The Last Airbender opens this weekend, and has one of the worst Rotten Tomatoes scores that I’ve seen yet. Right now it’s hovering around 7-9% (Currently it’s at 9, but it was at 7 yesterday). To put this in reference, Twilight’s Eclipe is at 50%. And that’s a movie that is only getting slack from reviewers because they know that it will appeal to its fanbase and it’s fanbase only.
“Avatar” was a phenomenon for Nickelodeon. They found themselves with a series that appealed to both children and adults, one that was both humorous and epic. Not only that, it was a coup for the Asian community. While “Avatar” is not set in our world, it is clearly one that was created with its roots in Eastern philosophies, cultures and myths. The Entertainment industry mostly overlooks the Asian community, focusing on African-American or Hispanic families when given the chance. Asian characters are usually relegated to stereotypes and any compelling story with Asian actors is likely a foreign film imported to the US (Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, or House of Flying Daggers).
So many were hopeful for the movie, which would be the first Western blockbuster that could do it right. (Dragonball: Evolution didn’t cast Asian actors with the exception of Chow Yun Fat, who was of course relegated to the mentor role) Fans began to worry about M. Night Shyamalan, fearing that he would bring the visually and emotionally dark tone (that his films have (he did). Then the casting calls began to leak. They weren’t looking for Asian actors for any of the tribes, with the exception of the Fire tribe. What had been an Asian cast was now predominantly white. Groups were concerned, as South East Asian actors were cast as the villians. Which might seem to some as overreacting- but typically, white characters are the heroes, while minorities find themselves as villains or sidekicks. They even dubbed it “racebending.”( Read the rest of this entry » )