Thursday, June 24, 2010

Avatar: The Last Airbender boycott

"We want to support The Last Airbender film, but we cannot in good conscience support a production that systematically excludes people of color from heroic roles."

'The Last Airbender' (2010) is a live-action Paramount film directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It is based on a popular cartoon called 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' on Nickelodeon. The world of 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' was heavily inspired by Asian and Inuit cultures, and championed by Asian and Inuit heroes.

For children, the animated series was an opportunity to witness heroes and heroines of color – an opportunity that enriched all of us, regardless of ethnicity. With the live-action film adaptation, that opportunity was lost.


'The Last Airbender' cast white actors to portray Asian/Inuit heroes, the latest example of Caucasians playing Asians (e.g., '21', 'Dragonball Evolution', 'Kung Fu', and more).

Paramount's choices have taken the film away from the integrity and dedication to cultural accuracy that fans respected in the original animated series.

Did they find the best actors? Initial casting calls for the principal roles clearly indicated a preference by using the wording, "Caucasian or any other ethnicity."
This preference was not seen when casting for background actors which sought "authentic Asians." Relegating actors of color to unnamed featured characters, villains and background extras perpetuates Hollywood's glass ceiling.

The most important color in Hollywood is green. Paramount, or any other production company, should NOT PROFIT from such discriminatory casting practices.


1. Do NOT pay to see this film in theaters. This is most important.*

2. Tell your friends and family that you're boycotting the film and why. Discourage them from watching the film if you can.

3. Do NOT endorse or purchase any promotional products connected to the film (e.g., action figures, Happy Meals, novelizations, video games, etc.).

4. DO endorse products connected to the original animated series (e.g., series DVDs, toys, artbooks, etc.).

* If you do nothing else, please DO NOT PAY to see this film in theaters. Box office figures are the biggest indicator of a film's success or failure. If you really, and I mean REALLY want to see it, wait a couple of months to rent it on DVD. Or better yet wait til it's On Demand; the idea is to only give them cents instead of dollars if any money at all.


This is not the first instance of racebending in film, nor will it be the last. 'The Last Airbender' is the biggest and most recent example. We ultimately want to end the practice of yellowfacing, whitewashing, and racebending in the media.

Now is the time to make your voice heard.


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