Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Whitewashing is Racist

Over at Justine Larbelestier's blog, there is an excellent post by Ah Yuan on the importance of diversity. It reminded me of why it is that I became a writer. Because like Ms. Yuan, I kept looking for books that I could relate to, with a protagonist that shared my cultural background. And it was virtually impossible to find.

Who am I? I'm a Korean American and like so many other Asian Americans and Asians living outside their motherlands, we are seen as the voiceless minority. How many times in my life have I heard someone yell out at me "Why don't you go back home to China, Japan or Vietnam, where you belong?" Why can't they understand that we are home? Ask a Korean American who has gone to visit Korea and ask them if they felt at home? How could they? They face a different type of discrimination. The kind that says you may look Asian but you can't speak the language and you can't really understand our culture.

It's so hard to understand that this place I call home and that I’m so proud of, doesn’t necessarily share its pride and pleasure of having the world's most diverse community of different races and cultures. You won't see a lot of minorities gracing the covers of books, magazines or major movies. Not that there isn't any, just not a lot. And definitely less Asians than any other minorities. And then there's the fact that there has been a history of whitewashing in publishing and in theater that continues to this very day. The question I can't help but ask is why? We are already the minority. Why marginalize us even more?

Like so many others, I felt physically betrayed by the first cover of Justine Larbelestier's Liar and tremendously relieved to see Bloomsbury respond positively to reader outrage.




Looking at these two covers side by side, you have to wonder at the reason behind why a publishing company would whitewash a character who is supposed to be a person of color. I've read so many articles and blog posts about the controversy and the one rationale that always bothers me is the one that says people won't buy books with people of color on the covers. When they say "people" they mean "white people" right? But the thing is, do they even try? Or do they throw one token POC cover out there, give it barely any support, see that it doesn't do well, and call it a day. Change happens when we make what was once so different the norm. Representing diversity is especially important for publishers of children's books. Books are the gateways for the imagination. But the ones in North America are apparently only gateways for white children as minority children are relegated to watching wistfully from the side. We are left hoping for a token side kick or small character that we can relate to. But not the main character. Because even if the book has a POC as the main character, we can't be on the cover cause we won't sell the book. That's what this controversy meant to minority readers.

And then they did it again. See Black-Eyed Susan's post on Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore. The fact that Bloomsbury has fixed both covers is a positive change. We can only hope that it is indicative of a larger change in the industry. But we still have more to fix.

Many of you might have caught the recent trailer for a Paramount movie called The Last Airbender. It is based on a Nickelodeon television series called Avatar: The Last Airbender which is a wonderful animated program that celebrates the diverse culture of Asia. The main character is Aang as the Avatar, a young temple disciple that is clearly based on Chinese culture. The next two characters are Katara and Sokka, based on Inuit culture. And the antagonist is Prince Zuko, clearly drawn from Japanese culture. When I heard that Paramount was making a movie version and had hired M. Night Shyamalan to direct, I was excited. But then I saw the cast list and I felt punched in the gut.

http://www.coloredgirls.org/img/original/racebending.jpg

The movie has been completely whitewashed so that the rich culture of Asia that made the television series so wonderful is now represented by white actors. I can’t help but wonder what this really means. I’m sad for my children who were shocked to hear that Asian faces weren’t good enough to portray an Asian character. I’m sad for this culture that devalues the contributions of their Asian citizens. They believed that to make Airbender more relatable to the white majority, they needed to put white faces in Asian roles. At least the original casting of Prince Zuko with Jessie McCartney was replaced by Dev Patel. But notice the one main Asian actor happens to be the role of the antagonist.

When Twilight star Jackson Rathbone got the role as Sokka, he said "I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."

Hopefully it won't be as blatantly racist as Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

http://racebending.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/yellowface/1961BreakfastatTiffanys-MickeyRoone.jpg


Unfortunately, some people have responded with the fact that since these are anime characters drawn with the big freaky anime eyes, that they couldn't possibly be Asian. That because this is an American production, these characters are in fact white. I have no argument for this but one. Watch the video and you tell me. It provides scenes from the show compared to real life pictures of Asia.



