M. Night Shyamalan had a sense about ‘Airbender’: ‘This would make a killer movie’

Jan. 28, 2010 | 1:19 a.m.

Rachel Abramowitz memorably wrote about M. Night Shyamalan in 2008 when he revealed quite a lot about the liberating power of, well, failure. Now she spoke with him again for this Hero Complex update on the filmmaker’s upcoming film “The Last Airbender.”

Airbender poster

And now for that otherAvatar” movie…

For M. Night Shyamalan, it was his then 7-year old daughter who hooked him on the Nickelodeon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

“She made us watch as a family and all four of us were hooked, “ Shyamalan said. “I was like, ‘This would make a killer movie.  And my wife who really has been kind of in neutral about my career was insane about it. Insane about it: ‘You have to do it. This is it. This is the one.’ ”

M Night Shyamalan by Jennifer S Altman

Ever since he shot to stardom with his film “The Sixth Sense” in 1999, Hollywood has tempted Shyamalan with franchise offers including, he says, an overture about directing the first “Harry Potter” film. He turned down all the other offers, but “Airbender,” with its fusion of Eastern philosophies and martial arts grabbed him. The series is set in a world where the four ancient elements — fire, earth, water and air — can be manipulated by a select group of magical humans who are known as “benders.”

The brutal firebenders, known as the Fire Nation, are intent on world domination and the only thing standing in their way is 12-year old Aang, the last of the airbenders, who also happens to be the Avatar — the only one who can wield all four of the elemental groups.

Not unlike a pre-teen, martial-arts version of the Dalai Lama, the fun-loving Aang is charged with keeping peace in the universe. Now comes Shyamalan’s big-screen adaptation “The Last Airbender” (no surprise, the film will drop “Avatar” from the title because of the success of a certain recent film with a smiliar title), the first of a planned trilogy.   

Airbender on Nick

The movie hits theaters on July 2 and stars Noah Ringer as Aang, Dev Patel (of “Slumdog Millionaire“) as the evil Prince Zuko. Nicola Peltz and Jackson Rathbone portray Aang’s trusty comrades-in-arms.

The 39-year old Shyamalan, once the boy wonder of Hollywood, is coming off a series of disappointing films, including “Lady in the Water” and “The Happening,” and this is the first time he’s directed a film based on pre-exististing source material. The filmmaker is taking on an adaptation for the first time because he found himself drawn to the Buddhist philosophy that underlies “Airbender.”

“Aang himself needs to find balance to be the Avatar and to master each of these elements,” the director said. “We get to see the process of someone mastering themselves through the three seasons to get to peace.” 

Shyamalan sees similar spiritual motiffs in “Star Wars” and “The Matrix.”

“In the first ‘Matrix,’ you realize that what you’re seeing is all false,” Shyamalan said. “Those are really ancient ideas. Basic old, old religion. This has that as well. So if you go on the journey and you’ll feel that epiphany on top of a great roller-coaster ride. It’s going to be something.“

— Rachel Abramowitz



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115 Responses to M. Night Shyamalan had a sense about ‘Airbender’: ‘This would make a killer movie’

  1. phil says:

    I have to agree with m.night.when i first watched this cartoon i really thought that this would work as a great film,or possibly franchise.Looking forward to the movie.

  2. nepotismsucks says:

    Can M. Night Shyamalan explain why NONE of the main characters are EAST ASIAN in a movie that is clearly about CHINESE MARTIAL ARTS with other EAST ASIAN CULTURES mixed in for kicks???????? and when he doesn't give the part to a WHITE person, he gives it to an INDIAN person. Nepotism much????
    By ignoring a perfectly good chance to introduce young east Asian actors into the American film market, M. Night Shyamalan pretty much ruins Avatar for me because he doesn't maintain the spirit of the cartoon which really celebrated Chinese martial arts in a way that wasn't stupid or a caricature of the culture and philosophies behind them.
    basically. you suck M. Night Shyamalan. and your name is a pain to type out repetitively.

  3. Fabrisse says:

    I am one of the many who is seriously disappointed that characters who are non-white have been cast with white actors. Only the villain is allowed to be played by a person of color.
    I expected better of Mr. Shyamalan.

  4. Awesome. I always look forward to his movies. Every since "The Sixth Sense," I've found him to be a very intelligent director with a lot of insight behind the stories he tells.

  5. Ori says:

    I wonder what Shyamalan's daughter would think seeing the Water Tribe character suddenly white-washed due to the Hollywood industry wanting to make it "palattable" for "American" tastes.
    The casting is terrible and racist.

  6. Polomoche says:

    Someone allowed Shyamalanfreude to make another film? Awesome!

  7. Chun Li says:

    Killer movie? … yea M. Knight killed it
    Eastern influences and Buddhist philosophies…sure, but what about the Asian culture the original cartoon series was based on? All of it will be missing from the movie, including Asians in lead character roles, what a waste of a great idea.
    Rachel, PLEASE look into this issue and help expose this obvious poor decision of a movie.

  8. Elizabeth L. says:

    Shyamalan has said before that he first noticed the series when his daughter wanted to be Katara for Halloween. Katara (and the rest of the cast of A:TLA, for that matter) are some of the very few Asian and American Indian heroes and main characters in an American series; I can't help but wonder if Shyamalan's daughter will still want to dress up as Katara now that she'll be whitewashed on the big screen.

  9. Jordan White says:

    You know, this is a very well written article and all but I'm surprised that the author took his/her time to put down all this information and yet not once did the huge issue of the casting controvesiy came up. I think that the controversy could have been mentioned in positive terms with the cheeky-fun way that the writer writes. Good article overall and I hope that the author just somehow did not know the the 800 pound Gorilla existed before writing this piece. =P

  10. Ax (that is my real says:

    i personally had high hopes for the movie, until i saw the cast… i am definately boycotting this movie, and so will many of my friends and family

  11. Ann Johnson says:

    Cannot wait for this to hit the theaters. Our whole family will be there!

  12. A Johnson says:

    Hadn't seen the previous posts. I would like to say that you have to have an issue and know how to discuss it. I personally don't think you have either but I would have to say I would not even consider listening to you as you are mean spirited about this issue. I would hope that since Night respects the show he will have the movie reflect that spirit.

  13. Jo says:

    For someone who seems to be going on and on about the Eastern and Asian influences of the show, Shyamalan's adaptation is severally lacking in East Asians.
    In fact, the only Asian in the main cast is the evil (though later anti-heroic) Prince Zuko. And the majority of the evil Fire Nation are being played by darker-skinned actors.
    The casting of this film ruined it for me. I love A: TLA, and I hate to see this adaptation make so many racist decisions. I know not all of this is Shyamalan's fault, but if he's putting his name all over the project, I guess he's okay with the now very pale Katara that his daughter can no longer look up to.

  14. mykalroze says:

    This is one pathetic, suck-up article that doesn't even mention the racist casting.
    The wording of the casting call information expressed a clear preference for white actors to play the leads.
    How could this so-called reporter/blogger toss such softball questions to Shyamalan?
    And then to equate this Last Airbender movie to the likes of Star Wars and the Matrix?
    How much money did Abramowitz get paid by Paramount to be a PR person for this movie?
    I bet if it were her ethnic group being shafted by Shyamalan and Paramount in this movie, she'd be singing a whole different tune.

  15. Jordan Budd says:

    It sure would be nice if the cast of the movie reflected the cast of the cartoon.
    This movie won't be getting my money until the racebending is fixed.

  16. Liz Williams says:

    I, too, thought Avatar: The Last Airbender would make a terrific movie or series of movies. I have a deep love for the original series and have recommended it to many of my friends. I found the Asian cultures and characters to be a refreshingly original take, and I really enjoyed exploring that Asian-based world with Aang, Katara, and Sokka.
    But I'm sorry to say that until this film shows serious efforts to correct the "whitewashing" of the cast, I'll be recommending that everyone I know give the movie a miss. Re-casting only the "bad guys" as Asian is not enough, and only serves to reinforce racist stereotypes. The Last Airbender casting is disappointing and terribly wrong. I hope the amount of outrage it continues to generate can help to effect some change.
    Until it does, I'll be boycotting this "Racebending" film.

  17. Marty says:

    As an Asian-Canadian fan of the original 'Avatar' series, I had high hopes for the film adaptation given the quality of the source material, but I absolutely cannot support this given the white-washed casting and urge others to do the same if they care about fighting discrimination. This isn't a matter of fans being uptight about a movie not matching small details, and it isn't 'just a movie' — this is job discrimination for actors who are ethnic minorities and sends the message, especially to minority children who rarely see themselves portrayed positively in Western media, that Asian and Inuit people cannot even play themselves in parts especially suited for them; yes, there are minorities cast in the film, but as villains, oppressed victims, and 'exotic' background colour — but the heroes, who are of the same fantasy races as they are, can only be played by white actors.
    There are so few roles for Asian and Inuit actors out there are are leading, non-stereotypical, and for a potential major blockbuster (in comparison to the number of roles out there for Caucasian actors, especially) that this also would have been a great opportunity for child actors of ethnic minority backgrounds to break out into Hollywood. And if you're going to argue that there are no actors out there who are both the right ethnicity and talented? Not only is that not true and assume the two traits are mutually exclusive, but even if it were true, then perhaps it's because they are denied roles like these and never get the chance even to enter the industry in the first place — it's a vicious cycle perpetuated by discrimination.

  18. stephbear says:

    i am severely disappointed in the casting for this movie. i don't understand how Mr. Shyamalan can be proud of the fact that he is completely insulting people of color with this whitewashed mess. i will not give one cent of my money to see this movie.
    "The Last Airbender" insults the original series. it is truly disgusting.

  19. nemogbr says:

    Every interview, I've read about this upcoming film, never mentions the controversy regarding the casting of the four original white actors in favour of any non-whites.
    Katara and Sokka should have been Native Americans. They managed to find a few for "Twilight". A Hispanic would have done well and just needed contact lenses for the blue eyes.
    Zuko and Aang should have been East Asians. There are a number in Hollywood. There was that kid in Tropic Thunder.
    Then they made it worse by casting a South Asian for the enemy role.
    Now it's three white ninja kids running away from the brown people who look like Middle-Easterners.
    I'm just sorry for his daughter who might not want to dress up as a Katara, now that they decided to make her more like Barbie.

