Tweenage Wasteland


This article was written on 16 Dec 2008, and is filled under other tween shows, this is my angry face.

Avatar: The White Airbender?

So there’s this show you might have heard of? It’s called Avatar: The Last Airbender? Kids saving the world? Only our favorite thing ever?

Anyhoodle, the show ended recently, but they’re making a live-action movie, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Cool! Except maybe not, because check out the first look at the cast.

Now, if you’re not familiar with the show, you might not see the problem with this (well, if you’re a regular at this blog, I assume you see the problem with giving work to Jesse McCartney at all, but that’s not my point at the moment). So I’ve prepared some visual aids. Check out the main characters, opening shot of the title sequence, combat styles, traditional dress, spirit animals, architecture, and cuisine. Does any of that look white/European/Western to you?

Now look at that cast again. Boy, they sure are white!

Avatar is set in a fantasy world that is heavily influenced by Asian and Inuit culture. It was meticulously researched and arose from the great love and respect the creators had for Asian and Inuit cultures. This makes the offensive whitewashing of the movie a slap in the face to everyone who was looking forward to seeing a diverse, all-POC cast in a major motion picture aimed at children.

I am certainly not the most educated person on this matter, but since this blog has readers who follow tween and kid culture and watch Nickelodeon (and since we have, unfortunately, mentioned Jesse McCartney), I felt like it was important to spread the word here. If you’re interested in reading some of the common arguments and questions, check out this post by Glockgal; if you’re interested in learning what you can do about this, check out aang_aint_white. You can bet your sweet bippy that I will personally be writing a letter or two about this.

(The upside of all of this? I started watching the show, and HOLY SWEET MONKEYS it’s good. I’m only a handful of episodes in, though, so if you’re a fan please do not spoil me, or I shall weep forever.)

Images are all from AvatarSpirit.Net.

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One Comment

  1. Sophie
    September 8, 2009

    No comments? How sad, considering this is the post that tuned me in to The Last Airbender's racefail. After learning about the controversy and talking to my sister about it a bit, we decided to rent Avatar and see what it was all about. Now my whole family is in love with the show, and my sister and I have been trying to do our part in spreading the word about the whitewashing of the movie.

    Learning about the controversy has also made me more aware of my white privilege and helped me learn more about racism in Hollywood.

    I realize this post is pretty old, but I really just wanted to say thanks.

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