What this movie and the book cover controversies show us is that the publishing industry and the entertainment industry is still prejudiced against non-whites. It's up to us, the public, to show them that this type of racism won't be tolerated. The outrage around the book covers caused Bloomsbury to change both book covers. But Paramount has refused to listen to the outcries of the fans. You can help by boycotting the film here. If you are on facebook then join this page. Help us send a message to Hollywood that whitewashing is racist.

Last year, Pat Buchanan said "This is a country built by white people." He conveniently failed to mention that it was also built on the blood, sweat and tears of the non-whites. The American Indians who were robbed of their land, the black slaves who worked this land, and the Chinese railroad workers who helped connect this land. Mr. Buchanan, we will no longer be overlooked. We will no longer be marginalized. We will no longer be the the forgotten people. We will take our place by your side and proudly claim that We are all American. You can't get rid of us and you can't pretend we don't exist. We won't tolerate it anymore. We will no longer be voiceless.

61 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Some of these decisions are surely being made by older folks who don't have any idea about the younger generation. I know lots of white kids who are into anime who will probably find it bizarre that the characters look so white.

Martha Flynn said...

Michelle Trachtenberg? Shoot me.

Natalie Whipple said...

Grrrr. This drives me crazy! Did you see what they did to Dragonball, too? White guy as Goku? For REALS?

I don't get it. I don't. Obviously I'm white, but I've always been fascinated by other cultures and ways of living and I want them represented accurately!

Grrr.

Avery DeBow said...

I don't get it, either. I think Charles is right. We're dealing with the type whose peers describe the internet as "a series of tubes." Not that it's an excuse for them to be so ignorant, just a reason why.

I have a close friend whose mother took a trip back to Korea after the death of her husband. She'd been away thirty years. She was indeed in culture shock and unfortunately didn't have the great time she had always imagined. While she was dreaming of Korea, she had become an American.

Nycparanoia said...

I went a little nuts trying to understand where Martha Flynn saw anything written about Michelle Tractenberg until I figured that she must be talking about the picture of 15 year old Nicola Peltz as Katara.

If I could shoot you for making such a glaring error, I would.

Martha Flynn said...

What can I say...all white, blue-eyed brunettes look the same to me. OH NO SHE DIDN'T!

darnivorous said...

This is a great post. Thank you so much for writing it.

I'm Filipino American and I can definitely relate to your experiences. I don't speak Tagalog, and when I first visited the Philippines when I was 6, I felt VERY American.

It sucks that Bloomsbury whitewashed those book covers, but it's amazing (and inspiring) how the public outcry made the company change the covers. But with Paramount, we haven't seen that kind of success or progress. I really wish we would.

http://www.facebook.com/racebending (our Fan Page)
http://www.racebending.com

Natasha Fondren said...

I think Charles is right. Although, the girl... she's arresting. I could understand them casting her in spite of being the wrong color, if only they weren't so obviously whitewashing, as you put it so well.

One thing that really annoys me about the attitudes in our country is this obsession that we all must speak English. Here we are, in the United States, one of the very few countries which does not have an official language, and instead of celebrating that freedom, we ignore it with this scathing attitude of "speak English!"

fairyhedgehog said...

That's a wonderful series of images in the video.

I'm really sorry to learn that racism is still so entrenched.

I'm glad Bloomsbury changed their cover; the second one is actually more attractive to me so their original attitude doesn't even make sense.

It sounds like Paramount is less flexible, which is a terrible shame as the film will lack texture and flavour by homogenising the culture and choosing only white actors for the roles.

Angie said...

Re: Avatar, I read recently that they had to use a body double for the boy who plays Aang, since he apparently can't do the martial arts they need. This after assuring everyone back when the whitewashing first blew up that he was Absolutely The Best Choice!! (no, really!) to play the part. Because clearly there isn't a single young Asian actor who could've played that part and done the martial arts. Right.

