In protest against ‘The Last Airbender,’ fans find empowerment

July 02, 2010 | 7:49 p.m.


As protesters paraded outside the ArcLight Hollywood theater Thursday evening, signs filled the air with hand-written phrases such as “Support fair casting!” and “Hollywood is racist and too ignorant to know it!”  The chant of “Get it right, M. Night!” rose above the noise of Sunset Boulevard rush-hour traffic. Meanwhile, just inside the ArcLight’s doors, an usher busied herself preparing rows of 3-D glasses for the next showing of “The Last Airbender.”

Released Thursday, the M. Night Shyamalan film has been criticized for casting Caucasian actors as Asian characters.  Based on the anime-inspired Nickelodeon cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the movie’s story has many connections to Asian and Inuit culture. While the movie is mostly faithful to the story, protesters say, it does not accurately represent the Asian ethnicities of the main characters. While irritating to fans, the issue is particularly upsetting to parents who see the movie as depriving kids of Asian role models.  

Since the “Airbender” casting became known in December 2008, Asian-American activists as well as the TV show’s fans have called for a boycott of the film. They harnessed the Web to promote their cause, particularly through the site On Thursday, protesters took to the streets. The crowd, which included over 100 at its peak and otherwise numbered 50 or 60, was drawn from supporters of three L.A.-based organizations —, the Korean Resource Center and Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA). According to Marissa Lee, a founder of, the turnout at the protest was exactly what its organizers hoped for.

We can’t change the movie, so it’s a symbolic demonstration,” she said. “We want to send the message to Hollywood that its casting practices are no longer accepted by the public.” 

Paramount has responded to the criticisms by announcing in a statement that the cast includes “Asian and pan-Asian actors of Korean, Japanese and Indian decent.” Shyamalan has defended “Airbender” as “the most culturally diverse movie series of all time,” referring to “The Last Airbender” as well as two sequels he plans to make.

As protesters chanted, waved signs and marched in a circular pattern in front of the entrance to the ArcLight’s Cinerama Dome, passersby had mixed reactions. Some stopped to find out what was going on. Others simply took photos. And there were some who just kept walking. But it can be difficult to attract attention in Hollywood. No one took a second glance at the svelte, tanned man who sauntered through the crowd wearing nothing but tight white jockey shorts.  

Though the protesters were passionate and enthusiastic, the atmosphere was peaceful. The only near-violent moment came when Tzi Ma, a Chinese actor known for his role on 24,” spoke so vehemently that spittle flew at the NBC reporter who was interviewing him. It’s on the verge of a hate crime, and I’m sick of it,” he said of the movie.  Other protesters appeared equally frustrated.

 I’m tired of the glass ceiling, I’m tired of the biases, I’m tired of the unequal playing field,” said Yun-Sook Kim Navarre, a poet and activist who instructed her 6-year-old daughter to spell “Asian Actors Now” in red marker on a sheet of poster board. 

Emiliano Celi, an actor of Latino, Chinese and Filipino descent, presented a more matter-of-fact view. We just want fairness and balance in America,” he said. “There’s nothing simpler than that.”  Guy Aoki, a board member for MANAA, thinks the campaign against “The Last Airbender” has contributed to the prediction of lackluster ticket sales.    


Roger Ebert gave the movie half a star.  For Scott Mendelson of, “The Last Airbender” is a “tragedy, pure and simple,” earning a grade of D-plus.  Kenneth Turan of The Times labeled it as “undoubtedly a disappointment.” And teenagers — the movie industry’s key viewing demographic — aren’t too pleased either..  

While many protesters have seen the movie (some attended a Paramount-sponsored screening in order to better support their claims), others such as Europa Henriquez, 18, are sticking to the boycott. Even so, Henriquez is familiar with the audience response. In addition to disagreeing with the casting, Henriquez is also upset that the movie grossly feminized one of the tough-girl characters.  

Lee noted that the “Airbender” controversy has motivated TV fans to ditch the stereotypical couch potato slouch and campaign for fairness. I think it’s been really empowering,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for fans to channel their love and energy for the animated series into activism.” But Lee is aware that a surge in interest doesn’t mean overnight change.

“We’re going to continue to keep an eye on Hollywood,” she said. “It doesn’t stop with ‘Airbender,’ unfortunately.” 

— Daina Beth Solomon

[For the record, 11:50 a.m. July 4, 2010: An earlier
version of this post said that refunds had been
given to half of the moviegoers at Alhambra Renaissance Stadium 14 after they complained about the quality of the film “The Last
Airbender.” The information was attributed to a protester. The reporter did not confirm that information with the theater,
which denies that mass refunds were sought or given.]



TURAN: “Airbender” disappoints but audience may not care

Hollywood whitewash? ‘Airbender’ and ‘Prince of Persia’ anger fans

Shyamalan: ‘Airbender’ rises above race

Will “Airbender” resurrect Shyamalan’s mystique?

Shyamalan had a sense that “Airbender” would make a “killer movie”

Shyamalan should be careful. Remember “Dragonball Z”?

Shyamalan found liberation in box-office failure

Jake Gyllenhaal turned down the lead in “Avatar”

‘Sherlock’ sequel may join ‘Airbender’ and ‘Hornet’ in 3-D parade

Photos: Top, protesters demonstrate outside the ArcLight Hollywood. Bottom, the Asian protagonists from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”  Credits: Daina Beth Solomon and



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128 Responses to In protest against ‘The Last Airbender,’ fans find empowerment

  1. jolo says:

    It better not stop at Airbender – there are plenty of targets out there for miscasting and stereotyping. These racebender clowns better keep it up or else we will all know it was just a concerted plot to have a go at M Night Shyamalan, who is probably one of the most talented directors in Hollywood today.

  2. Matt2 says:

    Will probably be in LA this weekend. Whenever I see a movie in LA, I always attend movies at the ARCLIGHT. They have the best and most knowledgeable ushers in the movie business. Really excited about seeing Avatar, The Last Airbender. The trailers are amazing and this is going to be a huge hit!

  3. Matt McHugh says:

    This depresses me. I loved the show (I'm in my 40's) and was really looking forward to a big screen adaptation to bring it a wider audience. It's unforgivable Shyamalan could take a fantasy world on an imaginative par with Harry Potter or Narnia or even Lord of the Rings and muck it up like this.
    FANS OF THE TV SHOW… Band together and show your support for the original version: the Nickelodeon cartoon created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Talk it up, post in on comment boards, anything to remind the public of the excellent source material and forget the Shyamalan hack-job.
    Don't let this lousy movie condemn the original "Avatar: The Last Airbender" to the dustbin of pop culture history. It deserves much better.
    — mm

  4. whahwhah says:

    I really don't see why everyone is crying. the boy who plays aang is mixed and is actually half-asian while the other two main characters aren't even asian in the series, they're inuit/native american – with blue eyes no less! Seems to me that these folks are just looking for something else to whine about. As a fan of the series, I will definitely be checking out the movie, regardless of the bad reviews and the protesters.

  5. Matt says:

    Seriously? There are much more important things going on in the world than this (the collapse of the US economy since we kinda need that to watch movies). But since were on the topic what about Cliff Curtis? Born in New Zealand yet hes played the roles of a Latino gangster in Training Day, Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar in Blow, and an Arab soldier in Three Kings. Does this seem fair to the Latino who could have played the part in Training Day? How about the Columbian who could have been cast in Blow? Where were you people then? Oh, I see its OK because he has the skin tone to play these roles. Hmmm can someone say double standard? Look, if these people want an equal playing field they should equal it out on all ends. To not would be an act of selfishness. Maybe the Asian actors should team up with the Latino actors on this.

  6. James says:

    Thank you so much for covering this issue!

  7. Tizzle says:

    It's actually better that there are NO Asians in this steaming POS. As an Asian man, I am sooo glad not to have any of our people in this. If we want to set back the Asian race any further in entertainment, this film would have cast Asians. Thank you M. Night! You didn't bring any Asians down with you on this crapfest!!!

  8. Macario says:

    I hate that movie, I AM AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER'S BIGGEST FAN OUT OF EVERYONE, but I don't like tell the world and have posters on my wall LOL. anways I hate that movie so much, they messed it up, whats up with the black actors? they got all the names wrong, ITS AANG NOT UNNG -_- so get it right M Shamala, whatever your name is, and viacom I would recommend bringing back the show for the next 3 seasons soon. And this means that they are not going to do a sequel or they might make a re-make, since this one failed, just like dragon ball evolution, they missed a lot of parts and it looks so fake and it was nothing like the show.