  20. Sarah Neville says:

    I feel the same as @phil, this series has always had awesome potential for a live-action adaption. I was sorely disappointed when Paramount decided to cast the heroes of his East Asian-style world as Caucasians, though. Like the article said, Aang is like a 12-year-old Dalai Lama, and if you watch the show, his "nation's" clothes, culture, architecture, and religious beliefs are very Tibetan…it's a shame they decided to make him white. Not to mention Aang's friends from a distinctly Inuit-like tribe.
    The result of all this? 4 nations: the white "Dalai Lama" airbender Chosen One, the white "Eskimo" sidekicks, the East Asian oppressed or corrupt Earth Kingdom, and the South Asian evil Fire empire. Good guys white, bad guys/extras Asian…

  21. czarnian says:

    I pity those who pretend they wont see the film, based on the story they claim to love, just because of the race of the actors. Yeah, it would have been nice to have a more racially diverse cast, but the important thing is if they can carry the roles.
    I would be a lot more worried about Night's abilities to make the film work.
    He has a very uneven string of films behind him. He had better stick to the story and not add any of his juvenile creepiness or goofy twists. If he messes up this one too, it is not only his immediate family that will be very very mad.

  22. amber says:

    Well. I feel this movie is an insult to the tv series. Partly beacause,Avatar was a show about DIVERSITY.if you watched it you would know that there were different coloured people in each nation.not just one "EVIL" nation of colour.making the whole protagonist cast white and the antagonist nation coloured is just plain racist.
    this is a slap in the face to all avatar fans too.many of us spent numerous hours watching avatar again and again because we fell in love with the series.it had a certain charm about it that made us love it.eg teh storyline,the diversity of the nations,the tensions in the characters.this movie is just….not good.
    its all hollywoodised and whitewashed. distasteful.

  23. Mariama says:

    It's sad that the Asian influences of the show have been warped. This could have been a great way to let Asians get great, positive roles, but, apparently, Hollywood, a$ alway$, ha$ a different agenda.

  24. Okay… let's put it this way. Can these people seriously stand there and tell me that if a King of the Hill movie was made into a live-action movie… and Hank Hill was played by a brown, dark, or even black actor… No one would find it out of place? What about SUPERMAN?
    It has nothing to do with affirmative action… it's the principle of the matter. Why not stick true to the characters? Why take such a leap? It starts to feel disrespectful at some point. The reason the two were left out of the trailers is because kids will know that Sokka and Katara are not pale… but warm-colored, like the earth – which only attributes to their capacity to control the elements.

  25. David S. says:

    I'm going to be boycotting this movie. As the above article states, the whole story of Avatar revolves around Buddhism, Eastern Martial Arts, and East Asian themes in general. To have Caucasians play the main role, then insert a South Asian to try to appease the audience just doesn't cut it for me. I'm tired of Hollywood's blatant racism and refusal to admit to it.
    As a children's movie, Avatar would be perfectly fine with Asians in the lead role. Who knows? Maybe it will even influence them into believing that you don't need to be white to be a hero.

  26. Margot says:

    I'd be so into seeing this movie if they had stayed true to the ethnicity of the real cast. Now, after hearing about the casting practices for this movie, I have no desire to spend my ten dollars supporting this kind of backwards old school racism. They had a chance to do some serious good here and move the American views on race in a good direction while making a total bad ass movie. Every kid needs a hero to look up to. Even the non white ones. Instead they squandered this great opportunity. Way to support fellow people of color Mr Shyamalan.

  27. It doesn't matter how "killer" M. Night Shyamalan thinks the movie will be. All these Eastern philosophies and martial arts and old, Buddhist beliefs that got him hooked still couldn't get him, the casting directors, or Paramount to cast any ACTUAL ASIAN actors.
    The enemy is being played by the only legit Asian person in the ENTIRE film. That's racism.
    I'm pretty sure if you looked hard enough, you would've found ACTUAL Asian actors and actresses who know martial arts and have acting talent.
    My friends, family, and I definitely will NOT be seeing this film.

  28. bobo121 says:

    the director doesn't do the casting, a casting director does, and the producers have more say over it than the director does typically. Shyamalan is good director, even if his writing has been subpar since signs.

  29. I find it interesting that, despite Avatar: The Last Airbender having been created using the very diverse cultures of Asia from Inuits to Japanese to Indian and many cultures inbetween, that Paramount chose to whitewash the heroes including two VERY brown siblings) and make the pale villains brown. I wonder what Shyamalan's daughter thought when she saw Peltz was chosen to play Katara instead of someone who shared her skin tone.

  30. Rose says:

    Indeed, it is a good idea for a movie franchise, the series was epic-what with the asian culture really shining through the tv series. I am very sad to see that M Night Shyamalan has decided to forget about all the asian influences, and the fact that all the characters are depicted as asian or inuit.
    Wish i could support this movie, but its just wrong to change the race of every character.

  31. Makena says:

    I loved this tv series so much! Watched it from the very beginning! I was so excited at the prospect of it becoming a movie, because like this article said-it looked like it would make a killer movie'. Unfortunately, i will not be watching this movie because of the race issues. I just don't think it is right to 'forget' about a characters race, especially when it is such a big deal in the tv series and settings.

  32. Erikonil says:

    As a huge Avatar fan, I was ecstatic when I heard about a live action adaption. When the casting was announced however; I was hugely disappointed. To take a series that everyone knows is based off Asian culture and philosophy (not to mention having a cast of non white characters, not all Asians are dark skinned and narrow eyed people) and casting the entire group of heroes with white actors (Zuko ain't a hero in the first book) just smacked of a deep institutional racism that runs deep in Hollywood casting. On top of that, you have the villains, the "brutal firebenders" cast with people of Middle Eastern decent and having to be defeated by the good white people.
    As a white person, I find this highly offensive. I find it offensive that the director and studio don't think I can relate to anyone with a skin tone darker then mine. I find it horrid that they took what could have been a fantastic (and sadly all too rare) chance for Asian American actors to get their foot in the door. If they wanted to make the world "more diverse," why did they still have to cast the entire heroic lead cast as white? There are plenty of talented young actors of colour who could have done this film and those who say that they only cast for the best actor are putting up a straw man and they know it.
    The changes that M Night has put this story through distort it and get further away from Avatar and are just making it into a standard white washed white savior film. I don't know what film I'll be seeing when it comes out, but it won't be this one.

  33. We'll set aside the staggering incompetence of the 'journalism' at work here. It is an appalling state of affairs when greed is allowed to dictate art. I'm sickened that this has been allowed by the director, the producers and most especially, the Avatar creators who can turn a blind eye to the fundamental destruction of their intellectual property.
    Now, I'm not naive and no one has ever driven a dump-truck full of money up to my house and asked to buy my integrity. I am certain however, that no amount of money can remove that crushing feeling in your soul Mr Shyamalan, when your children look at this film and wonder why they look like the bad guys. This is sad more than anything as a glorious oportunity to show children of ALL color that they can be a hero too. Too bad your kids won't be able to look at you that way when they grow up to see what money does to a person.
    I'll leave you with a choice quote from another 'Avatar' directed at you Mr Shyamalan – 'How does it feel to betray your own race?'

  34. Trent says:

    I dearly love this series, and I desperately want it brought to life, but I don't know if I can get over the despicable casting process. Why are people who are clearly Asian characters not Asian? They are basically being portrayed in "yellow face"!

  35. Kathryn C. says:

    I am another one of the many people who are seriously disappointed that characters who are non-white have been cast with white actors. Only the villain is allowed to be played by a person of color.
    I expected better of Mr. Shyamalan and the people working with him.

  36. Jan says:

    There appears to be a well-organized opposition to this movie. These people have not only decided that the movie will fail, but actively hope it will fail… and I find that outrageous. Even though none of them have seen this movie and really haven't a clue how Shayamalan will deal with race inside his fantasy world, they are nonetheless sure he is a racist and find something to hate in everything they do hear about.
    Myself, I don't let haters make me hate, even as many of these folks have decided to fight what they think is racism, by acting like racists themselves. I hope Mr. Shayamalan makes us an exciting and sensitive film about a group of young heros devoted to fighting hate. We'll see.

  37. jedifreac says:

    M. Night has some nerve to talk about the different Asian influences in the series despite the way the casting of his film marginalized people of color. Actors of color face a glass ceiling in Hollywood–this film exemplifies that discriminatory barrier.
    Calling the widespread protest against this movie "hate" is such a simplification. Protesting the film's handling of cultural sensitivity does not equal hate. Fans did not have to see the film to understand that characters ethnicities were changed, further reinforcing systemic discrimination in Hollywood.

  38. Tsumami says:

    As a Japanese-American, I am VERY disappointed to read this article, and find that the whole issue of seeing the white-washed casting problems of the Last Airbender characters, in particular Sokka and Katara, are just slipped under the rug to be buried and not see the light of day. Even though a lot of people are aware of this!
    This would have been a 'killer movie,' not only had they respected the source material, but if they casted ACTUAL Asians and Inuits for the main roles of the heroes/heroines and not with the default Caucasian in Hollywood's favoritism. American minorities have a hard time trying to break into the industry as actors and actresses as it is, and being only villains and village extras in movies like this does NOT help at all.

  39. Kenny says:

    I'm another fan of the show who's extremely disappointed by the exclusion of East Asian actors from significant roles. Apparently the filmmakers think East Asian philosophies, names, and martial arts are great but Asian people are not. Whenever a story is set in a fantasy world based on Medieval England or Europe the cast turns out overwhelmingly white and Asian actors are left out. Yet when the rare Asian-inspired world like Avatar comes along, white actors are still favored over Asian ones for the best roles. Even Dev Patel was not their first choice for the role of Zuko. They originally cast Jesse McCartney, only bringing in Dev as a replacment after facing criticism for whitewashing all the lead roles. I will not be watching this movie.

  40. My sons made me a huge fan of the original animated series.
    Kids of color as the heroes
    was a refreshing departure from a predominantly white media.
    I can't wait to see the actor and actress that represent Sokka and Katara.
    You don't see too many heroes based on Inuit cultures.

  41. Rachel R says:

    If Aang is a "martial arts version of the Dalai Lama," and the show and movie contain Buddhist philosophy, can anyone explain why he's white and not Asian? Does Shyamalan seem to think that a white actor will appeal to American audiences more than an Asian actor? If so, Hollywood is in a pretty sad state.
    And in the promotional art from the cartoon series included in this article, Katara and Sokka don't look white either. In fact, with a little research, you can find out that the Water Tribe culture from Avatar was influenced by Inuit and Native American cultures.
    In my opinion, this film really highlights how Hollywood loves to use East Asian culture but fails to hire Asian actors for a feature film. This is greatly disappointing.

  42. Vina says:

    I don't think Shyamalan is racist at all, but I do think he's let himself be compromised by the interests of others who obviously don't understand this material. I mean, it's all well and good to want to widen the appeal of this franchise and include actors of other ethnicities, but to bar East-Asians from all the major roles and then consign all the dark-skinned actors to villain roles is just dumbfounding. What are we supposed to think? What are we supposed to tell our kids? The fact that the original show was so good about these cultural sensitivities just makes it worse.