Also, I don't know whether you were paying attention back then, but originally Zuko was being played by a white kid too. Then after the uproar, they conveniently found that the white kid playing Zuko had a schedule conflict, so he left and they cast Dev Patel (newly famous after Slumdog Millionaire) to play the part. So now we have three white kids playing the good guys and a brown kid playing the bad guy. [facepalm] Yeah, that's so much better. At least Dev Patel is Asian, even if he's from the wrong end of a very large continent. [sigh]

Oh, and I remember some studio flack responding to the whitewashing charges by very indignantly explaining that by adding white people to the formerly all-Asian/Inuit cast, they're making the movie More Diverse.

Uh huh. :/

Angie

Andrew said...

Thanks for this post.

It reminds me how against the grain my YA novel is (CROSSING coming out on April 27). Not only is the teen protagonist male, but he is Asian. And written by an author who is also male and Asian, who refused to write about euphoric returns to the motherland, ethnic meals around the dinner table, and tortured mother-daughter relationships.

I told my publisher: if you put imagery of pandas and dragons on my cover with faux Chinese font, I will die.

So thankful for a great publisher who took a chance and designed a classy cover.

www.andrewxiafukuda.com

Lily Cate said...

Ugh. Someone needs to remind Pat Buchanan that this country was built on genocide, which we are still not addressing as a society. Why don't the white residents of the US have to "go home to France, or Germany, or England" ? Trust me, if I went to any of those places, I wouldn't feel "home" at all.

Erica Orloff said...

Great post, Ellen. My children are Mexican-American . . . I rarely see Mexican Americans depicted as anything but drug dealers and gang bangers.

Interestingly, when I wrote Diary of a Blues Goddess (biracial character), in the U.S. it was a cartoon cover, white woman. In Australia, a woman of color, real photo. I liked my Australian cover a LOT more.

Kelly said...

Well written post. I hope many read it!

Carleen Brice said...

Go Ello! I'm sad this issue is so widespread, but happy in a way that's it's not just happening with black people...if that makes any sense. We need to stick together!

Dreamstate said...

Thanks for this great post, although it makes me sad.

I'm a white 30-something female. I read over 100 books a year. And the books that move me are the ones that introduce me to characters and places UNLIKE ME. I hate that the publishing world assumes I will not buy a book with POC on it! TRY ME!

Julia Kelly said...

Publishers and producers are sooo brave in speaking engagements and conferences about the new faces of our time- and then when they get back to their office, they must get scared- when they are looking at the $$$- check out the Vanity Fair cover for February- all white, skinny actress as the face of the future!

Sherri said...

Great post, Ello. This is a problem I didn't really see until the Internet clued me in a few years ago. Then I sort of dismissed it, because it wasn't an issue for me, being white.

But when I started writing my current WIP, friends remarked on how my characters were speaking Spanish without me making a point to point out that they were Latino. They just are. That brought it to the forefront for me, and I realized there is very little of that.

We love Aang and the gang because of the Asian flavor, and it's insulting they think that using white actors with an Indian thrown in for diversity's sake makes it more likely I will see it.

Going to join that FB page.

Alissa said...

What were they thinking? I really don't get stuff like this.

A couple of weeks ago my father who I don't think of as racist, made an asinine comment and I promptly jumped down his throat. It was something to the effect that the US made a mistake in opening up the borders to people from different countries, that we should have just let in Europeans and then closed the borders. Anyway, I think my rebuttal might have been enough to convince him that he was way off base, but he's a smart, generally non-racist guy. If he can say something like that, it's pretty scary.

Sewicked said...

I'm somewhat eclectic. Sometimes I like a protagonist where I go 'omg, I _know_ her/him' ie Southern (US) & white. And sometimes I want someone completely different (I will never be Japanese, or male, or a New Yorker), because I want a taste of what I will never be & don't necessarily want to be, permanently anyway.

Would you believe that most kids' books, until recently, also ignored Southerners? How many times I ran into 'first cardinal of spring? Huh? They're year-round birds'. Silly, but as an 8-year-old that was really important.

By whitewashing this film, they have done a disservice, not just to people of color but to all the film-goers. Are they trying to tell us that they could not find even a half-dozen non-Europeans for these parts?