  9. lee says:

    Racism or not, Asians will have some trouble with exposure in Hollywood, because their roles won't be as interchangeable compared to other minorities.
    You can have Latino or American actors plausibly play European protagonists (or vice versa) in film set anywhere around the world. Some British accent and appropriate costumes later, viola, Angelina Jolie is a British woman in the Victorian era. Some Latinos and whites already play middle eastern figures. And Hollywood will ultimately need black or Latino actors to play parts in a American period films that tell the story of THEIR culture, which tends to be more prominent in American history books than that of other minorities.
    If you're an Asian actor, you have almost no chance to depict historical or fictional characters who are "western". Sony would have made a bold statement by picking an Asian actor to play spiderman, but that requires a complete overhaul of the spiderman story. If Hollywood was interested in making films that mandates a total Asian cast with NO white intermediaries (a Tang dynasty period piece perhaps), the question is (1) are Americans interested in seeing that (2) do you have the cast speak Chinese with subtitles or speak English?
    Avatar is a fantasy story, so the "night" probably could have hired some talented Asians. So in a way, I understand some of the frustration.

  10. mazuzu says:


  11. And Won says:

    Aang looked exactly like his animated self, these people need to get a job and a life lol

  12. Alicia says:

    Go protesters! Wish I could have been there.

  13. Pat says:

    HAHHAHA, geeks make me chuckle. Like, it's a movie…not a plan to end world hunger.
    Seriously they need to get off their computers & get a job!
    I'm going to see this movie tomorrow.

  14. Marissa says:

    @Gary Uh, Asian American groups were some of the first to speak out against SB1070. Many Asians are affected by SB1070, too.
    If you drove down Sunset yesterday, you would have seen that the protest featured a diverse group of different people.

  15. Jackie says:

    I saw the movie last night and felt so sad on how badly directed this movie was done. The names were pronounced wrong, the acting was terrible, and some of the bending skills were a bit cheesy looking. I must say it looks better as a cartoon and thats sad because with all the technology available to make movies look like James Cameron made Avatar look they should of done with this one. I agree with this protest with depriving the story from asian actors it's asian culture so why not use asians. If sequels get to be made i think M. Night Shyamalan should not direct it at all. Someone like James Cameron should do it because this story is too epic to let it fail like this. Can anyone say REMAKE PLEASE!!!

  16. shannon says:

    Jeez. I never knew that the main characters were Asian in the cartoon. Just that they did martial Arts and well the world they live in is not even real it's a made up world anyway. True I would have expected maybye, native amercians or a darker skinned race to play the brother and sister, but Ang, well he does look like he could be white. I didn't even know if they were asians Indians or hindus or what they were supposed to be. They are just fire nation, water nation ectra.

  17. processedmeat says:

    Regarding the posts saying that the cartoon isn't Asian inspired, look at this video:

  18. Sk1ds says:

    I think hollywood is racist, but the worst thing is that so many Asians are willing to throw many at an industry that is discriminating against them. Good to protest, but the best thing to do is vote with your pockets. Unfortunately, many Asians vote for those that discriminate against them.

  19. lee (Asian) says:

    Asians and blacks aren't complaining about SB 1070's "racial profiling" of Latinos because it doesn't racially profile Latinos. Read the bill.
    You must be one of these lefties who think minorities are distinguished by default because of their color, or share some special connection among other people of color. Wrong. Not a few Asians hate each other, and their opinion on Mexicans aren't exactly flattering. Both these groups have some notorious xenophobes and bigots within their own communities.
    Have you seen how Asian dramas, cartoons, and game shows depict other people of color? Meanwhile, look at the ideal white aesthetics of every anime characters. You're telling me Uzumaki Naruto look Japanese, much less Asian?

  20. Sammy says:

    People have WAYYYYYY TOO MUCH time on their hands, why can't these people actually do something productive, like THEIR JOB!
    There are WAYYYYYYY more important issues in the world than movie casting!

  21. Sk1ds says:

    In reply to Lee, Asians can't play white roles…or even Asian roles, but white can play Asian roles? Most movies don't involve race anyways.

  22. Latisha says:

    LEE (ASIAN):
    Speak the freaking truth!
    God, this is what I can't stand about Anime. Their characters act Asian (Japanese), but look NOTHING like an Asian (Japanese). They look WHITE!!!! With WHITE features like eye color & hair color.
    Yet Asians call these characters Asian, HA! I wear Asian traditional clothing, eat Asian food, & speak one of the many Asian languages, & I am African-American. Would you still call me Asian?

    • Wild says:

      uhm….I don't think you read enough anime…whether or not someone has purple hair, black hair, blonde hair or blue hair…they're asian.

      you…are just simply appropriating our culture. just like this movie. it's not a cultural buffet table guys…you can't just decide what to take and what to leave.

  23. Alicia says:

    @ Gary, I'm Mexican and you can bet I was protesting this movie too. I know many, many people of all ethinicities who were protesting the unfair casting methods used in this movie.
    @Matt, people who follow the Racebending movement protest ALL forms of discrimination in movies, whether the people are Asians, Latinos, Persians, or any other ethnicity. I'm not a spokesperson of, but I do support their movement and I know that The Last Airbender is only the focus at this moment. They also note whitewashing in Prince of Persia, for example.
    The reason TLA is such a big deal is that it was a show before it was a movie. There are fans all over the world and for the past few years, fans have been faithfully following the story. Once the movie trailers were released, many people finally began to see what was going on in Hollywood.
    Why would you speak against this movement? It may be starting small, but the more awareness we bring to this controversy, the sooner we can bring about fair casting. That'll be the day, when not only white people can play Asians, Latinos, and other ethnicities, but when Asians, Latinos, and anyone else can also take the white roles.

  24. Penelope says:

    @ Ashu
    What are the false claims? You can't place blame on a whole country or a group of Asian people for what the communist leaders in China did. Get your facts straight.
    …and Ashu, it's Buddhism not Bhudhism, Shaolin not Showlin.

  25. dultso says:

    Seriously?? Jackie Chan was in Rush Hour–what more do you want?! Asians–if you want more movies starring Asians then go round up all your rich cousins partying in Vegas and have them fund a movie. Apparently it's safer to roll the dice in craps than it is to cast an Asian in an American film (tee hee). Get over it. I could care less either way. I just wanna see a good movie. I bet the average Asian with a job could care less too. That's the key–a job. It's only unemployed actors that have time for this kind of b.s.–gotta love hollywood!

  26. Jill G. Roberts says:

    An earlier post suggests that the protesters against M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender "grow up," yet I think the real solution for all involved is to "grow young." I believe the director to be a visionary storyteller. And as children visualize a story without weighting it with the distinction of race, neither should we.

  27. Eve says:

    Who has the right tom complain about another's rendition of art???

  28. Heisenberg says:

    I hear what they're saying, but– Am I the only one who thinks that the Airbender kid in that drawing looks incredibly caucasian??
    Also– "on the verge of a hate crime"?? Pump the brakes there, fella..

  29. San Diegan says:

    If you say that the race-bending in Airbender is not a big deal, and then you launch into a bitter diatribe about how Asian people are a certain way, then you are racist. You are using this article about the film as a platform to air out your ugliness.
    Maybe there is a way for me to help you understand this particular issue. Hmmmm… let's try this first:
    * Jackie Chan cast as Ronald Reagan
    * George Takei (Sulu) cast as Alexander the Great
    * Masi Oka (from Heroes) cast as Tom Sawyer
    All of these (not Reagan) are talented and deserving actors.

  30. Andy says:

    Some facts that need to be straightened out…
    The creators of the series have ACKNOWLEDGED that the main characters of the Avatar are ASIAN, and the series is based on ASIAN cultural influences.
    I don't believe it says anywhere Noah Ringer is MIXED, M. Night only commented that he LOOKED that way.
    All 4 main characters, including Zuko, were CAUCASIAN, before Jesse dropped out.
    The casting call writes: "CAUCASIAN and other minorities…"
    *so much for color blind
    In response to "Lee", yes, people would be interested. Crouching Tiger was a huge success.
    Most importantly, only 1.8% of movies portray Asian Americans in lead roles, and most are for foreign Asian actors and for martial arts themed movies. Asian AMERICAN actors are stuck in cliched, stereotyped roles or meander in the background.
    If EVEN THE CREATORS of the series affirm the characters are Asian, why would Paramount screen for CAUCASIAN actors (look at the original casting call)?