  43. MRCAB says:

    More Hollywood whitewashing. There is no way M. Night could not have known what he was doing. Shame on you Shyamalan! Shame on you!

  44. Curious says:

    I agree with those who have stated that Shyamalan dropped the ball with his casting. Hollywood has been historically unkind to Asian actors and actresses and this could have been a great opportunity. I do tend to wonder, however, if the same fury will be directed at the casting of an African-American to play a Norse god in the upcoming "Thor" film. Sometimes filmmakers just drop the ball. Lets just hope its a little more enjoyable than "Lady in the Water."

  45. Fabrisse says:

    Jan said:Even though none of them have seen this movie and really haven't a clue how Shayamalan will deal with race inside his fantasy world…
    That's the point; it's NOT Shyamalan's fantasy world. He's taken someone else's story, one beloved by millions of fans, and allowed it to be cast in such a way that it is no longer the same.

  46. Kateryn says:

    I am glad that the author of this article noticed the deep Asian influence of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the marked parallels between its protagonist Aang, and the real life (and Asian) Dalai Lama. It is sad to see that these obvious connections are lost on M. Night Shyamalan who has made pitiful casting choices that belie these influences.
    Incredibly disappointed. If I was his daughter, I would be disappointed too, now that the character she wanted to dress up as doesn't look a thing like her anymore.

  47. Kou says:

    Likes Asian culture but apparently not Asian people.

  48. DPinay4M says:

    I think Rachel Ambrowitz deserves credit for putting together a solid interview. A lot of us are really passionate about the issue of the casting but it's ridiculous to expect every journalist to feel the way we do, or even be aware of how big the controversy is.
    This is a good article and a good read. It may not have been the best article to address the casting, but I hope that this issue gets addressed in a future article.

  49. adellasghost says:

    I wonder what M. Night will say when his daughter asks why Katara isn't brown anymore.
    I don't care what people say about "as long as the actor carries the character"–there is a principle in staying true to a character that was created to look and act a certain way. Morgan Freeman is an amazing, award-winning actor, but that doesn't mean he should play Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter movie.
    There are many talented non-white actors who never get the chance to be heroic or inspiring because Hollywood doesn't think they'll make as much money.
    It is disgusting that M. Night, as a parent, is perpetuating the belief that "It's okay to be non-white…you're just not as valuable."

  50. Pinoyrocks says:

    Shyamalan is just the director not the producer. He can not decide who gets to be the cast unless he is as big as Burton or Spielberg who happens to be producers as well.The perfect example of miscasting is kristin Kreuk playing Chun-li,a Chinese fighter.

  51. stephbear says:

    @ Jan
    I believe that you are missing the point of our anger. I implore you to go to racebending.com and learn about the issue, and why many of us are upset.

  52. M says:

    Good Lord people! Enough complaining about the race issue! Get over it already! It's going to happen whether you boycott,complain, flame pages or not.I'm asian and frankly don't care any more. I'm looking forward to this movie and will support it.

  53. Ann Johnson says:

    The main character looks just like the character on the cartoon and supposedly acts just like him as well. The whole cast is suppose to be exceedingly diverse and yet you go on and on about racist.
    I do believe you will look bad when it is all said and done,mainly because you are being so very ugly about it. It does not bring anyone to your side – just the opposite. You could make you point without being ugly – just in case no one ever told you that before.

  54. jedifreac says:

    @ M: Sorry, not everyone is willing to accept discrimination, or enjoy movies from a studio with a reputation of culturally insensitive actions. People have the right to be angry, disagree with you, and to not support this movie or the discrimination it represents.
    Paramount is also the studio behind "The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard," "The Love Guru," and "Transformers II"– all three recent films offended audiences(particularly East Asian American, South Asian, and African American communities.) The decisions made for "The Last Airbender" are a part of the Paramount's company values and culture.

  55. marianna says:

    @ M
    you are asian? then i am going to assume that you work in a chinese restaurant and cannot pronounce your 'L's correctly, because that is how you are being portrayed. don't you understand? the studio is basically saying that white people are better than you. that your race isn't worthy enough to be shown as heroes in a movie.
    please reconsider your stance on this film.
    @ Ann Johnson
    please do not take offense to this, but your comment was soaked with white privilege, which is a very real concept, so don't think i am making it up for the sole purpose of attacking you. you chose to ignore the issue and pretend it doesn't exist, because you think the subject is 'ugly'. you are not accepting the fact that people are being discriminated against because it means stepping outside of your frame of reference. please do more research on the topic. read each comment carefully to understand the concerns of real people living in the same country as you. there is an easy to navigate website that can tell you everything you need to know.
    do not just read this as a personal attack. i'm trying to help you open your eyes.

  56. Edward Hong says:

    The overwhelming opinions of people who are opposed to the whitewashed casting choices made by Paramount for this movie is absolutely beautiful. I was looking forward to the movie adaptation when it was first announced as it could've been a truly definitive Asian American blockbuster that incorporated East, South, and Southeast Asian actors all in one movie. But I hoped for too much and the casting choices for the lead roles that primarily called for "Caucasian actors" was extremely disappointing.
    I have made my personal choice and will boycott this movie. It is tiring to see another film that could've taken advantage of many talented actors who are people of color but instead Hollywood decide to play it "safe".

  57. min says:

    "Not unlike a pre-teen, martial-arts version of the Dalai Lama, the fun-loving Aang is charged with keeping peace in the universe."
    except he's played by a white kid…

  58. sophie-kaijuu says:

    It's really sad how M. Night's own daughter loved the character of Katara, and dressed up like her for Halloween even. But in his adaptation, his daughter won't be seeing a character that looks like her – she'll be seeing a white-skinned Katara.
    I'm not seeing this movie. It would have made a good movie if done correctly (though still a bit premature) but with the comments from the casting director and actors, the way they did the casting, and Paramount's refusal to acknowledge any whitewashing, there's no way the result will be satisfactory.
    I'm recoiling in advance at the white eskimos. Sigh.

  59. When they announced the release of The Last Airbender,
    the producers who got involved believed that the
    Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise was
    "the next Harry Potter".
    After watching the original series (several times) with my children
    and immersing ourselves in the beautiful, diverse Asian/Inuit universe,
    I really believed that this franchise
    could have been just as good (if not better) as
    the Harry Potter and Star Wars franchises.
    The creators, Mike and Bryan, who put their blood and sweat into
    creating this universe, took a huge risk,
    creating heroes of color.
    And an even riskier choice of writing in
    the mature theme of GENOCIDE.
    I am grateful for these risks because it open up a discussion with my kids
    about what happened to Tibet and the Native Americans.
    We were so excited when we found out Shyamalan was the director of the live action adaptation.
    Whether you are a Shyamalan fan or not,
    you have to admit that he directs child actors well.
    So, we had faith that Shyamalan would give
    Asian-Americans and Native-Americans child actors/actresses
    the opportunity to be as big as the unknown cast of
    the Harry Potter live action adaptation
    (putting their feet in between Hollywood doors that would never open for them).
    After the Lady In The Water controversy with Shyamalan and the Disney execs,
    I really believed that Shyamalan was the perfect director
    to take the risk of casting children of color
    to represent the heroes/heroines of The Last Airbender.
    I thought wrong.
    As a fan, an artist, a teacher, and a parent,
    I will not be supporting The Last Airbender.
    My family will NOT pay for the movie, the dvds, the toys, or any products that sponsor this movie.
    And we will do everything we can to convince others to do the same.

  60. Sharkman says:

    I realize that Shyamalan may have had no say in the casting, and I don’t know if he approves of the current casting in it’s entirety, but I find it dubious that this article makes no mention of it whatsoever, especially since the new CEO of Paramount acknowledged Shyamalan’s awareness of the casting controversy when it was presented to him by the MANAA.
    I honestly wish I could have given M. Night’s movie the benefit of the doubt, but either though his, or his production company’s, actions, the movie will be stripped of many of the East Asian and Inuit features that made it unique, including the loss of East Asians and Inuits to actually play the leads, the loss of Sifu Kisu as the martial arts advisor (with Ben Cooke, the fight coordinator for Indiana Jones 4, of all things, in his place) and the loss of Dr. S.L. Lee and the Chinese calligraphy he provided the original show, replaced by a gibberish, fake, language.
    They can’t pretend this is somehow a re-imagining or re-interpretation of the races and cultures that were used in the show. There are pictures of Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz surrounded by Inuit extras living in Greenland, but the studio still decided to cast White actors thus far for the only three Southern Water Tribe characters to even have names.
    They cast of Noah Ringer as Aang over Asian boys who have more acting or martial arts experience, including Brandon Soo Hoo off Tropic Thunder (A movie that one of this movie’s casting directors, Dee Dee Rickets was involved in, so they can’t say they didn’t know who he was) or oddly enough, Issac Jin Solstein, who has been relegated to the role of “Earthbending Boy” a role so important, it doesn’t even warrant a name.
    They cast Dev Patel after their original choice, Jessie McCartney, was suddenly unable to fill the role, then brought in Asaif Mandvi, Shaun Toub, and Cliff Curtis to play Zhao, Iroh, and Ozai respectively. All the while, they were using these second choice actors as a sign of their diversity, as if it was part of their plan all along, to try and counteract growing criticism from media watchdog organizations.
    We’re somehow supposed to accept that to play a team of multinational heroes, three white actors juxtaposed into an East Asian and Inuit fantasy world were the best choice? In this day and age?
    No, I won’t be seeing this film. Honestly, I do hope that whatever policy that prevents these articles from mentioning the most prominent bit of news regarding this movie changes soon.

  61. Jo says:

    @ Ann Johnson:
    See, the thing was, the show itself WAS diverse. It was full of a variety of Asian cultures, "pan-Asian", if you will. But apparently that's not good enough for Hollywood, hm? No, let's have the heroes be white, the villains South Asian/Middle Eastern, and the extras be East Asian and Inuit.
    And Aang always looked Asian to me. Maybe not to some, but when I see a black haired, grey eyed kid who's name is Aang, who writes in Hanzi, practices something based on Ba-Gua, and is apparently just like the "Dalai Lama", I think of him as Asian. The casting calls specifically said Caucasian first, other races second.