No disrespect to the actors, I'm sure that they're very skilled at their craft. However, seeing those lovely European faces just break that 4th wall and prevent me from enjoying the movie (I flinched all the way through Teahouse of the August Moon).

annathepiper said...

Hi, came in off of a post that linked to you elsewhere. Just wanted to say that as a white person and a big fan of the original Avatar: the Last Airbender, I am appalled at the casting choices of the movie and won't be seeing it.

A. Grey said...

I'm into Anime, so when I heard they were going to make Airbender into a live action movie, I was dubious at best. Now, I'm just disgusted. I think I'll just stick with the original Mangas and Animes.

And Martha- HAHAHAHAHAHA I thought the SAME THING when I looked at those pics. I really think (at the risk of getting hated on) that ALL white girls look like the SAME PERSON nowadays. Same hair, same layered cut, same makeup, same clothes. It's like the Real Slim Shady, Miley Syrus style. Terrifying.

And no, I don't think EVERY girl is like that. But a fact's a fact, and right now, looking a certain way seems to be 'so in'.

Lindsey Himmler said...

I think this speaks also to the popular media's belief that outside California and New York, Americans are all the same. I'm so tired of people assuming that my midwest background means I grew up on a farm and drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and vote Republican.

I want to shake publishers and movie-makers and television shows that think this is what the US wants. It's just feeding a bad cycle of ignorance.

Ulysses said...

I'm white. I'm male. I'm neither proud or ashamed of it. Why should I be? I am what I am, and nobody asked me what I wanted to be before I was. Whether you're Korean or Chinese, Innuit, Ojibwe, Punjab or Arab, the same is true. It saddens me that so many people of my ethnicity need to see the world, and want others to see the world, only in their colors.

I loved The Last Airbender cartoon. I loved it because, to my upbringing, the cultures were fresh and fascinating, the people exotic and yet their characters so familiar. To take away the ethnicity of the characters is... unforgivable.

Tere Kirkland said...

Great post, Ellen! I get so mad when I read about the narrow-mindedness and racism that's so entrenched in the publishing and movie industries.

Like how the posters of Invictus all have Matt Damon's big huge fake nose plastered all over them, instead of Morgan Freeman--who is playing Nelson freaking Mandela! Grr...

It's hard for me to put it into words, but at least consumers are starting to show that they won't put up with it. Thanks for this post.

Linguista said...

I am black, but I grew up in the Caribbean so I really didn't experience that much racism. My island is mostly racist and most British Caribbean books have black or (East) Indian characters.

But now I'm out in the wide world, and I see so much of it. I'm a writer and frankly since I'm not actually from the US, it makes me want to aim for publication in Canada or the UK, where they realise that the world is not all white.

Stuart Neville said...

Hmm. I'd been reading about this movie in Empire magazine in the UK, but I'd missed the controversy of the race issue. When you point it out, it does seem a bit ... well, ill-judged is the kindest expression I can think of at the minute.

Haven't been around here in a while, Ello, hope all is well with you.

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm with you on this. Boycott a blatantly white-washed product. Besides, the anime will still be better.

C.R. Evers said...

racism in all its forms makes me so sad. :0(

Jeni said...