  31. Andy says:

    "this is funny, asian people are the most racist and materialistic people I have ever met and they are making this false claim."
    Wow, you do a great job of pigeon-holing an entire group of people.
    The same can be said about Christians, Christian HISTORY, and Christian hatred against non-believers (this, coming from a Christian American).
    The same can be said about atheists, agnostics, Muslims, people of any nationality.
    You need to grow up. There are just too many people on this board who need to get educated, and look outside of their small window of prejudice.

  32. Alicia says:

    How can Asian and minority actors "get a job" if Hollywood (especially Paramount) gives nearly 90% of lead roles to Caucasian actors?
    What does a cartoon have to look like to "look Asian?"Avatar: The Last Airbender is an anime show. Typically anime characters will not have the features that many associate with Asians.
    We do realize that Katara and Sokka are Inuit, which is why we are so upset that they were cast as Caucasians. However Noah Ringer is not mixed, if he was Mr. Shyamalan would have been broadcasting that all over. Shyamalan specifically said he LOOKS mixed – but he isn't. Ringer is of European descent.
    I hold no grudge against the actors, though in my opinion the acting wasn't exactly Oscar worthy. Still, the acting quality often stems from the director's vision for the film, so they were probably closed guided in their acting by Shyamalan, resulting in not so great a quality.

  33. Terrence says:

    Don't be a bunch of hypocrites fellow minorities. I'm African American and I support their cause. My people would be up in arms like crazy had they cast jake gyllenhall or matthew mcconaughey as Ali or Mandela. And you latinos would cry bloody murder if hollywood casts brad pitt as Cesar Chavez.

  34. Adrienne Mosch says:

    I debated this whole issue when I first heard about it and I can see why Asians are upset. Being of Irish decent…I would be extremely offended if say David Beckham played the role of Roy Keane, just as most Caucasians would be offended if say Will Smith played Superman. Casting should stay true to the story and it's not about being racially charged casts…its about having the original story stay true.

  35. nice says:

    @walker smith. They are asians, the animators/creator stated it themselves.
    Let's be honest, this is racism/profiling. If someone were to cast a black person to play a white person, there would be chaos and riots. Since Asian people are considered pushovers in hollywood, they can get away and cast white people to play asians.

  36. Carl says:

    There's nothing worse than a moron with a "cause". Utterly ridiculous.

  37. Anonymouse says:

    "Shyamalan has defended 'Airbender' as 'the most culturally diverse movie series of all time…'"
    Riiight, if you call whitewashing the heroes and throwing all your actors who are people of color in the background "diverse". And if the TLA reviews are true, all that nonsense about Peltz, Rathbone, and Ringer being chosen for their roles because they were the best actors was a straight-up lie.
    Anyway, thank you for bringing more attention to this issue!

  38. nemogbr says:

    Japanese anime characters are not white Unless specifically designed to be:
    There are many who obviously think all anime or anime inspired characters are white. Some people look at character designs from an ethnocentric viewpoint. For example, they would likely say that a smiley face, which is just a circle, two dots, and a curved line, is white.
    The Japanese do not see their characters as white. For example, take Usagai Tsukino, or Minako Aino from Sailor Moon….Blue Eyes, blonde hair. Yet, from the context of the show they are CLEARLY Japanese. Take Yuya Shiina from Samurai Deeper Kyo…blonde hair, green eyes, yet she is also CLEARLY Japanese.
    Hair style/colour, eye colour, etc HAS NOTHING to do with a character being white or not. It's in the context of the story, the character's background, name, etc. If in anime a white person is depicted, usually his/her features will be greatly exaggerated (big nose, non-anime looking eyes, and of course, the terrible accent when speaking Japanese, etc.), but this will change if the anime is a eurocentric show i.e. Hellsing, Full Metal Alchemist.
    Here's a good read as a start.

  39. dawg3294 says:

    This isn't "just a movie". The media has a strong influence societal norms. If we continue to allow Hollywood to choose how they depict (or not depict) people of color, racism will never cease.

  40. Bruce says:

    1.) People who claim that these people protesting have too much time on their hands are the same people reading this blog and writing comments. To be out exercising their rights as Americans is admirable.
    2.) Making outrageous claims such as "Chinese kill Tibetan monks, therefore they are against Buddhism, hypocrites, and evil" does not relate to what these protesters are doing at all. Furthermore it shows what people will say when they don't agree with a topic but can't think of anything enlightening to say.
    3.) Saying that there are more important things to protest against so these people shouldn't be protesting is also wrong. That is like saying one should not protest and be active in the oil spill dilemma because they should be working on the unemployment crisis.
    4.) Stating that Asians never helped the African American community or Latino/Hispanic community is yet another wrong comment. Asians have helped many ethnic minorities and their causes through out history. Just because they were never featured in the newspapers doing so doesn't mean they didn't help. Stating that Asians should first help out other groups is one of the most absurd things I have read. It is also very much against the point of this article.
    Reading some of these comments shows a somewhat microcosm of the mood in America. I am glad that these protesters and organizations are finally making a stand. Asian Americans and Native Americans are by far one of the most underrepresented groups in the United States.

  41. Jerry says:

    Continued… I like the idea that regardless of what race or gender you were born in, you can identify with a character's deeds and behavior, and not their physical traits. (And yes I think Latisha, the black woman poster who has a strong interest in Asian culture, is more Asian than me, the whitewashed Chinese guy.)
    Still, I'm not naive. I know my views are very much in the minority of the human race. Market and demographic demands are going to prefer certain races and genders be cast in certain roles, no matter how fictional the character is. The likelihood this will change significantly in our life times is very low. If non-white people start dominating Hollywood casts, it won't be because of principle, but simple demographics. That's just capitalism for you.
    Don't fool yourself into thinking the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to movie casting in any way.

  42. joe says:

    I wish I was protesting…I would love to say to my grandchildren, "Yes I stood for a cause, I protested a movie because some of the actors were not the same race as they were in the source material…"
    That was sarcasm.
    I get the protesting. I'm a mutt, I'm told I look Mexican, Filipino, or "some sort of asian?" all the time. At the same time, I also realize that we live in a time when technology allows anyone to reach the masses at a lower cost than ever before…
    If there are so many angry fans out there…get together, pool your resources and make something. Make your own series, your own movie. Stop being so inefficient with protests at a theater about some movie and make the change you want to see.
    Yes it may not be on par with a Hollywood studio, BUT if there is enough interest in it (read: looks profitable) some studio might be willing to let you guys do what you want. And if it's not a traditional studio, maybe someone would be willing to invest.
    It's ridiculous that in this digital era where we have the ability to create so much media so cheaply that you guys can't just make your own. You protest studios, all that effort and time that could go into making the things you want to see.

  43. Charles says:

    You know whow could use some asian support right now? Rob Schnieder! In honor of the boycott, go see the racial harmony infused film "Grown Ups" instead.

  44. Cutter says:

    Good for them.
    Personally, I don't cast minority actors or put minority characters in my scripts at all, for just this reason.
    Who needs the grief?

  45. iamanasiangirl says:

    I am upset that they did not cast Asian actors. I am an Asian mother with children ages 11, 12 and 14. They are huge fans of the cartoon. They know the characters are Asian. To me, it's saying that Asians are not good enough so lets cast caucasians. They used to do that in the old days..but not now..It's 2010.

  46. iamanasiangirl says:

    Wow a lot of people's comments are so insensitive. for those who think that Avatar's characters are not Asian are just plain ignorant. Particularly to Shannon who said that she did not even know they were Asian…Duh? It is set in Asia. See that's exactly what happens! The dominant group (Caucasians) think that everything is about them! Because that's what they see everywhere-Magazines, movies…etc. Here is a chance for this movie to introduce the Asian Culture. Think about it? If you have a story set in the 1960's in Chicago…about a girl who has powers and she wears a poodle skirt and all that…How would you feel if they casted Asian people not whites?

  47. Eric says:

    M. Night envisions a lot of crap. He had 1 good movie and I'm surprised that little bit of goodwill has carried him this far. M. Night has wasted enough of my time and money with his bore-fests.
    I'm boycotting this movie because I had a feeling it was going to suck.
    I haven't seen the movie but I have read that the main characters are non-Asian… and the Fire Nation is Indian. Really M. Night!?!?!? Really!?!?!?

