presented with a case in which images are more eloquent than words.

The culture that Sokka and Katara hail from, the Water Tribe, is clearly modeled after real life Inuit cultures of the Arctic region. The Last Airbender's production designers obviously agree.

Here is a photograph of the film's set, from one of their locations in Greenland:

These are the Inuit skin tents that they're emulating:

These are the people who lived in those tents:

These are their modern descendents:

And this is who Paramount Pictures cast to play Sokka and Katara:

The cultures in Avatar: The Last Airbender may be part of a fantasy setting, but they are explicitly based on real cultures that exist in our world. Paramount is appropriating Inuit culture and populating it with caucasian faces. We could not disagree more with that decision.


( 80 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 26th, 2009 07:47 pm (UTC)
I shared this on twitter using the hash tag #aangaintwhite if anyone else is on twitter and wants to start a # trend.
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
I hashed it. :)
(no subject) - akiko - Mar. 26th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 27th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
Re: Woah
lol agreed
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:03 pm (UTC)
I literally smacked my forehead.

I have nothing against against the kids but part of me hopes they realize what is going on and can understand why we're upset about the casting choices.

Mar. 26th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
I have nothing against against the kids

Yeah, I actually feel sorry for the kids. They didn't make these decisions, they just wanted a job. And as much as I would like to see the movie recast, that means that the three kids would lose their job, which kind of sucks.
(no subject) - tobu_ishi - Mar. 26th, 2009 10:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - star_bolt08 - Mar. 27th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aang_aint_white - Mar. 26th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sirdrakesheir - Apr. 27th, 2009 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 26th, 2009 08:33 pm (UTC)

By the way I love the photographs! Thanks a lot for digging them out. <3 Do you know any good internet pages for more photographs of that kind (the old b&w ones)?

Mar. 26th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
I think this is quite effective in conveying the point.
I also think this could be a little more effective if it had a few pictures from the show to compare and contrast with as well.
Mar. 27th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Definitely! This pretty straightforward as is, and makes it incredibly difficult to argue against the Water Tribe being Inuit, but adding screenshots from the show would be a plus. Also, on the Iroh.org, they have scans from the "Lost Scrolls" book series, that you might want to take a look at. They're Nickelodeon publications and pretty much confirm everything we've been saying about the cultures each of the Four Nations are based on. :D
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
Nicely done.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Very well put. I just wish Paramount would stop and think for one second.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Whoa, so they're still sticking with the Inuit culture??

I thought that they would at least change it to, idk, Vikings or something. God, this is just embarrassing.

Fail. You're doing it right, Paramount.
May. 19th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
"Fail. You're doing it right, Paramount."

What are they doing right? Failing? Or whitewashing?

*Is confused.*
(no subject) - jaquenerd - May. 20th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - puffysanjo - May. 20th, 2010 03:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Those kids are obscenely cute.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
this just keeps getting failier and failier... sigh.

(BTW I agree, kudos for getting those archival pics. They're fabulous! and the modern pics are adorable. Those kids are so cute I think I need insulin :-) )
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for those beautiful pictures! A really compelling visual comparison. Maybe if the people from Paramount could see this they would realize how ridiculous they're being.
Mar. 26th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
thank you.
Mar. 26th, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
A suggestion...?
If you can, maybe send this 'visual essay' to sites like Gawker, Glosslip, and other celbrity/Hollywood gossip sites with a brief explanation of what's going on. They'd probably be happy to put this up and they're ALWAYS spilling the beans on something in Hollywood, DC, all that juicy stuff.

I've tried looking for Inuit/Native American casting agencies, but haven't had much luck. I'll also look for casting agencies that are specifically geared towards Asian Americans. I'll keep you posted.
Mar. 26th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
Another good example of Inuit actors/actresses is http://www.atanarjuat.com/ (an award-winning film that used entirely native Inuit actors) many of the actors from this film are on IMDB with lots of film experience. I refuse to believe that it's so hard to find suitable castings for these roles.
Mar. 27th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
This is absolutely amazing! This backs up every argument we've made about the casting for Katara, Sokka, and the rest of the Water Tribe. There's no way someone could come up with a an argument against the point we've been making without looking like a complete idiot (alas, I'm sure there are people out there who are still going to try, but that's besides the point).

I was upset when I heard the rumor of them changing the Water Tribe from Inuits to Vikings, but considering the fact that the actors are white, it would have made sense from a visual standpoint...but now that they're made it clear that they're going to keep the Inuit setting for the Water Tribe, well, I honestly think I'm even more offended. Do they realize how out of place, and flat-out ridiculous this is going to look having white actors dressed in Inuit clothing? Anyone with eyes is going to take one look at the trailer or some promontional photos and realize how wrong this looks. And does this mean that they're going to have the mostly Indian people of the Fire Nation dress in Chinese/Japanese inspired clothing too? Now I'm even more curious to see the actors in costume...and hoping Rathbone hasn't been allowed anywhere near a tanning salon since the last time we saw him. O_O
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