  62. celestialc says:

    Sharkman pretty much covered it point to point, but I feel the need and motivation of commenting myself to reinforce the level of outrage and offense over this whole ordeal.
    I was beyond excited when Paramount announced a live action adaption of the film, but when the first casting reports were released, I honestly thought it was an Internet joke. When it wasn't, some little part of me just died.
    I am not protesting because I think white people can't exist in an Asian and Inuit-based fantasy. I am not protesting because I want white people excluded in media. I am not protesting because I am a fan that can't handle any departures that a live action film makes from the original version.
    I am protesting because I am tired of seeing non-white characters constantly being regulated to background characters, supporting roles, and racial/social stereotypes that interfere with their ability to be protagonists, leaders, and positive heroic images. I am tired of the whitewashing of characters, real or fictional, from book covers to big screen adaptions because making money and what that means is more important to people than fighting and questioning the social and political attitudes we take towards race.
    Asian Americans are a minority in this country, but let's be frank: 14,940,775 people (wikipedia) is not a minor number. I think those 14,940,775 people matter. I think they should have opportunities to be seen and respectfully represented in media. I think they should have opportunities leading heroic roles that won't be taken away from them because someone feels the need to up the white diversity factor in a movie, or because minorities generally don't sell.
    The Last Airbender was an opportunity to do so many positive things in the way of racial and cultural perceptions in this nation. It was an opportunity for Asian-Americans to have the spotlight as leading heroes. It was an opportunity to portray Asian and Inuit cultures with dignity, respect, and level of accuracy for which the cartoon was so praised. It was an opportunity to tell minorities and their children "Hey, this time, it's about YOU, and in a GOOD way."
    Instead this movie from the get-go is doing the opposite.
    That's why I'm protesting.

  63. Desaree M says:

    The Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, was a joy to watch. For years my family and I grew to adore the characters: Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko-and we appreciated the fact that they were inspired from Inuit and Asian cultures.
    M. Night Shyamalan's live-action adaptation, The Last Airbender, casting calls from Paramount studios specified Caucasian before any other ethnicity for the four lead roles-smashing the possibility of actual Inuit or Asian actors being cast.
    The film crew traveled to Greenland to film where over 80% of the population is Inuit. Boasting Caucasian actors dressed-up as Inuit heroes while actual Inuit actors are overlooked and Inuit children are used as extras. Disgraceful.
    The picture you displayed of the three characters is a nice one because it clearly shows the darker skin tone of Katara and Sokka. To bad the movie poster doesn't clearly show Noah Ringer-full frontal- to compare with Aang, whose character is based on Asian culture and therefore should have been cast with an Asian actor.
    Perhaps your article could have included a hint of the casting controversy by posting a side by side comparison picture of the actors cast. Hopefully there will be a follow-up article that does so everyone can see exactly why I and people from 49 other countries around the world are going to BOYCOTT The Last Airbender and ALL related merchandise.

  64. sklyar says:

    I am disappointed in how this movie production has become. I enjoyed the cartoon series but with the whitewashed of the casts I don't think that I will be watching this movie in theatre.

  65. Alice says:

    For a show that the creators took so much effort and devotion to respectfully portray Eastern cultures, M. Night's movie adaptation has conveniently taken the cultural trappings and forgotten the people who lived and inspired the ideas behind Avatar, the Last Airbender cartoon.
    The white-washing of the characters to be played by the cast actors can be rather subtle unless you look for it. However, note that the entire main cast (Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko) was once all white (with Zuko to be played by Jesse Mccartney) until Paramount, perhaps trying to appease nay-sayers, decided to give us a token Person of Color by casting Dev Patel. The end result is a dark-skinned antagonist, very conveniently color-coded for audiences everywhere, who learns to see the error of his and his country's way and goes against his dark-skinned kinsmen to follow the white protagonist who just wants save the world.
    If the casting weren't so insulting and blatantly racist, it would be laughable to see the darkest characters, Sokka and Katara, being portrayed by such pale actors who will need to "get a tan and hope that the audience will suspend our disbelief." Perhaps a bit of makeup will help give said actors a darker complexion and will also aid in this suspension of disbelief–except that would make it blackface or in this case, yellowface and one would have hoped that Hollywood had finally moved beyond such degrading practices. Seems like this horrible trend is still alive and well in this upcoming film.
    And of course, I'll be boycotting it.

  66. Phil says:

    This movie is going to sink because of all the controversy.
    How many times must we just accept white guys being cast as Asians?
    21 was about MIT students beating Vegas at blackjack. The real characters were transformed from Asian Americans to white.
    Harrison Ford's new film Extraordinary Measures was based on a true story. Guess what ethnic background the real life scientist was?
    The Last Samurai was a white guy? Give me a break.
    The Last Avatar is going to have protests and I'm going to be there.

  67. Devon says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with David's post. Did Paramount miss an opportunity by casting mostly white leads? Yes. But I never believed that race was an overwhelming theme of the show. In the animated series, Book 1 portrays the other nations as good and the Fire Nation as evil both to viewers directly and in the minds of the main characters. In Books 2 and 3, the lines between the two begin to blur and we begin to question this narrow-minded view. In the end, the theme is that we are all one people and should all work together to achieve peace. It's not going to be "the white heroes defeating the dark villians," but rather all nations seeing themselves as one people and working together for a better future for everyone. I believe that this is an extremely positive message for kids and adults alike; and I feel that if people avoid this movie simply because of some casting choices they don't really understand the spirit of the show.

  68. David Markarnian says:

    I am appalled at the amount of hate this film is getting. Granted, I have reservations on the casting but once I saw the hypocrisy, the blatant hate, and the closed mindedness of the “anti casters”, well, that turned me off.
    Some of the major complaints:
    “The movie isn’t diverse.”
    Well, as I look at the casting list on IMDb, I see Europeans, Indians, East Asians, a Maori, a Persian, and pretty much everyone but African. How is this not diverse?! Maybe Europeans don’t fit into their version of “diversity.”
    “They ‘white washed’ everything.”
    Also, as I look at the cast, there are three (four counting Gran-Gran) white actors. The rest, simply put, aren’t. And don’t bring up the Jesse McCartney thing. He never got cast. He was gone before they even started production. It’s not even an argument anymore.
    “How would M. Night’s daughter feel when she won’t look like the character she dressed up as for Halloween?”
    Do any of us actually look like the people we dressed up for Halloween? I’m sure there were plenty of European children who dressed up like Katara, Sokka, and Aang. Not to mention the countless cos-players out there. I didn’t get the memo when race was a requirement for a Halloween costume.
    “Would you cast MLK (or insert any other famous, real person of color) as a white guy?”
    No. But the characters are not real, nor are they based on real people. Nor were they established as such. Though, I’ll agree on Katara and Sokka, but Aang looks, arguably, European.
    “The show resolves around Buddhism, Hinduism, and martial arts.”
    So Europeans can’t practice such religions and customs? Are these people that closed minded?! I guess by their logic, no one but white people can be Christians, Catholics, or participate in democracy for that is all either popularized by Europeans or created by them. But, no, that would be racist.
    “The show’s message was about minorities being the heroes.”
    They clearly missed the message. I was under the impression it was about diversity, acceptance of all cultures and beliefs, and, above all, peace over violence. I guess they did miss it because all these “anti-casters” rarely adhere to those themes and messages. They have an open mind, but only if you agree with them.
    “Asians are rarely given a fair chance.”
    Granted, but remember majority rules. By last count, European Americans represented the overwhelming majority in this country. So, thus, our films would represent it. Now, am I against anything not “white”? Nope. I’ve enjoyed several films with minorities in the leads. And should I be mad at the lack of whites in Hong Kong cinema, Bollywood, or any other foreign films? Judging by their logic, I guess I should be.
    The bottom line here is that most of their hate is unwarranted. Yes, they have some valid points, but they have a very Sith-like mentality with their closed minded, absolutist, overly pessimistic ways of going about it and that just turns more people off than anything.

  69. sandra aolany says:

    hola me encanta este director lo admiro mucho cuando sea directora de cines yo kiero ser como el
    viva M. Night Shyamalan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! tkm… bye

  70. Marissa says:

    I'd buy the "we are all one people working together for one future" message–it certainly was a central theme to the animated series–if the film didn't promulgate a glass ceiling. The best, most positive roles were yet again reserved for actors who are white, to the point where characters of color were changed to accomodate them. Diversity is more than just the right for people of color to play villains or set dressing.
    When rare heroes of color are changed to be white it sends a very discouraging message to children. Children of color are told that people like them cannot be heroes; children who are white do not see children who look different as heroes. Are people of color, who make up so much of our country, never to be given a chance to play lead heroic characters? "Majority rules," indeed.
    It's easy to label criticism of the casting as "hate" but it is appropriate to protest discrimination when we see it.

  71. Cash Bailey says:

    He certainly seems genuinely passionate about this.
    I love this show so much and I'd hate to see it turned into a crummy movie. But Shyamalan is a very talented film-maker, so if he can re-connect with his muse for this I think it could be something special.

  72. Bip says:

    I am sick and tired of Hollywood's white washing. This cast is a disgrace and I will not see this movie.

  73. marianna says:

    @ David Markarnian
    pre-written responses to your points can be found in the links below. unfortunately, ignorance is quite predictable.

  74. @David Markarnian
    This protest has NEVER EVER been about “hate”.
    Yes, “hate” has been expressed but it doesn’t REPRESENT the racebending movement.
    “Hate” representing the racebending movement
    is like a Caucasian representing an Asian character.
    You need to ignore the trolls who make the movement look bad.
    I personally don’t represent the racebending movement,
    but, I definitely support it.
    “How is this not diverse?!”
    Air Nomads (victims of genocide) = Caucasian
    Water Tribe (victims of genocide) = Caucasian
    Earth Kingdom (run by a corrupt government) = “any other ethnicities”
    Fire Nation (evil villains) = Middle Eastern
    “there are three (four counting Gran-Gran) white actors.”
    Don’t forget Avatar Roku will be a white actor.
    Have you seen the original series?
    Katara, Sokka, and Aang are the first characters introduced.
    Katara is the strong, mature, mother of the group of HEROES.
    Sokka is the leader of the group of HEROES
    Aang is the HERO who saves the world!
    “I didn’t get the memo when race was a requirement for a Halloween costume.”
    Its not a requirement.
    But, to the children of color its just as important as the character’s gender.
    I am positive that M.Night’s daughter felt empowerment dressing as a strong female hero,
    The character’s skin color matching her own was a cherry on top of that empowerment sundae.
    “Nor were they established as such.
    Though, I’ll agree on Katara and Sokka, but Aang looks, arguably, European.”
    In the commentary of the show’s pilot episode,
    one of the creators established that Katara was designed from “Authentic Inuit” features.
    Many believe that Aang looks like a Tibetan/Shaolin Monk.
    Did they not use the right shade of yellow? Or was his eyes not slanted enough for you?
    Sorry, there are a large group that don’t have the privilege of being colorblind.
    “So Europeans can’t practice such religions and customs?”
    In REAL LIFE, of course, they can!
    But, in HOLLYWOOD, let Asian/Inuit people REPRESENT characters, who practice such religions and customs.
    “I was under the impression it was about diversity, acceptance of all cultures and beliefs, and, above all, peace over violence”
    What would your impression be you watch a movie with
    Caucasian heroes fighting against villains who will be perceived as Middle Eastern?
    “but remember majority rules.”
    Are you implying that White America rules?
    So, you believe that European Americans should represent characters of color
    ignoring the 14 million Asian Americans and 3 million Native Americans?
    You really believe thats FAIR?
    Now, who is the one “hating” here?
    You need to look past the “hate” you are reading into,
    this is about FAIR REPRESENTATION.
    Bruce Lee and Mako Iwamatsu fought for this throughout their acting career.
    Fantasies based on European mythology/folklore like Lord Of The Rings
    have Caucasians REPRESENTING the people of that universe.
    Why can’t fantasies based on Asian mythology/folklore like Avatar: The Last Airbender
    have Asians REPRESENTING the people of that universe?