I can't speak to the issues with the film -haven't seen it, probably never will unless my daughter brings home a dvd of it someday.
But the racism/bias/prejudice that exists still in this great country, this land of so many, many diverse ethnic, religious, races is just mind-boggling, to say the least.
A few years back, I had stopped in at our neighborhood pub and the bartender was doing a little rant about some ethnic group or other, and immigration -you can figure out the rest there I bet -but anyway, his big line of course was that they should all go back from whence they came and leave this country to "Real Americans." Considering the fact that almost all of us in the USA have roots to some other country somewhere along the way, I asked him then where did he plan to go if all immigrants should return to their homeland? He gave me a questioning look and asked what did I mean by that. I know his ethnic background just as I know my own. I'm from Swedish/Scottish stock and he's from Swedish/Slovak people. I told him I can't figure out if I should return to Sweden or Scotland and just wanted to know whether he would be going to Czechoslovakia or to Sweden if we all had to return to our roots.
I'm not saying that remembering ethnic background, cultures, etc. is unimportant because I believe it is something we all should remember and yes, even honor to a degree. But too, we are also supposed to be a civilized nation, that by this time, the year 2010, we should be all be able to be who/what WE are today which is American! The race, color of one's skin, slant of the eyes, other outward appearances that set some of us apart from others more than what the bigots would think of as being the "norm" in appearance should be this time of this country's being what it is, have long since disappeared but it hasn't and that's the sad part. People should not be judged by how they appear, how they speak either (although, if you're here and gonna stay, learning English isn't all that bad a thing, is it? That doesn't mean people have to forget the language of their ancestors but to accept the language of the country they now call home. Of course, to make that an acceptable idea, those who originally settled here then should have adopted the Indian Language(s) instead of forcing English on the Indians I suppose.)
Anyway, it's time that we all, regardless of background, are accepted as being a male or female and member of the human race, simply because that is what we are. Not because of skin color, eyes, lips, manner of dress or any other differences each of us might exhibit on the exterior. Inside the person, their abilities, their sensibilities, should be what matter the most to all.

beth said...

Avatar is one of my favorite TV shows ever. To see them disgrace it in the movie like this is heartbreaking.

domynoe said...

Honestly, I think it's not just a status quo thing, but a desperate attempt by whites to ignore the fact that the true minority in the U.S. is...white. They want to remain the "majority" and use media to reflect that. And they want to make other whites comfortable in a world where most the faces they see every day are of color.

captainstupendous said...

I'd say something, but Ellen has said it all as well as it can be.

~Jamie said...

Ugh, what is so frustrating about this is they've already PROVEN their audience and they didn't white wash the cartoon, so why why why would they do it to the movie?

Matt Heppe said...

I had to become a follower after reading this terrific post!

I am very upset at the film makers. My six year old daughter and I were so excited to see this film. We are huge Avatar fans. She will still want to see the film, totally unaware of the controversy. How do I tell her no in a way she'll understand? Or do we go anyway? Argh!

My wife and I are very sensitive to race issues. I am an AmeriEuroMutt while my wife was born in Korea and came to the US when she was eight. Last week our daughter asked us why princesses are all blond (after seeing The Swan Princess). I tried pointing out all the non-blondes:

Mulan (Amelia: "Not a princess")
Pocahantas (Amelia: "Not a real princess")
Belle (Wife to me: "Really? That's the best you can do?" Me: "Hey, she's got brown hair and likes books!")

Not a whole lot to choose from out there!

Lisa Hughey said...

i like to think that the generation coming up has little prejudice. my kids (who are white) have friends who are eastern indian, hispanic, black, korean, japanese, chinese, native islanders they truly are color blind and think racism is stupid.

so there is hope for the future :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

I don't get why they are white washing the cast. My kids and I have loved this cartoon since it started. We have the first two seasons on dvd and the final season is still on tivo. And we watch it a lot. I know there are Asian actors out there who probably would have jumped at the chance to be in a movie like this. And they already had a huge following from the tv show who accepted these characters as Asian. So I really don't understand why they cast white people in these roles. It makes no sense and it's sad that it happens so often.

mythicagirl said...

This kind of thing makes me both sad and mad -Great post by the way - Hopefully the message will get to Hollywood (one can only hope) that whitewashing is wrong and should be stopped.

I think that's why I decided to create my own paranormal/romance webcomics featuring a diverse racial cast. And I think I'll incorporate this latest racefail into the YA and Adult comic.

Larissa said...

This makes me want to cry. Both with sorrow and anger.

I love the Avatar series, and was super excited to hear that they were making a movie...and now they ruined it.

Boo, Paramount. Bigtime.

jjdebenedictis said...

I heard about this a while ago and was frothing mad about it then.

My ire has not diminished with time.

Ello said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. From many of the responses, it looks like many of you didn't know what was happening and that is exactly why I wanted to post about it. Thank you all for help spreading the word. It means a lot to me.