  48. bigcat says:

    The posters of all ethnicities who don't think this is a big deal are either white or under 40. Anyone who wasn't white and 40 or over can recall a time when just about every postivive role model on television, in cartoons and in movies, was white. I loved John Wayne growing up as a kid, but man, I would have loved to have had a role model that reflected my own background and it just wasn't there. And I don't just mean my pop, 'cause he was a great guy. But when all the cool people you see on TV or in the movies are white, it's hard not to grow up thinking that there isn't much value in your own ethnicity. That's how it was when I grew up in LA. Things are better now, much better, but protests like these are good to remind producers that this is stil important to alot of people.

  49. David C says:

    Ok – casting aside .. the movie SUCKED. It sucked so much that practically EVERY critic gave it below a "D". There isn't much below "D".
    It wasn't just the casting – everything was done wrong. M. Night just took the money and ran. He gave the minimum effort he could to produce some rendition that could marginally pass by the weakest standard.
    Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times put it best:
    "…an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented." ( "D-" )
    See here:

  50. Luina says:

    I am Latin and didn't have any biases of any kind towards Airbender, the movie. I didn't know anything about it, but saw it last night and was disappointed. The scenes and story line were cool as well as the costumes and therefore I was expecting something, a new world to be shown and explored as a viewer. As the character images started appearing, followed by dialogues and mannerisms that was way too familiar for me, I was disappointed. The dialogue script and character casting was too Americanized and it pulled me out of this supposedly cool mysterious world. What I mean about too Americanized, is that the dialogue among characters were typical of what and how you would here it in the U.S. The character casting didn't bother me too much, but it also kept pulling me out this foreign world and back to the U.S. I think viewers are more sophisticated than that right? A movie should do it's work and TAKE YOU to a different world if that's what it suppose to be.

  51. Romita says:

    I had very low expectations going to watch this one. As a fan of the cartoon, I was upset with M. Night for his casting choice, but still wanted to give the film a chance. What adds salt to the wound is that the acting of the three leads was awful.
    It is quite noticeable that all of the villains are brown. And, it is an insult to say that this film is the most diverse film just because the extras cast in the movie happen to be Asian. Shame on Paramount and shame on M. Night Shyamalan.

  52. Chris says:

    Everyone should not see Paramount's movie Airbender for a lack of Asian casting in this movie. Paramount should be ashamed. Perhaps a boycott of all Paramount movies should be considered including Iron Man, Dragon, Grease, Dinner for Schmucks, etc.

  53. Elton says:

    I liked it. I particularly don't care about the racial casting problems with this movie, I liked it. I doubt James Cameron can direct children. Chris Columbus can.
    Although I agree on how wooden three of them were, my sister and mother disagrees. They believe that the kids acted better than the actors in the latest vampire movie — Eclipse. Just now I noticed how people are just getting uptight over how the movie was cast. Really, get over it. I was impressed with the casting that M. Night had done (Water benders are European, Fire benders are Indians, and Earth Benders are south east Asians). Besides, we haven't seen Ba Sing Se, yet. Which can be cast with actors from China. So give M. Night a chance.
    It's an American story in a fantasy land. It's not purely Asian in any sense of the word. Like Battleship Yamato (mmm, the best movie to come out of Japan in a decade . . .)

  54. Joe says:

    I liked the movie.

  55. Ayra says:

    With the casting, I can sort of understand what M. Night was trying to do. He was trying to input the diversity that was already in the animated series – each nation looked different from the other. If you think about it, you could even say that the point of 'Airbender' was to show the kids watching the animated series that despite differences in culture or appearance, you still have to unite together in order to achieve peace.
    So I understand what he was trying to accomplish. However, due to it's roots in Asian culture, I believe that more people expected there to be more Asian actors. The movie failed to live up to their casting expectations and they became angry and protested.
    On another note, this article gives the impression that the Edwards Alhambra Renaissance Stadium 14 theatre goers demanded refunds entirely because of miscasting. While I'm sure some did, there were also other factors. The acting was dreadful (and I mean BAD) and the dialogue itself couldn't be saved even if there were Asian actors. This movie was largely a mistake, with one exception – the fighting scenes were decent, though not worth the $10 I paid to watch it.
    In short, the movie was and would have been a horrifying flop, with or without Asian actors. But we have to remember that 'Airbender' is largely about working together despite our diversity, so the movie could not be wholly cast with Asian actors.

  56. mike says:

    uhh free country, if someone chooses to pay their own money to make a movie, they can decide whatever they want to be in that movie, who cares if there asian or not, harry potter isnt really a wizard.

  57. MRCAB says:

    Nice article. You've covered a lot in very few words.

  58. Reiter says:

    @ Bruce: Thank you for saying so succinctly what I've wanted to say.
    Apathy breeds ignorance, and the ignorance I see be touted by all these people saying "this isn't important" or "I don't care" or "get a life" or "lighten up, it's just a movie" or "Asians are the REAL racists" – it's all just a red herring to discount our side as irrelevant and speaks volumes to the stupidity of racist Americans who don't want to listen and are happy with the status quo as long as they're "entertained."
    You fight for equality for taking small steps such as this. Well, we want equal and fair representation in the media! And the only thing Hollywood understands is green and dollar signs, so boycott this movie and M. Night! We will be heard! And I hope this movie bombs and bombs hard!

  59. Reiter says:

    @ Eve: Actually, it's the right of everyone in America. It's called the First Amendment and the right to free speech. These protesters are exercising that right. Can't get any more American than that. If M. Night can make this crapfest of a movie to further his so-called "vision" then we as a people can voice or disapproval of it as well. This nation was founded on protest, in fact. Read a book please.
    @ troy: Wow, are you kidding me? Are you saying Asians are at fault because Caucasians are the holders to all the cards when it comes to power dynamics and racial privilege? Way to blame the victim, pal. Maybe you should ask yourself this: why are these companies hiring white (and only white) pretenders to make themselves look good? Here's a hint: because the media is the tool with which they beat us all over the head repeatedly with the message, "white makes right." This is actually the whole point of this news article and our protests against TLA movie!

  60. Mar says:

    I don't think it's cool for some people to be so passive about the issue. Yes, Avatar takes place in a fantasy world, but an Asian-inspired fantasy world (There's Chinese calligraphy in the beginning of the show!). People who are colorblind think they're not being racist but indeed they're participating in it.
    There's a reason why Aragorn wasn't black, there weren't any Asian Elves, no Hispanic Wizards, etc. in LORD OF THE RINGS. Hell, the race of men were ALL WHITE! It's fantasy world is based on EUROPEAN folklore and legends. And it makes sense. All white cast with British accents. If you ask me, I think all the colored people were orcs.
    So to all those people who didn't even know there were Asians on the original show, where the hell did you think all that cultural stuff came from? As an American-born Asian I can say that growing up I thought I was a blond-haired, blue-eyed white boy. That's all I saw growing up- white heroes. Then I saw Bruce Lee, got older, and the world started to become more clear.
    All I can do assume that those passive people are ones without a culture to be proud of let alone be angry over. It's even more sad when you realize that those people are part of the AMERICAN culture. So what is it? You love our food, our martial arts, our philosophies and way of life but NOT OUR PEOPLE? well, maybe just our women…

  61. Jerry says:

    I agree with the poster who said it’s a good thing Asian actors were not cast in this movie. Apparently it’s quite terrible. Whew, we dodged a bullet on that one, eh?
    Anyway, this whole situation reminds me of a post I made on The One Ring.Net’s forums, years before the first Lord of the Rings film had been released. The film was in pre-production and I made a post suggesting that a multi-racial cast be chosen for the hero characters of the book. It was a very innocent post. I grew up reading these books, and as another poster said here, I was young, so I loved the heroes of the book and didn’t see how race played a factor in what made them cool. Therefore, my logic went, there’s no strong reason why The Fellowship had to be entirely white. It’s a fantasy universe, it’s story doesn’t require certain skin colors or races.
    But my post set off a powderkeg on the forums. 99% of the fans of the LOTR books were absolutely adamant: the Fellowship was 100% white. The setting was a mixture of European mythology, and the characters are described in the books as having white features, therefore.. white cast members are required. There was no talk about finding the best actors for the role, regardless of race. Race was important. They had to be white. End of discussion. Gandalf the Wizard, the Jesus Christ-like figure of LOTR, had to be white. (Can you imagine a black Jesus? That’d be just too weird, right?)
    Meanwhile, this Airbender story is interesting in that the setting is a mixture of Asian mythology, so I’m sure a lot of people are assuming the characters are Asian. Roger Ebert in his review of the film said the characters are “clearly Asian”, (personally, I don’t see how that’s “clear” but moving on..).
    The irony is that many people on the OneRing.Net responded to my post by saying that “if there’s a fictional universe that blends African mythologies together… then of course, all the hero actors should be black!” But here we are, with a similar situation to that, and the hero actors remained the default, safe bet choice of white.
    Personally I think fictional universes like these should usually be free of race requirements, whether it be the European-esque Lord of the Rings setting, or the Asian-esque Airbender setting. So I don’t see Aang as a character that needs to be of any particular race or even gender (same goes with Gandalf).
    These characters were probably not crafted by their creators as a racial or gender or sexual orientation pride statement, either. These characters are defined by their personalities and deeds. (It’s not like The X-men’s Storm character, where you can get the impression that the diversity and identities of this X-woman and other characters in the setting is deliberate and important to the overall message.)

