Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) is organizing a protest at Arclight in Hollywood, protesting about the casting of white actors where the original characters were of Asian and Inuit descent, where speaking roles for Asian and Pacific Islanders are very few and far between. If you read the info below, what further concerned MANNA was the potrayal of white actors played "good" and actors of color played "bad."
Image taken from racebending.com
Now, I admit I don't follow the Avatar series. I may have caught about 7 episodes while vacaying at my folks' house in the Philippines back in 2008. And watching the trailers, I also admit that I want to watch the movie because the story and the visuals look mad interesting. I as well as a shitload of others in my crew were waiting for this for months.
but I also can't deny that my actor friends who are of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are having a hard time booking work simply because there are no roles out there available for them.
It's apparent to me that we have not made signficant strides in the Entertainment field regarding API potrayal. Think Bruce Lee, who played the martial arts maven side kick for the Green Hornet. He was allowed to play that role because his face is hidden behind a black mask.
and how Bruce Lee was passed up for the role of "Kung Fu" because he looked "tooAsian" and instead gave the role to David Carradine. Seriously??? you are going to pass up the DOPEST, MOST HANDSOME KICKASS KUNG FU MASTER because he looked "too Asian?"
So whether you are going to watch The Last Airbender or not, I believe we should stand in solidarity with MANAA and their allies to at least show the media that we demand better representation and protrayal of the API community. To make more roles available for our talented API actors and for the Industry to stop solidifying racism and discrimination by portrayal of "good vs bad" equals "less melanin vs more melanin."
OK, our protest is going to be Thursday at the Arclight Cinerama Dome. Address: 6360 Sunset Blvd/Hollywood, CA 90028 1 block west of Vine, Hollywood, 90028. I also drove a block around the site to scope out the best parking. The best is southwest of it off Ivar (opposite Amoeba Records) or De Longpre (1 block south of Sunset). With restaurant validation, it's $2 for two hours, then it goes in 20 minute increments. The others are $6 or $8 flat fee or you need theatre validation.
Also, please tell everyone NOT to park in the Jack 'n the Box restaurant parking lot because they tow cars (I can speak from experience!)
We need people to be there at 5 p.m. sharp because although we're telling the media to come at 6, they often come 1/2 hour early and probably want to get some interviews done with us in time to edit them and put it on the 6:00 news. We will be bringing picket signs. We want to be peaceful and not stop anyone from going into the theatres. We'll just be there to loudly make our points! :)
By the way, when I leave for the protest and you need to reach me, my cell phone is (818) 795-5456.
Please confirm your attendance at this important event and spread the word to your friends. It is imperative that we have an impressive turn out for this.
I sent this notice out to the press if you need a refresher on the issue. Please note we saw the movie yesterday @Paramount (details below).
I’m Guy Aoki, Founding President of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), the only organization solely dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating balanced, sensitive, and positive portrayals and coverage of Asian Americans.
I just wanted to make sure you know about the controversy surrounding M. Night Shyamalan’s film The Last Airbender. It's based on "Avatar," the TV show, where all of the characters were Asian or Inuit. It was popular with a lot of children and their parents and for once gave Asian Americans their own heroes. For the film, the casting directors sent out notices with a stated preference for white people, which is what they ended up with--four white stars--until one of them dropped out. Dev Patel now plays the bad guy leading a nation of brown people against the good guy white nations. It sends the message that Asians can’t be the heroes in their own story.
It's more of the white-washing Hollywood's done to films based on Asian/Asian American source material like 21 and Dragonball: Evolution (Mickey Rourke recently announced he's going to play Genghis Khan in a film for John Milius!). They made these movies with unknowns, so they didn't need big stars to make them successful--these projects were sold on their concepts. Unfortunately, even Shyamalan, who’s Asian American himself, has fallen for the cynical assumption that whites will not pay money to see Asian Americans starring in a film. I hope you'll make note of these issues in your review of the film or write about this important subject.
MANAA even met with Paramount President Adam Goodman to discuss our concerns, and we‘ve received coverage on this issue from the Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Associated Press. We saw the movie at a pre-screening at Paramount yesterday and it was even worse than we thought re: speaking parts for Asian/brown non-bad guys. Except for a few lines from Asian villagers, every Asian who speaks is bad and every white character is good. MANAA and racebending.com are calling for a boycott of the film because we don’t believe discriminatory practices should be rewarded. You can go to manaa.org/videos/html or racebending.com for more information or e-mail me if you have any questions. Thanks.
Founding President, MANAA
I saw the theatrical version of this movie at my company's theater and i was blown away. This movie blew me away with the cinematography, the acting, the costume design, the scenery, and the number of extras they used to make this epic film feel close to what medieval China would seem like.
It's based on the Battle of Red Cliff and the end of the Han Dynasty where three warlords join forces to take down the tyranny of Prime Minister Cao Cao.
Think "300" with less rock and roll and gratuitous torso shots but pumped with Sun Tzu steroids.
Directed by John Woo (made up for his part in The Hulk)
and daniel kaneshiro is hoooooooot!