27 March 2009

Books I love; movie casting I don't

Wil Wheaton has been posting about books he loves on his blog, and I thought that sounded like a fun thing to do. So I'll start with mine in the next few days or weeks, because I want to read them again so they're fresh in my mind and I can explain better why I love them, rather than just gushing about how amazing they are. I think the first will be Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, because, damn, I love that book. (Of course, picking it up will most likely result in the voracious consumption of every other Miles book, because they're sort of like that, to the detriment of my backlog of never-read books on my shelf.)

Back in December, I made a couple posts about the misguided, ill-conceived casting of the Avatar: the Last Airbender movie. ATLA is a damn good show, and I love it to pieces. However, I don't love the movie.

Filming has begun in Greenland, where I'm assuming they're doing Water Tribe scenes. This lovely photoessay depicts the Inuit culture, on which the Water Tribe was based. (See this photoessay for actual screenshots of the show and compare.) Take a good look at the kids they hired to play the people in those pictures. Tell me that there are no Asian or Pacific Islander or Native American/First Peoples actors in the entire United States & Canada who could fill these roles. Go ahead.

I think MANAA and East West Players would vigorously object. Reportedly, the casting calls read "Caucasian or any other ethnicity." If Hollywood were interested in casting Asian actors in this film, the call would have read "Asian or any other ethnicity." Once again, Hollywood defaults to "white."

By casting white actors in roles based on a variety of Asian cultures, Hollywood is saying once again that cultural appropriation and yellowface are OK.

MANAA has a blog, where they discuss portrayals of Asians in the media and popular culture.

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