  62. dultso says:

    Give me a break. Do you all honestly think that whites would protest if Spike Lee wanted to make a Superman movie with a black lead? Seriously??? I might laugh about it. If it was good–I would actually watch it. LOL!!!! Who's racists?? The minorities. They can say whatever they want about a white person without a backlash but even a hint of a racist expression from a white person and they'll be instantly terminated. This race card is getting over played and you all are going to start getting a huge push back from white people pretty soon.
    Nobody is restricted these days on the 1st amendment more than a white person and most are getting sick of it. BET awards anyone?? Could you imagine if white people made an exclusively white awards show??? I'm all for equal rights regardless of race–but it's this sense of "entitlement" attitude that makes me start to want to push back. I would like to believe that most minorities are not like what this article portrays but I'm starting to wonder.
    This is America!!!! Hollywood is not a country–it's a business!! If you've got a better product–no one is stopping you from making it. That's the great thing about a free country–No on is saying you can't make a movie the way you want. Go do it!!
    As for M. Night–good job–Water People (white)–Earth People (Asian)–Fire people (Eastern Indian)–Air People (???) . . . uuhh I guess it's the black people who should be mad.

  63. yu says:

    Of COURSE the movie failed. Aside from the small minority of people who persistently believe movies should only have white actors, the REST of america and the world are sick of it. Most of us don't know whether to laugh or cry at a movie that expects us to believe that an asian world filled with asian language, culture, and people only have white characters. Seriously come on. I'm ALL for suspending disbelief for the sake of enjoying fantasy. I Am NOT for implicitly or explicitly supporting racist hollywood casting practices.
    M night may have tried to deflect the true problems with his casting choices by creating false arguments but most of us aren't falling for it. The audience is a lot smarter than he gives us credit for.
    M night's supporters are also blind followers/sheeps.
    @ashu: The chinese were the ones who brought buddhism to tibet, alright? And the movie has nothing to do with the argument over buddhism but rather racist hollywood casting practices. And lastly, please learn to spell so people won't immediately dismiss your opinions. It's spelled "Buddhism" and "shaolin". M night isn't "bending rules" in his movie. He's being a self-hating bigot.
    @Jolo: the fact that you claim m night is "one of the most talented hollywood directors" proves you're a blind follower. Aside from 6th sense, he hasn't made another watchable movie. And I'm speaking as a person who has seen ALL of his movies. No it's not because I'm a masochist. I simply kept hoping his movies would become better, and they haven't, so there.
    All the people who think cartoons can't possibly have anything to do with race in real life would be the first to protest if a live-action peter pan movie starred an asian-american Peter.

  64. yu says:

    I really like how every time people try to have an intelligent conversation about race in the media, some idiot/troll who doesn't honestly care about the conversation always has to drop his ignorant 2 cent point of view.
    The people who claim the cartoon characters are caucasian obviously know NOTHING about anime/anime-style cartoons. In such types of cartoons, it is possible for a character to be 100% asian but have all sorts of hair/eye color, including fantastical colors such as blue, white, gray, green, and pink. THe viewer is expected to accept such colorings as normal and to understand the characters as asian. That's just the way anime is.
    And all the people who are trying to minimize the importance of this issue (that is, hollywood's persistent sanctioned practice of racism) as unimportant is quite honestly sad. I wish we ALL had your luxury of dismissing the topic of racism in the media (as well as other sectors) but oh wait, many of us are of the group that is discriminated against!! If today I wanted to go to hollywood, no matter how talented I am, I'd be pigeonholed into stereotypical roles or to be cast as an extra to garnish a movie. The SAME people who are always claiming there is a "problem" of PC gone awry are always the same ones who become furious when a movie chooses to cast a white character with a non-white actor (which RARELY happens even thought it's more noticeable because people EXPECT white actors for every role). If today, we decided to cast peter pan, Pinocchio, superman, spiderman, and other FICTIONAL characters with non-white actors, there would be huge protests.
    for all the people who commented "who cares", well you obviously do because you commented.
    for all the people who proudly say they'll watch the movie, well I have but one thing to say: there's no cure for masochism.
    frankly, I have a hard time believing anyone would pay good money in THIS economy for a piece of crap. But it's a free society so go ahead.

  65. yu says:

    I can't stand people who make false arguments because frankly, anyone with a brain will see right through it.
    Is anyone ELSE sick of the "asians are racist so they don't get to protest" argument?
    First of all, why should ALL asians be held responsible for the actions of a few? If one white guy robbed me, does that mean all white guys are robbers? Second of all, the people who demean asian-amerians by stating supposed bad behavior of asians in asia are quite frankly ridiculous. Why should americans of asian descent be held responsible for what people in asia do? I don't hold irish-americans personally responsible for the behaviors of the IRA do I? There's is a distinction between irish and irish-americans, as well as italians and italian-americans, and of course asians and asian-americans. These are not interchangeable categories. France and Italy have some of the most racist policies I've ever had the misfortune of reading about and yet I don't label all french and italian-amerians as racists.
    False arguments are used by the feeble-minded to deflect the discussion away from the REAL issue.

  66. yu says:

    I'm not surprised there are people who think the cartoon characters are white. They view every fictional character as white by default, unless the character is drawn with stereotypical/racist features.
    Since plenty of east-asians are fair-skinned, whites have an easier time seeing the characters as "white", especially in the case where the characters aren't drawn with the ridiculous "slanty eyes" that american cartoons love to use with asian characters.
    Ursela K Leguin also remarked that she was NOT surprised that most of her white readers thought the characters in Earthsea were whites even though they're actually tan-skinned characters. (in earthsea, whites were a minority).

  67. yu says:

    People like to say "there's no race in fantasy" when americans of non-white extraction protest their exclusion in movies. But they never seem to see race when a fantasy movie is filled with white actors.
    If they see a movie such as LOTR, the don't even NOTICE all the actors are white. They just see it as "normal". And when somebody points out the cast is entirely white, they argue this is right simply because the story is based on european folklore.
    And yet when a movie is based on asian folklore and all the characters have ASIAN NAMES, they suddenly feel people are paying too much attention to race. And once again, to "avoid paying too much attention to race", all the actors are white by default.
    Basically what the supporters of hollywood racism is saying is this: If a european fantasy has a white cast, it's right because the characters in the story are white. And if a story is an asian fantasy, they should have white actors, because otherwise we're paying too much attention to race.

  68. yu says:

    And lastly, thank you LA times for giving fair-minded people a venue to state their stance.
    I believe equality isn't given, or earned, but rather fought for. Tomorrow is the 4th of july. I hope the american spirit for democracy, equality, and independence lives on people.
    Have independent thought. Don't just go watch any movie willy nilly even if you don't support the discrimination against american actors fo non-white ethnicity.
    Fight for equality by continuing to protest racist practices ANYWHERE.
    And lastly, practice your right to free speech in a democratic society. Hollywood is free to make crap/racist movies and you are free to protest it.
    Don't let apathy/laziness win!

  69. yu says:

    and you'll probably never make a successful movie.
    Hollywood has to try so hard to keep foreign movies away because it simply can't compete.
    A recent news article mentions that for the past few years, domestic films in japan has continuously beat out hollywood films and now they're trying to lure more japanese moviegoers by dubbing the films in japanese. I think it would be a LOT easier to lure japanese viewers by including some asian-american actors!

  70. david says:

    I can't help but feel a little satisfaction that the casting choices is being panned as well as the movie. Call it karma, but I'm glad these producers and studios aren't going to make money off of a film so blatant it's insistence in hiring white leads over more appropriately casted asians.
    Kudos to the protesters to take a weekend off of work to get the message out. Fairness IS IMPORTANT, even if some people still wear rosy colored glasses that everyone is getting equal treatment.