Girl with One Eye said...

This is so frustrating because here I was excited to take my son to see this film and now, I just can't. I can't support the lack of asian actors. And more importantly, I, because I'm white will probably be thrown into a class of people who by making these decisions give white people a bad name. Thanks for writing such a beautiful post. I wish more people would open their eyes...or better yet, close them and judge a person by their character.

Peter Cooper said...

Unfortunately, this kind of stupidity isn’t restricted to America. Here in Australia we have a popular hospital drama called All Saints, a bit like ER. There isn't a single non-white face in it, not one, and there hasn't been in the seven or eight years it's been running. As somebody so eloquently put in one of our local newspapers, if you wake up in a hospital without Asian doctors and nurses, you're not in a hospital, you're in a bad soap-opera.

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

When I heard that Paramount was making a movie version and had hired M. Night Shyamalan to direct, I was excited. But then I saw the cast list and I felt punched in the gut.

THIS. When I saw the casting I thought my heart was going to break. And it hurts that much more because I love this show. So. Much.

And yay to more calling out on whitewashing. Its practice is unacceptable and should cease to be tolerated.

Cacy said...

My family and friend are so very tired of hearng me complain about this. The weekend I learned of the casting I was honestly angry for like two days straight. what really made me mad was to think how often do really cool, non-typical roles come along for Asian and especially Inuit/Native American actors in major American blockbusters? Well, I guess this is just one more opportunity they won't have have. Anyway, I wanted to respond to this paragraph:

"Unfortunately, some people have responded with the fact that since these are anime characters drawn with the big freaky anime eyes, that they couldn't possibly be Asian. That because this is an American production, these characters are in fact white. I have no argument for this but one."

I'd like to put that argument into words, and maybe add my two cents on top of that.

Anime eyes: So if one is watching a straight from Japan anime that takes place in Japan and the characters have Japaness names, but they have freakish anime eyes, are those characters subjected to being portrayed by white actors?

The co-creators, while white, put so much research into drawing meaningful inspiration from the Asian cultures that it takes the use of the anime style to another level than just mimicking a trend.
Because there are American shows that use the anime style but the characters are obviously white and if not it's fairly obvious who is what race (Totally Spies, W.I.T.C.H. are two examples). The adaptation and incorporation of Asian cultures into every detail of Avatar was so well done that most veiwers, I'm sure, assumed the characters were all Asian. Because following logic, it's kinda just what makes sense.

And why because something is an American production can't something have an all non-white cast. The producers of "Dream Girls" were white (at least the one's they showed on the HBO special when the movie came out) and yet they mananged to pull together an all Black cast and the movie was a huge success. "Memoirs of a Geisha" was written, directed and produced by a bunch of white guy and yet they managed to pull together an all Asian cast as well, which leads me to a response I've gotten to my tirade a couple of times.

Maybe they couldn't find enough or good Asian actors, someone has suggested to me.

Are you kidding? Asians make up something like 60% of the world's population. Eeven if you subtract the India from figure, you're still left with over 40% percent of the world's population.) Also Los Angeles (where Hollywood casting directors live) has a large Asian community. I'm sure there are a couple of Asian actors among them, not to mention those folks that come to L.A. from around the country and around the around the world looking for a shot like this. If the casting directors seriously couldn't find a handful of Asian actors, they weren't looking.

I'm not Asian or Inuit, but I don't think you have to be to find this upsetting (but when I heard on the rumor mill that M. Night intially wanted to cast Jesse McCartney for the role of Zuko (which is the most important casting decision to make considering Zuko has the biggest character arch to follow) I knew this film was doomed.

As a Black writer, I'm definately not paying money to see this.

I do wonder, has anyone heard if the creators of the show have said anything about this. I figure not since it would be bad PR, but if anyone has can you post the link?

Thank you for letting me tirade.

Madame Lefty said...

I don't have much to say, because I'm just all around disgusted.

I did post a link to this entry at my blog, because it was something I wouldn't want people to miss.

Tawna Fenske said...