  75. David Markarnian says:

    “Air Nomads (victims of genocide) = Caucasian”
    1 Air Nomad. We don’t know what the others look like yet.
    “Water Tribe (victims of genocide) = Caucasian”
    Did you forget that Yue is a Hispanic actress? Though I agree she should’ve played Katara given that she looks more like her.
    “Earth Kingdom (run by a corrupt government) = “any other ethnicities”
    I believe there was line in the show stated by Iroh that the EK was a diverse nation. Though from what I’ve seen it seems that Asian’s will be more in the EK than the rest of the world. Remember, they’re going off the fact that this is more representative of the real world than just an Asian one, which is something I praise Night for. I’d rather see that than an Asian or Euro – centric story.
    “Fire Nation (evil villains) = Middle Eastern”
    I think at this point you’re making it more about race than the average film goer.
    “Don’t forget Avatar Roku will be a white actor.
    Have you seen the original series?
    Katara, Sokka, and Aang are the first characters introduced.”
    I have no idea what Ben Cooke (Roku) looks like so I can’t comment on that. Yes, I saw the original series and I loved it regardless of the race.
    “Katara is the strong, mature, mother of the group of HEROES.
    Sokka is the leader of the group of HEROES
    Aang is the HERO who saves the world!”
    And Zuko is the troubled, confused young man, arguably the most complex of the show. Iroh is the wise old mentor who guides all the characters in the right direction at one point of the show or another; a fan favorite. Dev is Indian and Shaun is Persian.
    “But, to the children of color its just as important as the character’s gender.
    I am positive that M.Night’s daughter felt empowerment dressing as a strong female hero, The character’s skin color matching her own was a cherry on top of that empowerment sundae.”
    Or she’s a normal kid who saw a cool person to emulate on Halloween like 99% of the other kids who dress up on Halloween. My kid brother dressed up as Two Face. Did that “empower” him to flip silver dollars and kill people when it landed on tails? No, because it’s MAKE BELIEVE.
    And people’s (even the director’s) personal lives aren’t the issue here. Don’t drag Night’s family into this. That’s just not right.
    “In the commentary of the show’s pilot episode,
    one of the creators established that Katara was designed from “Authentic Inuit” features.”
    I’ve already expressed my disdain for that. In fact you quoted it and completely glanced over it in an attempt to make a point.
    “Many believe that Aang looks like a Tibetan/Shaolin Monk.”
    Operative word here “believe.” No concrete evidence to support that claim. Having a shaved head and a fair skin complexion makes it reasonable to assume as such.
    “Did they not use the right shade of yellow? Or was his eyes not slanted enough for you? Sorry, there are a large group that don’t have the privilege of being colorblind.”
    There were plenty of characters who I thought were Asian at first glance: Zuko (and his family), Long Feng, Toph, Jeong Jeong, Gyatso. If anything, Aang was the ONLY one who could pass for Caucasian. But then again, you’re the one making it more about race than I had.
    “But, in HOLLYWOOD, let Asian/Inuit people REPRESENT characters, who practice such religions and customs.”
    I wasn’t aware of Inuit Buddhists and martial artists. Plus, I thought you guys were against stereotypical Asian roles in movies. Wouldn’t East Asian actors playing martial artist characters in a Buddhist/Hindu inspired world only further propagate the stereotypical Asian in Hollywood?
    “What would your impression be you watch a movie with
    Caucasian heroes fighting against villains who will be perceived as Middle Eastern?”
    I wouldn’t look at race. Once again, seems to me that you’re making it more about race than I am.
    “So, you believe that European Americans should represent characters of color ignoring the 14 million Asian Americans and 3 million Native Americans?”
    No, I don’t. Maybe you’re right. I am “color blind” in that I see people, not colors. Unlike you who sees people as bags of variously colored skin.
    “Now, who is the one “hating” here?”
    “Why can’t fantasies based on Asian mythology/folklore like Avatar: The Last Airbender have Asians REPRESENTING the people of that universe?”
    Do you actually read the interviews or are you only reading what you want to read out of it? Because, to save you the trouble of reading the article, it’s an adaptation, not a carbon copy of it. If it was a literal translation of the show, you and the other racebender’s arguments would be valid, but it’s not.
    Maybe you should be attacking James Cameron’s “Avatar” for blue-facing Native American and African tribal cultures.

  76. Wan Shi Tong says:

    As an Asian-Canadian fan of the original animated series, I have no major problems with the casting (thank God Jesse McCartney's NOT playing Zuko). It's a little different, but it's certainly no reason to boycott the film.

  77. Luis says:

    Wow, many of the posters here seem so angry about how the characters are being played by white actors and actresses, that its as if they would be the racist ones themselves. I can picture them walking down city streets shooting dirty looks at white people because they feel they were cheated lol XD
    also i find it so disgusting that some of you posters mention Night's daughters as if you knew them yourselves. His daughters are a huge inspiration to him in directing this movie, and as a father im sure they will be the last people he would ever think of disappointing.

  78. Fandral says:

    How can I enjoy a movie when I know that someone has been discriminated making this movie. I really hate what they did with the casting. No matter how much they spend making this movie!! I won't ever watch this. And I'm also gonna convince my friends not to go see this crap.

  79. Elizabeth L. says:

    Oh, I love it when white people claim they're being discriminated against. Almost every movie and television show released in America and Canada features, stars, and is all about white people (no, the occasional black or Asian side character does not count as diversity). How are white people being discriminated against because we want to see one movie – one! – that isn't about them?

  80. Elizabeth L. says:

    @ Luis: you’re kidding, right? You know there are white people who think the racebending is disgusting?
    @ David Markanian:
    “Did you forget that Yue is a Hispanic actress?”
    One non-white actress for a side character does not make up for all the main heroes suddenly being white.
    “I think at this point you’re making it more about race than the average film goer.”
    We’re not “making it about” anything; the movie has already been made to be about race by promoting racist casting practices and giving us a world where the good guys are all white and the bad guys are all brown.
    “I have no idea what Ben Cooke (Roku) looks like so I can’t comment on that.”
    Just so you know, he’s white. Which is odd, since the Fire Nation is now all brown, but- oh, that’s right, Roku is always seen as GOOD. Not even the Fire Nation man who helps the heroes can be brown.
    “And Zuko is the troubled, confused young man, arguably the most complex of the show. Iroh is the wise old mentor who guides all the characters in the right direction at one point of the show or another; a fan favorite. Dev is Indian and Shaun is Persian.”
    A) the movie probably won’t be nearly that complex and b) that doesn’t change the fact that they start the story out as villains.
    “Or she’s a normal kid who saw a cool person to emulate on Halloween like 99% of the other kids who dress up on Halloween.”
    I’m going out on a limb here and saying you’re a white man. To *you*, all of the characters you dressed up were looked like you, so you never had to think about this. However, everyone else? Race is noticed (and, for that matter, gender is also noticed). You are the only one who gets the privilege of assuming it doesn’t matter.
    “There were plenty of characters who I thought were Asian at first glance: Zuko (and his family), Long Feng, Toph, Jeong Jeong, Gyatso. If anything, Aang was the ONLY one who could pass for Caucasian. But then again, you’re the one making it more about race than I had.”
    …how did you get that Aang was white? I don’t understand. I thought from the start that he was meant to be Asian, what with looking like a Tibetan monk.
    “I wasn’t aware of Inuit Buddhists and martial artists. Plus, I thought you guys were against stereotypical Asian roles in movies. Wouldn’t East Asian actors playing martial artist characters in a Buddhist/Hindu inspired world only further propagate the stereotypical Asian in Hollywood?”
    A stereotypical character has no role other than to BE the stereotype. The characters of A:TLA, on the other hand, are not there JUST to be Buddhist or a martial artist; they have personalities, character development, purpose as people and not just there to be strange and othered.
    “No, I don’t. Maybe you’re right. I am “color blind” in that I see people, not colors. Unlike you who sees people as bags of variously colored skin.”
    When I hear “color blind”, I hear “my default is white”. Only white people have the privilege to operate on such a notion, and quite frankly, it’s an insulting one. By claiming to be “color blind” to race, you’re assuming everyone has the same life experience that you’ve had – which is completely untrue. The discriminatory casting practices in this film ALONE should clue you in on that – “Caucasian or any other race” (instead of “any race” or “race not a factor”). The fact of the matter is, your race, ethnicity and the color of your skin in many countries (USA and Canada included) play a huge role in how you are treated today. Next time you’re in a store, please notice that no one is following you around; the bandaids you buy that claim to be “skin-colored” MATCH your skin color; when you’re interviewing for a job, you never have to worry that the employer is subconsciously (or even outright) thinking that they don’t want a black person, or that a woman can’t handle the job.
    Purporting to have a “color blind” is something made by white people, for white people. If you still doubt me on this, google the phrase “white privilege”.
    “Maybe you should be attacking James Cameron’s “Avatar” for blue-facing Native American and African tribal cultures.”
    What, you think being called Pocahontas/Dances With Wolves in space are compliments? Believe me, there are plenty of people already hating this movie just for the perpetuation of the “white savior” and “noble savages” tropes alone.