  71. david says:

    troy, your comment is in itself racist. They're probably racist themselves, so they deserve to be discriminated against? That's absolutely bull. The protestors didn't come over from China or Japan to protest this movie. They live HERE, in AMERICA, in CALIFORNIA where diversity is respected.

  72. Sachmo says:

    Avatar the tv series is Asian themed so what is the problem with keeping TLA the movie true to the creator's initial vision. It would have been a great opportunity for Paramount and M Night Shyamalan to cast Inuit, Asian Americans as well as Asian Nationals in those roles. All the studios have a diversity department to handle casting of movies but they don't seem to be doing a very good job.
    Not much has changed in the almost fifty years I have lived in this country. I was hopeful that Asian Americans would be better represented in tv and movies in my life time and that did not happen. I grew up thinking I was white because of what I saw in the media even though I am a full blooded Asian.
    I was hopeful that it would change by the time my kids reached adulthood and they are almost full fledged adults (one is still in college and the other in high school) and that has not happened yet. My children are fourth generation Asian Americans and sadly not much has changed for them. We still get excited when we see Asian faces on tv commercials and shows and shout out to the kids that there is an Asian on the tv. There are a few more sightings on tv commercials, so the advertisers have finally figured out that we have buying power $$$$.
    Recently, Dev Patel said on a morning tv interview that the Avatar tv series had a large and loyal following. How disappointing for the Avatar fans to have to endure M Night Shyamalan's personal interpretation and poor casting of this popular anime series.
    The hugely popular Anime Expo this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center will bring large cash revenues to the City of Los Angeles. How unfortunate that the TLA movie could not be true to its creators and be genuine in its casting of Asians for a creative property that is Asian themed. It sounds like the movie is going to bomb, so maybe the studios will pay attention and stay true to the spirit of any original anime when adapting it into a movie.

  73. parker says:

    Would someone explain to these protesters, as well as the liberals at the L.A. times, that acting jobs aren't basic human rights issues? Someone? Anyone? And, while you're at it, would you also explain that producers and directors have the right to cast anyone they want in a movie?
    I trust that these protesters will be protesting the new "Thor" movie which has Asian actors playing Norse gods.But, somehow I doubt it.
    People, there aren't enough acting roles for anyone.

  74. saneblane says:

    This has gone on for far too long. the characters themselves have certain races and any fan of the show knows it. they did this crap with Dragonballz movie, Prince of Persia and now this. After watching the tv series for soo long and knowing that the main character is an Asian kid, it looks weird that you have a white kid acting as an Asian when their are still some live (honest to god) Asian kids around. This is ridiculous and am sure this film lost a lot of serious fan support for that obvious reason.

  75. Dan says:

    So they recast James West as Will Smith, there's complaints about Spiderman not being a black man, the native american enemies in Jonah Hex were turned into the Confederate army, the muslim enemies in Sum of all Fears and Angels and Demons were changed, they changed the satyr in Percy Jackson into an african american, they changed the police chief in Max Payne into an african american…
    But cast Caucasians in a part originally portrayed by Caucasian actors with Caucasian likenesses and all of a sudden Hollywood is racist?
    Poor guys can't win.

  76. Sarah says:

    Uh, Nick Fury was white, but I didn't see anybody pitching a hissy fit when Samuel L. Jackson was cast to play him. Patrick Stewart is British, but Captain Picard is French. Alan Rickman is also British, while Hans Gruber is German. Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves played brothers in Much Ado About Nothing. Sometimes the best actor to play a role isn't of the race or ethnicity that was originally specified.

  77. Android says:

    The movie was a work of art,as good as the trailer and even better.Please do not wait to watch this movie on DVD,sneak in if you have to and watch it in 3D.This movie is like taking a spiritual trip without the drugs.I'm sorry that the movie did not live down to some of the movie critics expectations. Maybe if the director would have used Charlie Brown with an arrow tatooed on his forehead the movie would have gotten rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times.

  78. Ang says:

    I really liked the movie. My problem was the girl playing Sakora could not act and did not pronounce names correctly. His name is pronounced Aang not "Aung." This frustrated me as I watched the show the entire time it was on tv. Not everyone in the movie was supposed to be Asian. Hollywood is always changing things and characters anyway. I believe the pronouncing of his name was the most irritating thing for me to bear. M. Knight should have watched the show right??? The people of the Avatar show should have been involved…did they not listen to the movie before it was showed to people? Please pronounce the names correctly. As a teacher it just made me mad. The movie was good, the action super and we did not see Twilight:Eclipse first.

  79. Asatruteacher says:

    I wonder at the silence of those protesting at the casting of Idris Elba as Heimdall in the new Thor movie.

  80. DrSoze says:

    In the TV series, the only people that overwhelmingly looked asian, were the old people.
    I’m not a fan of cartoons, and never liked anime. I’m a near 40yr old scientist. In my younger years I studied some Shaolin/Filipino/Indonesian martial arts. A friend whose children were into it wanted to know if “bending” was a real martial art (heh). Anyway, it got me watching the first episode, and the second, and the next thing I know I’m sitting in front of Nickelodeon glued to the screen like a 10yr old boy. I’m a total “Avatar- LAB” fan-atic. Watching it multiple times, watching the enhanced episodes, the making-of stuff.
    Anyway, I never saw race in the series. I saw a fantasy world, where pieces of MANY cultures collided & were mixed in. Yeah, the Water Tribes lived on ice (like Inuit), but many had blue (like the WATER) eyes. And all the different types of people fighting in the night time Earthbending Matches. The people who took over the abandoned air temple- what race were they? The original firebenders, the Sun Tribe, looked suspiciously Native American. The rogue firebender that left the army, that was Aangs first attempt at learning from a firebending master- he didnt look very Asian. The chick with the 20′ aardvark, not very asian. What about Shoe, and his brothers? Not very Asian. The swamp benders, the sand surferish people. King Boomi (sp?)?
    Yes, there were people who looked asian. There were also people who didn’t. No one tribe looked like they were ALL any race. Sure, there were strong influences of Asian culture in this FANTASY world, but the people weren’t divided by race, they were divided by essence. Yes, much of the fighting was Asian influenced. Do Asians only want to be in “kung-fu” movies? To cast this movie (I havent seen it, so I’m thinking about if I was casting for a live-action version of the TV series) as all Asian because this fighting & sorcery looked like kung-fu would have been racist. Heck, almost all fighting in the movies is based on Asian styles- because it looks cool. They didn’t cast Jason Borne as Filipino because he used Kali.
    I don’t think the people arguing this are very well versed in the source material. Aang certainly doesn’t look Asian. He’s got pseudo-shaolin robes on, but I don’t ever recall seeing Shaolins ride on air-scooters or ride flying bison. His facial features just arent drawn Asian. Period. I think he was cast well.
    The protesters are injecting race into a story where there was none. Seems they are the ones who are racist, and its not really race thats the complaint, its the usual color we fight about- GREEN $.

  81. laugh, says:

    I didn't know that this movie or the original cartoon were set on planet Earth or with populated with humans….
    Some people just look to be offended wherever they can.

  82. Aisling says:

    Wow, I'm asian and I find this controversy unconstroversial. Who cares? The characters are Eskimoes so the cast doesn't need to be all Asian.

  83. Jack C NYC says:

    on another note, I walked out of Knight and Day… couldn't stay longer than the gunfight in the airplane scene… ugh.

  84. billy says:

    I'm so sick of hearing how Aang doesn't look asian in the cartoon. Um he and his entire people are culturally based on Tibetan monks.
    To those who say he doesn't have "asian" features, does he have white features???? Animes are drawn fairly ambiguously. Do you need the cartoon to be drawn as a completely ridiculous caricature with squinty eyes and a rickshaw hat because that is your sole understanding of what a person of Asian descent is? He doesn't look any more caucasian than say Jade in the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoon series. Would you cast a caucasian to play her despite the fact that she is related to Jackie Chan and has stated her family is in China?
    THAT is the problem with just "letting this slide because it's just a movie". People have no idea how much of an impact our media has over our understanding of reality. I can't tell you how often I'm told I don't look typically "asian". Casting directors do the exact same thing! They have a narrow, media supported understanding of what an asian person should look like, and cast accordingly. And the cycle continues.

  85. billy says:

    @dultso, you sound as stupid as your name. There will not be need of a protest over a black superman because it will NEVER be made. They talked about making spideman black and look how fast that got shot down. And there WAS uproar over Beyonce even considering the role of Wonder Woman. You are in a dream world. A hypocrytical one in which you magically assume white people can't do wrong. You expect too much of yourself.

