Straightening Out the Last Airbender (With a New Trailer)

First things first — this is a new trailer for M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender. Yes, it is different from the TV spot that ran during the Super Bowl last weekend. It’s not blowing my mind quite as much as the TV spot, possibly because there’s actual talking in this, and the girl who plays the girl seems kind of terrible, but I’m still impressed by the Lord of the Rings-esque environments and vistas, not to mention the CG magic and action scenes.

But enough about that. Every time I post something about The Last Airbender, someone brings up the fact that the movie is insanely racist, that Aang and the other characters are clearly of ethnic origin, and the fact that they hired a white kid as the star is a travesty. There’s even talk of boycotting the movie.

You guys need to settle down, because there is no way that Hollywood would have ever, ever cast anyone other than a white kid as Aang. I think your heart is in the right place, and I think this is a discussion worth having, but you guys need to stop losing sleep over this.

Although the people in the Avatar cartoon are clearly based on actual ethnicities, it is still a fantasy. It’s much like Dragonball Z in that regard, which you might recall also starred a white kid. As long as Avatar is not set in the real world, the studios aren’t bound by anything. Would the casting for The Last Airbender be different if the story had been set in genuine Asia as opposed to the real world? Not necessarily, but I do think studios would have thought more about it before casting.

Is this racist? In a sense, I guess, but movie studios always cast for their largest audience, and in America, that’s generally white. In Japan, it’s Japanese. So when America remakes a Japanese movie — which happens a lot — they cast a white person instead of a Japanese one. It’s not Hollywood hating Japanese people, it’s them trying to attract the largest audience for their movie. And it’s not just Hollywood, okay? Japan is currently remaking Sideways, that Oscar-winning American wine film starring Paul Giamatti, and guess what? They’re casting Japanese people. It’s rare that films get co-opted from Hollywood, but it happens, and this same “racism” still happens. If Italy was making The Last Airbender, I guarantee you Aang would be played by an Italian kid. That’s just how it works, at least for now. Is it right? Probably not, but it’s also not as evil and malicious as you think. (Via /Film)