  81. Elizabeth L. says:

    One more comment, about “color blindness” and taken from this article from the Southern Poverty Law Center (http://www.tolerance.org/activity/white-anti-racism-living-legacy):
    What do you think of the concept of being “colorblind”?
    I hate it. While I think I get the “intention” behind the comment, the reality, when applied, is that a whole segment of the community — people of color — are disregarded. When I hear that we should strive for a colorblind society, I hear that we should all adopt to one norm, which may be the most familiar or comfortable for American culture. American culture in the U.S., in my opinion, translates directly to white mainstream culture.
    There is no room for diversity in that statement. As a person of color, a Latina, a woman, it means that I need to let go of all that makes me who I am in order to blend into what is acceptable. A colorblind society reminds me of the melting pot theory. I would rather be a part of a “tossed salad,” where all different types of people can coexist and live together while maintaining their own personal identities.
    To be “colorblind” implies the invisibility of race, something we all know to not be invisible. My experience of the world is informed by being white; other people experience and interact with me informed by my whiteness so, for me, colorblindness feels like an erasure. To be colorblind is to not see my family, where we come from, our history, and our ways of being. “Colorblind” avoids difference rather than recognizing and valuing it. I do not see how a white activist can be an ally from a position of colorblindness. I understand that many people use this term to challenge racial stereotyping, to not see people “as” their color and the associated racial stereotypes, but it functions as assimilation. If we become “colorblind,” than to which worlds and ways of being are we being blinded? What are we not “seeing?” And in which “hue” will we be operating?
    I personally find it offensive. The largest organ I have is skin, which happens to be brown and rather than accept it, some who call themselves allies want to be blind to it.
    Of course we have differences and its okay. Let’s be realistic — as much as it would be nice to have a colorblind society, that’s not the way it is given our historical landscape. That’s not the way we are socialized to think.

  82. Alice says:

    “Well, as I look at the casting list on IMDb, I see Europeans, Indians, East Asians, a Maori, a Persian, and pretty much everyone but African. How is this not diverse?! Maybe Europeans don’t fit into their version of “diversity.”” – David Markanian.
    There is diversity in the film…only said diversity will feature mostly prominently in the background and that does not and should not count because that kind of “diversity” is like wallpaper–these people will be there to look pretty and to be exotic. They will mostly likely have very little dialogue or action (much less a starring role in the movie) and in essence be props, human-shaped props while the characters at the forefront of the film are 3 of European descent and Middle Easterners as the villains.
    And on that tangent, the Water Tribe characters the audience will see most of will be 3 White actors (Sokka, Katara, and Gran-Gran) while the rest of the Tribe will populated by Inuit actors. Why kind of message do you think Paramount is trying to send with that? And why bother anyways? Why not just populate the entire Water Tribe with White actors when race doesn’t matter at all? It just doesn’t add up.
    And why did you think Monk Gyatso was Asian if Aang could pass for Caucasian? Gyatso also is a monk, wears the different but similarly colored saffron robes, has a shaved head, etc. Why does Aang become possibly Caucasian if Gyatso can be identified as Asian at first glance? Is it because Gyatso has smaller-drawn eyes than Aang? If so, I’d highly recommend you take a look at the visual essay on Aang’s character design @ http://community.livejournal.com/racebending/71429.html
    The original cartoon’s message was about diversity (note the different skin tones rather than just one color) and unity, but in this adaptation, it will be about a dark-skinned prince who will learn the true way to freedom and goodness–by following the white-skinned heroes who have been sympathetic and relateable since the first movie. It’s true that Zuko’s a complex character, but he has to learn the error of his ways and thinking, and in the adaptation, it will be that his family (sans Iroh) and his country were wrong while the heroes of the movie will have been do-gooders since the beginning. Which translates to brown = wrong, white = right. It’s subtle unless you’re alert for it, but the message is pretty clear and I’m sure the kid demographic the movie is aiming for will notice it too.

  83. Gavin says:

    The over-reacting to the casting is staggering.

  84. Stephen says:

    @ Gavin:
    No, they are understandable reactions by those who have noticed that all the actors for the main heroes are Caucasian and that all the actors for the enemies are nonwhite, mainly dark-skinned.

  85. amy says:

    Have any of you bothered to research the original show & what the creators have had to say? If you do, you'll find that this was not an anime show (though it's similar at times) nor was it based on middle eastern culture. The fighting moves stances were based on various styles of martial arts. That's it. This was an american made tv show. "Long ago, four nations lived together in harmony" They mean the whole world!!! Get over yourselves. I love the TV show & cannot wait to see the movie. If M Night was a fan as this article suggest, I'm sure he'll do it justice.

  86. Stephen says:

    @ amy
    First, it's based on Asian and Inuit cultures, not Middle Eastern. Second, How can you say that the show's not based on them, when the creators themselves did extensive research on these cultures when making the show? How does it being American-made and set in a fantasy world suddenly mean that it can't be Asian-influenced? Seems like you're the one who hasn't done enough research…

  87. art says:

    I want to ask everyone beating this dead horse about the race of the cast one single question.
    Where was all this outrage when the show was airing on Nick?
    You do realize of course that these "Asian" characters were voiced by white people in the original series do you not? You do get that Katara, Aang, Sokka, Suki, Toph, Azula, Ozai etc were all voiced by white people don't you? In fact about the only two not voiced by white people were Zuko and Iroh and Iroh was voiced by Mako until his death and was recast to be. . . a white person.
    The show is created by 2 middle aged white guys too, you do get that don't you?
    This is a dead horse that has throughly been beaten into the ground. We get it, a work of fiction based on a work of fiction with Asian influences has been cast with white people instead of Asian people. You'll live. If I could survive them casting a black man as The Kingpin in the Marvel Comics Daredevil movie you can survive this.
    I don't mean to be callous but at this point it's done and it's not changing. Can we PLEASE just talk about the actual film itself without this issue coming up and dominating every conversation about the movie?
    Let this dead horse DIE.

  88. jedifreac says:

    @art There was an awareness that there were not enough voice actors of color in the series, which is why many Asian American actors of color were brought on board to guest star. Many of these actors came from Mako's Asian American theater troupe, East West Players.
    While the creators of the series were two guys who are white, a great many Asian Americans and other people of color were also involved in the production. Regardless of the creators' ethnicity, much care was taken to ensure that the animated series would be culturally competent–this film hasn't done the same even though it's director is not white.
    Voice actors play a different role in an animated series than actors play in a live action film. Voice actors are not responsible for the visual representation of a character of color. In the Simpsons, Bart is voiced by a middle-aged woman. In a live action film version (god forbid) he would be played by a boy.
    I'm amused that you view casting Kingpin, a villain from Daredevil, with a black actor, as such a concession–particularly since actors of color rarely get roles in movies at all. White Americans, represented in nearly 80% of roles in Hollywood and almost 100% of the lead roles, are going to have an easier time "surviving." The casting of a black actor to play Kingpin was not the loss of a rare opportunity for white actors. Contrast this to Avatar:The Last Airbender was a rare franchise where Asian American & Inuit American actors could have been the leads.
    You seem intent on silencing people who are upset about the casting of this movie. But there's nothing wrong with continued discussion about discrimination, how it affects people's daily lives, and how it affects our beloved franchises.

  89. art says:

    No, the casting of the Kingpin from Daredevil was when they took a guy who is white in comics and a villian and cast him as a black man in the movies. Talk about negative stereotypes. Hey let's take this white character from the comics who's a villain and cast him as a black man in our live action adaption because this guy "fits the character best". You know what? I lived.
    Look I'm not getting into this debate. People are determined to be mad about this and nothing I say or post will change their minds. However I'll stick to what I said. It's annoying to actually WANT to talk about the actual movie and not be able to because every discussion is dominated by this topic. No one anywhere on the internet can have a reasonable discussion about this movie for any extended length of time without nearly each and every discussion devolving into the race of the cast and personally I'm tired of it.
    I want to talk about the movie, I want to talk about the effects, I want to talk about appa being seen in the teaser. I want to talk about something, ANYTHING other than this dead horse.
    Again, they made a fictional work based on a fictional cartoon show and cast white people to play the lead roles.
    YOU'LL LIVE. Can we PLEASE talk about something else?
    If I want to talk about discrimination and how it affects my life I'm going to choose a topic of more substance than a fictional movie based on a cartoon show and for what it's worth getting into THAT kind of topic on the internet anyway would be a lesson in futility as far as I'm concerned.

  90. art says:

    This is all I'll say before people start throwing accusations and internet hyperbole towards my way about this.
    This issue simply doesn't cause me a conniption. Is it a raw deal? Yes. Is it enough to send me into a fit? No. I'm not trying to silence anyone. I'd just rather talk about something else other than this.
    The only people being "silenced" are the people who want to actually talk about the MOVIE and not the casting of the actors FOR the movie. For those of us who just want to talk about the film we can't because every topic on the internet about the film is dominated by this single issue. Look at this page. Nearly 90 comments at this point and virtually all of them about this issue.
    People trying to actually talk about a different aspect of the film other than this are being drowned out.

  91. Ben Osborne says:

    Well if were going to throw casting to the wall… I want Toph Bei Fong to A blind African American Girl ….Will Smiths little Girl maybe !!! But the trailer looks awesome !

  92. nemogbr says:

    From what I gather Toph Bei Fong may be a sassy black girl. Paramount studios need to fill their diversity quota.
    Even the blog "AngryBlackWoman" has an article regarding the casting.
    "A Chocolate Coating to make the Bitter White Pill Go Down Easier."
    They knew that even though the series did not feature black people, the studio will find a way to have them in the cast to cover-up the racebending of the roles.
    From the test sreening reviews, I do not think the final version would be able to camouflage the bad acting. They might spend more money for the special effects like the Ember Island Players.
    At least people can say, "the effects were decent. "

  93. Alex says:

    and i would definitely agree with art that I would love to start discussing this movie without this topic. I am in such anticipation for it!!!