  86. rigpa says:

    so it's m. night's fault that not enough talented young asians came to the casting call?

  87. Reiter says:

    @ nick: You first. Unless you're a First Nation / Native American person, then please take your own advice and go back to the country of your own origin and quit trolling this article.
    @ yu: Right on! I'm sick of (white) people always dismissing the concerns and sense of morale outrage of Asian-Americans, and brushing these issues aside as "unimportant" or inconsequential. Because movies and media really do have an important and very substantial impact on the way Americans view other cultures, races, and nationalities. Talk to any Indian-American (or similarly brown person) and ask them if they were mercilessly taunted with monkey brain eating jokes when they were a kid at school following the release of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
    The white privilege I see being touted around by these people who couldn't care less about the issues at hand (but somehow they find the time to tell us that they don't care and then insult us with "Asians are the REAL racists!") disgust me. It must be so nice to be able to so casually dismiss the very real pain, morale outrage, and sense of injustice of other people simply because it's much cooler and "edgier" to be some apathetic douchebag who says he doesn't care and yet cares enough to insult us. That's the essence of white privilege and how their sense of entitlement works, unfortunately. "White makes right."

  88. Reiter says:

    To those saying, "Nick Fury can't be black, he's white!" – Marvel actually created the alternate universe black version of the character specifically for Samuel L. Jackson, so that point is invalid! Similarly, there actually is an Asian-American character (I believe it's Amadeus Cho but don't quote me on that) hanging around with gods in the Thor comics as well, so the point of, "Well, I bet people aren't all up in arms because some Asian guy is playing a Norse god!" is out the window as well. But God help us if they made Peter Parker into some Indian guy (which they did in a Bollywood movie, by the way) or Batman as a black guy! The fury and rage of a million white (racist) nerds will be upon us, screaming about reverse racism!
    I detest how Hollywood loves Asian culture, our food, our traditions, our philosophies, our martial arts, our culture, but not the actual people? With TLA, Hollywood is telling us that Asians and Asian-Americans are only good as sidekicks, as ancillary background characters, as sexualized objects to be bedded (in the case of Asian women) or as stereotypical villains and faceless thugs (in the case of Asian men) that die in droves at the hands of the white lead – but they can NEVER be the focus as the main character or the hero(ine). Eff that BS!

  89. Reiter says:

    @ rigpa: No, it's the fault of racist Hollywood casting directors that they shut out any Asians or Asian-Americans from playing any of the main characters to begin with. Read the original casting calls again; they specifically call for CAUCASIAN, and then fine print "and other ethnicities to play as background characters" – it's not hard to see which racial group the casting directors were favoring from the get go. THIS is what we're protesting. THIS is what is so totally unfair about TLA. Why do people NOT understand this? Is this really so hard for people to grasp? JHC!

  90. Wonka says:

    I'm happy to say that i saw the movie and as much as i hate to come here and make racist comments,i just want to say that i saw a bunch of great people of different races and ages working hard and together to make a spectacular movie.Dont miss this movie ,dont wait for the DVD or a bootleg download,watch it on the big screen.It's as good as the trailer and even better.

  91. Morrisminor says:

    Like, who cares? This is a stupid kids movie, only a stupid kid would notice and complain

  92. Fred1 says:

    This is to all the Asian actors and movie fans boycotting the "Airbender" film.
    How about devoting all your energy and money to creating your OWN movie companies? Then you can create plenty of job opportunities for Asian actors, new and old.
    Look no further than the sleeper hit "Karate Kid." The cast for the film is racially diverse because of actor/producer Will Smith. The superstar realized long ago that producing your own films was more effective in opening doors for non-White actors than protesting deeply rooted Hollywood racism.
    As a bonus to doing good, you makes LOTS of money.

  93. Raj says:

    The sad part of all the attacks is that M. night . Had more Asians in this movie then I have seen in a long time with the promise that more would follow in the sequels.
    Do the protesterscreally think that the paramount execs had no say in the casting? Are they that naive? The studio execs care about the bottom line and since the Asians are the minority iy does not matter to them i'f they like it or not.
    If it takes a white face to put butts in seats and sell tickets they will do so. If Asians want to promote their agenda , they should do what the important folks Hollywood do . Make enough money by producing blockbusters and slip in your agenda to get a sympathetic hearing . Instead of ragging on the director, get sony pictures to promote Asian actors in movies or get the Chinese companies which make money selling goods in the us, invest in movies out here . At the end of the day it's about economics and money power. Denigrating m. Night is shooting yourselves in the foot folks . Shortsighted and unwise. Asians don't need the racist and religious bigots slamming a movie with Asian ideas, we are dumb enough to do it on our own

  94. yogaschmoga says:

    Dammit. I guess this means that only whites can play Hamlet from now on. I was really looking forward to seeing Denzel Washington in that role.

  95. James says:

    Hollywood's casting practices are reminiscent of the 1950's and create a glass ceiling for minority actors. The mainstream entertainment industry in America promotes White privilege at the expense of minority representation.
    In David Chappelle's show in the final review he claims he was "offended by" movies with ethnic titles starring white actors by saying "First they had The Mexican with Brad Pitt and now we have The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise?" He finishes by saying "Maybe they'll produce my film: The Last Nigga on Earth starring Tom Hanks."
    It's 2010, Hollywood! Get with the program!

  96. Amy says:

    I completely agree. I am not Asian, but this is an Asian story from beginning to end in the story line. Stop being so scared of offending people and tell an Asian story w/at at least mostly Asian cast.
    Night ruined the story trying so hard to make it his own and failing to in making charming or strong characters. Over acting. No humor. Only 20 seconds of good fight scenes.
    Peter Jackson could have done it so much better I think.

  97. A. says:

    This is interesting.
    You have all of these people claiming that "These characters look WHITE, and not Asian." Basically saying that "I don't see Asians as anymore than yellow-skinned, slanty-eyed and straight-black hair having people."
    Goes to show you how little that they know.
    1. Most Japanese are PALER THAN WHITE PEOPLE.
    2. A lot of Japanese naturally have larger eyes than white people.
    3. The different hair colors and different eye colors are to make the characters MORE DYNAMIC, rather than less Japanese.
    4. Most Japanese people do not have utterly bone-straight hair. It tends to curl near the ends.
    5. Actually, white people are shown in anime as having HUGE noses, squarer jaw-lines and thinner eyes than Japanese people.

  98. Dan says:

    Well, as Americans, they also have a right to speak their mind, no matter what goes on in their ancestral lands or members of their own community.
    Black, White, Brown, Tan-skinned people commit violence, not all of them do, So can't they also protest against violence? I get the feeling some people are just trying to find a bunch of excuses to dismiss their cause entirely.
    For the record, the movie was ok, not wow. Beyond race, it's kind of an issue when fans, non-fans, young and old, regular audiences and professional movie critics, almost 9 out of 10 people have a problem with The Last Airbender. I don't know if there is going to be a sequel though. Depends how well it will do overseas because if it's revenue breaks even or gets a little profit, it won't be enough for another movie.

  99. MikeP says:

    Racism, blah blah blah. It didn't seem to hurt the box office.

  100. Joel says:

    The protesters should protest against the original cartoon show as well. Apparently, the cartoon characters were voiced over by non-asians as well. The nerve of these people using non-asians to voice over cartoon characters that are obviously asians ;-)

  101. mh10 says:

    As an Asian person, I'm glad that M.Night didn't include Asians in this far-below-mediocrity movie. The association would be pure embarrassment.

  102. James says:

    For a movie based off Asian culture that tried to be politically correct with Asian pronunciations, costumes, and even its own Inuit extras and background from Greenland, the main characters do not reflect this agenda. Instead it reflects more of the same Hollwood trite status quo marketing schemes we've seen from the likes of "The Last of the Mohicans", "The Last Samurai", "The Mexican", "A Mighty Heart", upcoming "Cleopatra", and countless other films in Hollywood's historical repertoire. We get the point Hollywood, Whites are by default the best to portray any race and culture, then champion those inferior as their White messiah – nothing new, but the same bullshit that undermines equal opportunities.

  103. James says:

    The voice actor argument has been firmly rebuked and shouldn't ever be used to justify this atrocity. Bart Simpson is voiced by a woman. Apu from Simpsons is voiced by a White man and so is Cleveland Brown from Family Guy. Do you think they'll hire these folks if a live-action show were to be made about them? Voices do not compare to the standards of live physical representation and their meaning.