Beautiful post, and so thought provoking. I'll admit I was a little naive about this whitewashing epidemic, but recent blog posts by Kristin Nelson and Moonrat have opened my eyes. I'm so happy that the issue is getting more attention now, and I'll try to do my part to spread the word (and the outrage). Thank you for writing this!

Tawna

Nandini said...

So sad ... I LOVED the TV series. I followed the casting controversy a while ago, and hoped they were going to make more changes. But it doesn't like that happened. UGH!! I cannot imagine Aang as anything but Asian!!!

Nandini said...

Ellen,
Did you know they cast a Korean American kid, Isaac Jin Solstein, as Haru? He's so cute! Why couldn't they have cast him as Aang?! ARRGH!!

Stephanie H. said...

Well said, Ello!

Jaleh D said...

I really need to start paying more attention to some of these issues with movie casting and book covers and stories. Until the blogs I follow started commenting on them, I hadn't really noticed. Having been raised to believe in equality, I'm a bit disappointed in myself for my lack of awareness. I also really need to expand my reading selection more often.

At least my son is learning to appreciate diversity when he can. My mom's best friend has a grandson of mixed ethnicity. I used to babysit on occasion. It was a beautiful thing to see two boys so close in age, one fair and one tan, playing together. My son's "best friend." There is something magical from hearing that phrase spontaneously spoken by a preschool aged child, especially when diversity is involved. It's been months since we moved, but he still misses his best friend. He was super excited when we got to go visit a couple months ago.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Can you say Klingon? When I first saw Worf, I thought, finally, good roles for dark skinned actors. Not so. They used a ton of makeup on mostly white guys.

Could you imagine Mulan with white actors? I can't. Have we not improved a bit since the Kung Fu days when Bruce Lee was passed over as the lead when it was his idea for the TV show?

We need a Hollywood Shuffle for Asians. If one exists, please let me know - I love that movie.

Aniket said...

All has been said in the above comments. I was said that Toph wasn't one of the characters in the movie. Now, I'm kinda glad. I love Toph, and don't want that image to change. Whenever they try and make a movie out of an anime they suck, real bad.

I just pray they never attempt such a thing on Naruto, Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist or Hunter X Hunter.

Mulan and Death Note are only 2 reasonably well made movies on anime and they both have asian characters. Go figure.

Aerliss said...

Lily Cate: We don't want them!

*cough*

Aniket; Weren't the Death Note movies made in Japan, by Japanese people?

Eventually decisions like this are going to come back and bite studios in the butt. Clearly they know this because they keep backing down.

I don't even think they're doing it totally consciously... surely they'd, you know, have learnt by now?

Bethany Wiggins said...

Wow. Thanks for opening my eyes. Your post is beautiful and heart-wrenching all in one.

susan said...

Hey Ellen,

You know how I feel. Called for a boycott and then I created Readers Against WhiteWashing.

I very limited access during the week. That's the only reason I'm just getting here.

Do encourage your readers to join us at RAWW.

I'm posting your link now and it'll run on Monday for Little Lov'n Monday at BES.

susan said...

Lisa,

Color blind is not a compliment and not something I want to aspire to. I'm fine with you being white, Asian, Green or Blue.

I'm quite happy being black. Please see me as a black person. Do we have to not see race to accept each other?

Saying you're color blind makes as much sense as not seeing my gender.

Whirlochre said...

That's bizarre.

laughingwolf said...

i stand with you, el... it's plain ignorance and stupidity that drive these fools who 'can't see for looking'! GRRRRRRR

TechnoBabe said...

The people with power who decide who matters more or who is worth listening to are ignorant. I refuse to believe that there are more people who are racist and prejudiced than the rest of us in this country. I don't have children at home any more but I have hope that the next generations will embrace the diversity and show more respect than my generation.

Boston said...

Similar complaints about racebending were made about the 21 blackjack movie starring Kevin Spacey

http://www.8asians.com/2008/04/01/the-mit-tech-movie-21-discriminatory-casting-unjustified/

http://tech.mit.edu/V128/N15/21casting.html

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