  94. Alex says:

    Wow…it would appear that people are completely voicing off on, what they see as, a racist attitude on Hollywood’s part for the casting of this movie. But I’m just hoping I can bring an idea to this talk…
    First, if you are a person who is a part of this “Expose Hollywood’s racism” movement and you are not a fan of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender tv series, then you just need to leave. You need to stop talking about this movie. Why? Because you obviously do not care about this movie or this story. You probably won’t even see the movie when it comes out. All you care about is making a big stink and hopefully getting a lot of media attention. Well do it with something else because I know that plenty of die-hard Avatar fans, like myself, are getting tired of this subject being the only thing people talk about with this movie. We are excited for this movie! Legitimately excited! We just want to see something that we care very much about made into the best movie possible and would prefer if people stop distracting from it to focus on something that is an argument that could be made for any movie. Let us have this movie to enjoy without controversy because we love this story
    Also, this movie is…(if you hadn’t noticed in every ad, trailer or website for the film)…an M. NIGHT SHYMALAN production. When Night gets involved in a movie, he isn’t some director that comes in with no input, he is involved in EVERYTHING. Meaning he was involved in the casting decisions. Probably even picked out all of the lead roles. That is why I find it extremely silly for people to insinuate that this movie is purposefully propagating an All-Caucasian-Hollywood-Perspective when Night, an Indian-American minority himself, is at the helm of this movie. He is, I would assume, well aware of any racist tendencies towards minorities in film lead roles. Yet, he is also trying to make the best movie possible and believes that he has found the best people possible for it
    Next, if you are a fan of the original series and you are still caught up in this cry-racism-movement then I have to say you should re-examine what you are doing. This series was created by Brian Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. they also happen to be the Exec Producers of this new film, meaning if they felt strongly that there was wrong-doing in the casting of the film they would have said something and done something to fix it. They haven’t. Working on this live-action adaptation are many MANY many people who LOVE the original series and would not want to do anything to harm it or taint it in anyway. They care about the story and have tried to find the best people they can to help portray this story that they love.
    I am also tired of people saying that the only people of color in this film are the “bad guys” meaning Dev Patel as Prince Zuko and the rest of the Fire Nation. If you knew anything about this story you would know that Zuko…(spoiler alert) becomes an ally of ‘Team Avatar’ in the story and ends as a hero himself while re-uniting the Fire Nation under a new, good and peace-loving ruler. To say that the people playing the Fire Nation are people of color because the Fire Nation are the evil ones in the film shows a complete lack of knowledge about the original story.
    If you aren’t an Avatar: The Last Airbender fan then find something else to use as your example of pushing your agenda.
    If you are an Avatar: The Last Airbender fan, then please stop stomping on this movie before it has even come out. If you are a true fan then you love this story and you should trust that the people who made this amazing story will continue to capture the beauty of it in this new adaptation.

  95. C.Clear says:

    As someone who has been following this movie I am shocked that reporters constantly fail to mention the racist casting and the omission or demotion of the Asian cultural influences in the show.
    Selectively asking that the people auditioning for the main rule be preferably Caucasian despite the fact that all the main characters are pan Asian characters. Casting the main bad guys as people primarily of Indian/Middle Eastern decent with the heroes being exclusively white (the one exception to this rule being the past Fire Nation Avatar who is being portrayed by a white actor). This and a few other issues are never discussed in talking about M. Night's adaptation despite it being a issue that many fans of the series have issues with.
    I have heard it said that the race of the actors shouldn't matter only their talent but can we say we have even practiced or even tried out this idea of meritocracy when the casting process overwhelmingly prefers Caucasian actors despite this being a story that the creators and animators who have worked on the series have basically gone on record verifying the Asian background of the characters as if the series were not proof enough (For the record Dev Patel the only lead character who is not white, was only offered the role after Jesse McCartney dropped out of the project and the fan base had made their disdain for the casting choices known.)
    Despite its stellar reputation as a Newspaper I am very disappointed that the L.A. Times avoided discussing this issue despite it being a very blatant issue of this movie.

  96. art says:

    @concerned parent
    You wanna know why Jackson Rathbourne was cast as Sokka?
    Because Paramount spent 250 million on this trilogy and Jackson Rathbourne will put teenage movie going butts in the seats at the movie theater.
    It's the simple harsh reality of things. Money talks and trumps all else, Paramount will do whatever they can to make their money back and if that means casting teen heart-throbs over more authentic looking actors then that's what they will do even if it means ticking off a few die hard fans on the internet.
    Anyway, I just saw the full trailer and it's amazing. I can't wait for the movie. I even showed it to a friend of mine who didn't watch the series on Nick and he's pumped too after a just a 2 minute introduction.
    Again the only people being silenced are people who want to talk about something other than the race of the cast. I'm not looking to fight the world. I just wanna watch an action flick based on a cool cartoon show.
    There are over 1100 comments posted for the new trailer on youtube within the past day. Almost all of them are on this topic. Everything else is drowned out.
    The racebending protesters simply won't allow me to enjoy discussing this film online in peace. People whose life isn't adversely affected by this will just stop caring because they won't be allowed to enjoy the film in peace.
    Carry on protesters. I'm done. However, I would ask that when the movie does finally hit theaters this summer that you allow me to enjoy it in peace.

  97. art says:

    Finally (hopefully) I'll leave again with this.
    Do I see the point of all the protests? Yes I do. After all of this fuss did I notice the all white cast in the trailer? Yes I did.
    Is it enough of an issue for me to make THIS much of a stink about it? No it's not. Do I think people hoping for this project to fail for no other reason than this issue is petty and immature? Yes I do.
    Am I annoyed because I'd like to talk about something OTHER than this issue which has been raging non-stop for over a year now and will change absolutely nothing (do you honestly think they are going to fire Nicole Peltz and Noah Ringer over this)? Yes, that too.

  98. @art
    so you want to discuss the movie as a fan?
    the youtube community of trolls
    is not the best people to communicate with.
    I know several fansites that would welcome you.
    Most of them have just 1 or 2 threads of the casting controversy.
    Find those sites, there are plenty of fans who have the privilege of not caring.
    At first, I thought Rathbone was to attract the Twilight crowd,
    but, how is The Last Airbender going to compete with Twilight Eclispse opening the same weekend?
    But, you are right,
    money trumps all,
    which is why a boycott is organized.
    The low box office numbers will tell Paramount
    that the consumers are in control,
    and we will not have our intelligence insulted.
    We don't need a predominantly white media for Middle America to identify with anymore.
    We don't need a Caucasian actor to guide us in an exotic land.
    We are ready for diverse heroes.
    Prejudice will not profit.
    Don't underestimate The Racebending Movement.
    We are not simple die hard fans on the internet.
    Those fans are simply supporters of the cause.
    Without racebending.com,
    I wouldn't have been aware that Harrison Ford didn't create the Pompe cure.
    You claim you understand our point of view.
    If you weren't offended by the casting,
    you wouldn't try to convince us to give up.
    You are worried about The Racebending Movement
    ruining your theatre experience.
    Well, its pretty easy to ignore us in front of the theatre
    and we will not force you to read our signs and flyers.
    You should be more worried about the screaming teeny boppers
    ruining your blissful peace time with The Last Airbender.

  99. @Alex & @art
    One of the main lessons taught in Book 1: Water,
    when there is injustice, we must stand up and fight against it.
    When Sifu Paku discriminated against teaching females bending,
    Katara stood up and fought against the system.
    Would you tell Katara to shut up and go learn to heal with her powers
    and totally ignore her hidden potential?
    I consider myself a fan.
    After my kids and I heard the announcement of the live action film,
    we were extremely excited. I thought to myself that this film will open up opportunities for young Asian-American actors/actresses.
    Finally, putting us on the map, like the unknown kids of Harry Potter.
    Finally, kids of color as heroes, just like the animated series.
    Then after reading about the casting announcement,
    it was like a slap in the face.
    Then after Jackson Rathbone’s “i definitely need a tan” comment,
    it was like getting spat on.
    And when McCartney was replaced by Patel,
    it was like the slapper wiping the spit off my face,
    but, couldn’t get the fowl stench of morning breath out of my nose.
    I assumed that the film production would make the same effort
    that Mike and Bryan did when creating the Avatar universe.
    They practiced Yoga and Kung-Fu,
    they traveled to China for architectural reference photos,
    they spent months in Korea with the animation studio,
    they consulted Sifu Kisu on the Kung-Fu choreography,
    they tapped into the East West Players resources to hire the Mako and Basco,
    they put their blood and sweat into creating a universe with
    Asian/Inuit mythology, folklore, philosophy, religion, ideologies, architecture, diet, calligraphy, fashion, martial arts, etc, etc…
    The work is already done. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
    I don’t understand why Paramount’s production didn’t put in that same effort.
    Avatar: The Last Airbender is a tribute to Asian folklore/mythology
    Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s films.
    The Last Airbender is disrespectful to the cultures expressed in the original source material.
    I have been reading peoples responses to The Racebending Movement for almost a year now,
    and one of the worse rebuttals is,
    “…but, its American-made…”,
    as if there weren’t 14 million Asian-Americans and 3 million Native-Americans.
    All we ask for is everyone’s understanding.
    Understand that we wanted people of color to REPRESENT the characters of color.
    We know that the people who are not offended will not boycott,
    but, don’t tell the offended to shut up and support the film
    just because its easy for you to suspend your disbelief,
    there is a large population that don’t have the privilege.

  100. eric says:

    What the f**k this cat M. Night Shyamalan doesn't appear to want his own race up on the screen.
    I mean he clearly had the opportunity to provide one person of color the main role in any of his movies. To this date he hasn't chosen to do so.
    He clearly could provide this kid's movie main role to a person of color, including those of Asian decent.
    Why?? did M. Night Shyamalan choose to use mainly white actros??
    M. Night Shyamalan clearly has the pull to choose his own actors, I don't undrstand

  101. Tico says:

    Ok, just want to put this simple. Everyone is ticked that the casting has changed from the show. I wasn't too happy about it either, however, to sacrifice a chance for this movie to go through all 3 seasons, over something as small as racial differences is kind of dumb.
    Keep in mind that they had to find actors that can work with Martial Arts. It is not something easily learned. Then the other little fact is someone that speaks clear English. Sorry, but do you want a movie where you need subtitles to understand the characters or a movie that has good writing, action, and drama with good spoken English?

  102. Big D says:

    "Keep in mind that they had to find actors that can work with Martial Arts."
    Do you think Keanu Reeves knew martial arts before he did the Matrix? Do you think the boy who plays the lead for Airbender, or his rich-brat of a female lead, know martial arts, considering they're both kids? Actors often need to be TAUGHT martial arts for a part, because Hollywood would rather cast a well-known face like Reeves and just teach him martial arts than have some unknown martial arts master play the part. It's called star power. Anyone can and IS taught kung-fu for parts in Hollywood without any previous experience.
    "Sorry, but do you want a movie where you need subtitles to understand the characters or a movie that has good writing, action, and drama with good spoken English?"
    Now this just screams racism. You're assuming that anyone who looks non-white wouldn't be able to speak clear English. You fail to take into account the many people, who's parents are non-white immigrants, who were born in the USA, who are second-generation Asian or Hispanic or Indian or African, and speak fluent and clear English. In fact, California, where Hollywood is, has a huge Asian-American population, many of them first, second, third generation, who look Asian enough, but speak perfect English. There are also plenty of other children of immigrants who were born here and are fluent English. This racist comment of yours that if they're not white, they must not speak good english, is ignorant and crap.