  104. nik patton says:

    i never new the characters where asian and this movie while disappointing is the only shot this series has at revival. if this movie series doesnt do well then you will never see any more media about the series and as a fan i wont to see new avatar episodes or seasons or avatar anything for that matter so true fans should just support the movie whether they like it or not

  105. Eric Schneider says:

    I think they should protest against the fact that the movie sucked and not that no East Asians were cast. If they had cast actors who could act, and they were Caucasian, fine, but they picked bad actors and he ruined the whole playful nature of the property.

  106. Phil says:

    Hollywood couldn't find Asian Americans to fill the roles of martial arts actors in a movie based on an Asian themed cartoon? Think about how ludicrous that sounds.

  107. Raj says:

    Making any movie is a risk. Hurting the movie financially by the boycott guarantees no director or movie studios will bother making a movie with an Asian thematic script without considering whether its worth this kind of aggravation,because of this type of I'll considered attack on a movie directed by a director who is more more likely to be sympathetic then anyone without an Asian background. Way to go race bender dudes! I'm sure that the 'conservative' elements in Hollywood will now care so much more and make changes! Another unwise and totally unstrategic bonehead move.
    Ever consider working with paramount an the director to get more Asians hired?
    Obviously not . Immature and shirt sighted, folks.

  108. Ang Li says:

    M.Night Uses Reverse Psychology
    The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael’s book, Sync My World: Thief’s Honor GA SK. (
    Air = Yellow “race” = Males = Scholars.
    Water = Small Browns = Females = Shamans.
    Earth = Blacks = Lesbian = Social Ubuntu Business Class.
    Fire = Whites = Gays = Military, Militant Business Class.
    Ether or Metal = Big Browns = Bisexuals = Working Class, Bi-military
    (females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males).
    Therefore Aang should be Chinese.
    Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.
    The Earth Kingdom should be African.
    Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.
    The Fire Nation’s army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.
    And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.
    This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.
    But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?
    Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.
    But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:
    1) Clearly, when people don’t play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. “male” clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)
    2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).
    3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fit the role of Lucifer or Satan.
    4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.
    Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it’s called sunyata or “emptiness.”

  109. carlos says:

    avatar the last airbender is not racess at all its not like there discrmanatiing people its retarded to protest i shell say

  110. Benito says:

    I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.
    I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of this law, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!
    As for the undocumented workers, as was attributed to Ronald Reagan “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. When the economy is good you say let’s all celebrate “Cinco de Mayo, my brothers” but when the economy is down “it’s all your fault, you damn immigrant”. This too will pass, the real problem is the narcos, arms and people smugglers and that’s what the focus should be on.
    Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

  111. Jeremy says:

    I don't understand why east asian and native american actors were not a big part in this movie?
    There are problems in asia just like there are problems in Europe, Africa, Middle East, the Americas, etc. and why would you stereotype asians being the most racist when other ethnicites have hurt their own people as well? Don't anger the asians, they're not afraid to fight back.

  112. James says:

    Most of the comments on here seem to be against asians. I don't understand why some people don't think asians are discriminated. No wonder asian americans can't get a big break in hollywood. Without much support from the american public, asian americans are not going to be equal with the majority of americans, and I just don't understand this. Even europe is said to be more fair then the U.S.

  113. Wild says:

    tibetans aren't asian?

  114. Teej says:

    Race is one issue, story is another. This movie's almost as disappointing as Book 3 of the animated series (they really needed a Book 4; 3 was too rushed, had too much crammed into it to make a proper story). If there is someone willing to take a risk on a sequel like the movie seems to hint at in the ending, I hope that the writers don't butcher the story… again. The writers of Angels and Demons redeemed the mess of the Da Vinci Code – please, guys, make an effort with Book 2.

  115. Deryl Wingate says:

    I am trying to put together another movie based entirely of the TV show in its entirety the movie may be 5-8 hours long but at least people will be able to see it with every single chapter, story and plot. All I need is actors that already had the costumes and I have camera lights, studio equipment and I am good with 3d special effects. I will follow the TV show frame by frame and create a something far greater than what anyone may think possible. Due to the fact that I am a fan of avatar and I will only do nothing but the best. If anyone out there is interested, I am located in Dallas TX and I am looking for anyone close by who can help, but I don’t have money to produce it. Most of my money has already gone towards equipment.

  116. damian says:

    to be honest my whole problem with the movie was the fact that the bending was slow and the ange was a gloomy and it was rated g not pg13….. the fire benders were indan to hispanic looking and all trought the earth nation all i saw were asians… so what if katara was feminized shel undoubtobly harden in the sequal i dont see a race problem… im a wet back bitherway

  117. Bart says:

    Where are you from? You just can't make an assumption that ALL Asians are the most racist.

    "They show Bhudhism as their culture however there are very few people in china who follow Bhudhism, they are killing Bhudhists in Tibet yet they show China as country where people follow Bhudhism and like everyone goes to Showlin. "

    Just because of this event doesn't mean that Asians are racist. So what about the Rwandan Genocide? Are you also saying that Africans are racist?

    But overall I think this protest is just plain stupid.

  118. Sammy says:

    The Asian community is rightfully upset at not getting lead roles, However as long as Asian producers and directors and actors remain so conservative and not step up then the problem will remain.
    I know of one film script that calls for an Asian lead, but sadly no Asian leaders in the industry will step up and take the risk and responsibility in networking it to production. With a chip on the shoulder they all feel like they should be paid EXTRA by the writer no less who took a chance and spent years creating a great story. Sadly the only ones interested are non Asians as they see the character as a real classic ALL AMERICAN, but the Asian actors, managers and producers fail to step up to the plate. So it is a problem but based on experience it seems the bamboo wall is only as real as the Asian community allows it to be. As for the white producers, until someone steps up and takes a stand on a script it will not change. The Asian community needs to take a lesson from the African American community as say to their AGENTS, WTF!

  119. Jorge says:

    I don't get why everyone is complaining about the fact that Asian actors in this movie are only put in background roles. Are you calling this movie, and the Director (M. Night Shyamalan) racist. Well to say that would be false because the Director is of Indian decent, as well as Dev Patel who played Zuko. Also wouldn't you find it odd if all characters in the movie were Asian, if that happened then people of Caucasian descent would get upset.

    The director of this movie has all the right to hire any actor and actress in his movie as he pleases regardless of race. If he were to only hire actors because of their race, then that would be a racist argument, right.

    Also to call all of the characters in the original tv series on nickeloden asian would be racist and incorrect as well. Katara and Sokka appear in the tv series with brown hair, tanned skin, and blue eyes, and they are from the South Water tribe, which concludes that they have Inuit descent. So it seems that the ones protesting against the movie's racism are fairly racist themselves

  120. lil i says:

    I love this movie!!!

  121. Joseph says:

    The people who made the series were white you idiot. Everything you said shows how idiotic you are about all of this.

  122. Liana says:

    For those of you who counteract that the people in the Avatar world aren't Asian, I'm guessing you didn't do your research. The Water Tribe was based off of the Inuit tribes. The Fire Nation had major Chinese and Japanese influences. The Earth Kingdom is similiar to the Ming and Qing dynasties in Asia with many other ethnic Asian groups (ex. Middle Eastern, Korean, etc.). The Air Nomads had Buddhist values and Tibetian-inspired monks. Heck, even Aang's teacher was named Gyatso (after Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama) and his son is also named Tenzin in Korra. Sure, the counries are fictional. But the creators based most of the universe off of Asian cultures. Hell, what's the writing? Calligraphy! Just because you're not Asian, does not mean you can place yourself on a pedestal and judge. These people are not just protesting about "a movie." They are protesting about cultural racism that exists not just in this crap M. Night produced, but in most movies! Just because a token Asian/black/Latino or Latina/etc. was cast in a lead role does not mean everything is okay. How come PoCs are so "sensitive" whenever a film like this comes out? They're experiencing this in their real lives.

  123. Russell says:

    I love the series I have been watching it with my 2 sons for years. We were so excited to see a film based on this Asian world of elements and benders. It turned out to be like renting a room at a local seedy motel. The wonderful Asian actors I had in my head all turned into Indians so the entire film lost it's identity. The writing was awful it either scraped over the same things or never became intricate enough to tell the story properly. This film was the biggest casting failure in history. The only way I can describe it is like buying a 1st class airline ticket for Tokyo or Hong Kong and being tossed out by parachute over Delhi.

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