  103. Alex says:

    All things aside, this movie is already in post-production. It's done and will be released in July. Nothing anybody can do about it. That's why I am irritated. It seems that there are a lot of people out there that claim to care about Avatar: The Last Airbender but really I have to question that. Because if they really cared, they wouldn't try to destroy this movie. If you really are a fan in this movement then you need to think hard about what you are doing to the series you love. Because here's how it goes: If your protests succeed then this movie will be boycotted by the millions and lose tons of money and the failure at the box office will lead to the shutting down of production on the next movies. And then The Last Airbender will become the movie whose fans killed it (in the general public's eyes) and the story will never be looked at again.
    I say this because I feel like there is some number of people that feel as though if they succeed, Paramount will see the error of its ways and immediately begin production on a properly casted version of the story. NOPE. You all do realize that if this movie dies, the story dies. No more Avatar except on Nicktoons and on your dvds of past seasons. No exposure for it, no further development….its done.
    I don't like that idea…and the decision I have made about it is, now that they have seen the controversy they have made and the potential revenue loss, let's give them the chance to fix it for the next two movies. I mean, there are still plenty of characters to develop…lets give them the chance to do so with better casted actors. Yeah, the main 3 that people have problems with won't change, but they can still do right with casting for a big character like Toph. Give it a chance. Its a series of movies that will continue to develop.

  104. @Tico
    I was hesitant to reply because I was afraid of feeding a troll.
    But, after the second comment, your ignorance is clear.
    Your Asian stereotypes are disturbing.
    especially your comments,
    "..speaks creal Engrish..".
    "…Asian families are strict.."
    I'm just waiting for the " .. that's why they are good at math.."
    Not too many Asian kids auditioned for the role.
    They were most likely discouraged after reading the casting call sheet that stated,
    But, many "other ethnicities" auditioned
    when they had a calling for extras,
    Perris Aquino auditioned. (youtube him)
    He knows Kung-Fu and pursues acting.
    Noah Ringer is a Karate champ who auditioned
    because his friends and family pressured him to.
    Noah Ringer got the part and was sent to an acting bootcamp before filming.
    Do some research before you fire off your mouth.
    "You all do realize that if this movie dies, the story dies."
    The story has been told. Its done. It doesn't need to be retold.
    If you were a TRUE True Fan,
    You would realize that this film is going to kill the franchise,
    like Rathbone's "tan" comment will kill his career.
    I don't see how Paramount will see the error of its ways
    by giving them money.
    The whole point of a boycott is for Paramount to realize
    that prejudice will not profit.

  105. Tico says:

    Alex, you hit the nail on the head.
    Big D, you need to do more research. Noah Ringer has prior Martial Art experience.
    Do some research before you fire off your mouth.
    Second, about the fact of someone speaking clear English. They were trying to get someone that can jump into the role and not just someone they have to train for a year to get them close to perfect. Think about it. You are talking about taking a kid out of school to play a part in a movie. They have to learn Ba Gua Kung Fu forms, memorize lines, perform take after take and hopefully they will get some homeschooling along the way. See people like you are naive about the inner workings of Hollywood. My family is from Argentina, therefore I am second generation Latino. I am by far not racist, but I am realistic.
    So I will be direct and honest with you, the casting went on the way it did. You have no clue whether or not any Asian kids came out to try for the role. Since I have studied in Martial Arts for a long time, mind you it was about 15 years of training, I also took the time to study the culture. The movements required to play Aang cannot be done by a simple street performer learning Martial Arts for the first time. What they did with Keanu Reeves in Matrix had a lot more camera trickery than you realize. They choreographed the entire fight between him and Lawrence. The movements were simple and basic. What Noah is doing is more advanced! Back to the culture part, many Asian families are strict about school and one thing they will make sure is that their kid is not going to miss out of school. So do you really think that Asian actors by the thousands lined up to be Aang, Zuko, Katara, and Sokka? I highly doubt it.
    As for the casting remarks, it was stupid for them to put out the open casting call for extras in the manner that they chose. That was unprofessional. I don't think they went to these kids at their houses and said, "Hey, your a perfect little white kid to play the role of Aang. Lets go little boy…"
    Sorry, but as Alex said, if you are a true fan of the movie, then you would support the movie and not let it die by its own fans.

  106. Tico says:

    True true fan:
    I understand where you are coming from. I am not saying that Asians should not have a fair chance. Don’t believe me? Look here:
    Look for my posts. I am Tico1125…
    As for them not auditioning because of how the casting call was put out, who’s fault is that? I say it is their fault for 1 reason. We all control our destinies. If they did not let them in for auditions, then they go to the press. They stage the protest on the site. Did they do that? No. They stuck their tales between their legs and walked away. Sorry but the reality is that in this country, if you want it, then you have to fight for it, otherwise go home. Look at Obama. He fought for it, and now he is President. Guess what, there is no excuses. Racism is card played by racist people. You think I am a stereotype, but you are wrong. I have a better understanding of Chinese culture than most. I am not judging anyone, but pointing out the facts. Facts, that you do not like because it is the truth. As for Noah Ringer getting the role, guess what, the kid looks more like Aang than most. There are tons of people that will agree. As for the kids they chose for Sokka, Katara, and Zuko, I don’t like the choices, but who am I to say what is right and wrong. Sorry, but I am 32 years old and have a pretty clear understanding on how this country works. Racism only exists in the minds of people who need an excuse.
    Think of it this way, you audition for American Idol, they are looking for a great singer, and your are outside of the age range by 1 year, are you going to call age discrimination? I would hope not because they clearly indicate what they are looking for and that is a Pop star. So now you have a choice, you can just give up or work harder to break into the music scene. Again it boils down to your choice. You can go to college or work in a fast food restaurant the rest of your life. Another choice in life…
    Hopefully you understand the point. If you don’t, the ask Jackie Chan if he has been discriminated against when make all the Rush Hour movies with Chris Tucker. Ask Jet Li if he was discriminated against in the Lethal Weapon movie or Fearless. If he was alive, you could ask Bruce Lee why he fought so hard to expose the Chinese culture even when Hollywood treated him like garbage. Oh wait, they all have become big stars. Guess why! They didn’t just give up nor stamp their feet calling out RACISM!
    Wake up and open your eyes. I am in the Generation X and when the older baby boomer generations start fading away, Generation X is going to take over and then you will see your precious Racism card fade completely away.

  107. Ann says:

    I find it funny that this East Asian show has NO East Asian characters in the movie. Dev Patel is the only Asian, and Middle Easterners had NOTHING to do with East Asian culture.
    I rarely use this, but this seems like the right time…

  108. Justin says:

    Shymalan needs to stop being paramounts bitch. Racist casting now from a Director of colour. You can make all the excuses in the world but when it comes down to it you whitewashed the heroes, and turned the chinese villians into indians. Wow Shymalan is indian too what a coincidence! The world is progressing in the opposite direction.

  109. John A says:

    This isnt a matter of race, but rather an issue of staying true to the cartoon or anime. I too was disappointed to find out that the fire nation were not of east asian decent. Clearly in the cartoon they are of east asian origin just by looking at the architectural style of the buildings seen in the fire nation. Although I will admit the trailer looks pretty good, I would like reasoning as why the casting does not reflect the characters in the cartoon

  110. Jonathan Pizano says:

    I am a big fan of the series A:TLA, I knew eventually it would be made into a trilogy. But when I heard and saw the issues at hand, I was mortified.I think we can all agree that this is total B.S.
    Shayamalan… or however you spell his damn name, stated in the articles that he is the one who chose the actors for the parts. And his reason is and I quote "The great thing about anime is that it's ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It's intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No, that's just in our house. And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that's what's so beautiful about anime."
    WRONG DUMB ASS! if the character is middle eastern or asian then you keep it as that, its not something that just simply suggests what race the character is. They're that race because THATS what the STORY STATES!
    This is completely ridiculous. Stop giving M. Night Shyamalan scripts to Direct, he only butchers them!

  111. Tim says:

    As always in a comment forum, a lot of tedious discussion about race. For the record, I thought Aang’s race was Air Nomad, Zuko – Fire Nation, Sokka and Katara – Water Tribe, and Toph from the Earth Kingdom. Anyone seen the map during the animated series? It’s not planet Earth. Will there be panic and hatred if Appa is not played by the proper species of bison or Momo an improper lemur species? Of course not because these are fantasy creatures as are the human-like characters that will be depicted in a live action movie derived from those in an animated, fantasy world. After being bombarded with race in politics, sports, and seemingly every other aspect of life in the modern world, can we please just say that regardless of who is cast as Aang that make-up and mannerisms will be used to attempt to accurately depict the race of Air Nomad, one that last time I checked is not available for casting on this planet.

  112. An Asian in Southlan says:

    All of the readily available responses by Hollywood producers and Mr. Night are clearly, clearly biased….lets face the music here, their one and only goal is to make it palatable to american film audiences to go the theaters and spend $14 a pop to watch it. Their argument that they wanted to cast caucasian actors as the primary roles because they are the best suited for the roles is clearly bogus–its their only way to have white america empathize with their roles and thus release their hard earned money at the box office. Clearly a business decision and not a progressive movie choice. Why do you think Harry Potter kids are white? Superman? Batman? The money curve for fantasy superheroes clearly shows that white = more revenue.
    Mr. Night clearly has to toe the line in order to be able line up and ask for the studio handout, thus selling out ethnic audiences in the meantime by perpetuating the fantasy.
    A boycott is deserved, because if we don't stand up and say that the hollywood machine doesn't care about us of color, then why should they attract our dollars?
    Go watch pixar, or danny boyle flicks IMHO….progressive, successful, and willing to take on race in a dignified, admirable way.

  113. Chelsea says:

    He ruined the Avatar!! RUINED IT!! he cut out WAY too much,and especially pronounced the names WRONG!!!!! I was looking forward to this movie and i should've asked for my money back! I don't think this guy should be the director for this movie. he ruined it completely. he also changed a lot too! one thing i hate is that the fire benders had to carry torches to use fire when in the cartoon, they can make fire out of nothing. it really REALLY sucks how he ruined the whole world of Avatar: The last airbender. 1/5 stars

  114. g says:

    Yeah a real killer. Shymalan killed Avatar, the last air bender.
    Paramount should have treated this project like the Potter movies, or Lord of the Rings.
    They should have hired someone of Peter Jackson's caliber, not some director who has directed 3 consecutive movies that sucked, and crashed at the box office.
    They should have stuck with the name Avatar: The last air bender. Avatar was it's real name, and they shouldn't be wary of people identifying it with James Cameron's sci fi.
    This was more original.
    The creators of the animation series should have supervised the script, the production, everything!
    They could have milked this to three or even four movies, but yeah, Shymalan killed it.
    Retire now, Mr. Shymalan. Your movies stink! Your first success was a fluke, not a credit to your skills.

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