the white cast of avatar: the last airbender

More white people as cartoons! We heard a few years back that director M. Night Shymalan was working on a live-action version of the hit Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Now, we get word that the principal roles have been cast... and surprise, suprise! All the actors are white: First Look: The Cast of The Last Airbender.

Newcomer Noah Ringer will star as Aang, Jackson Rathbone as Sokka, Nicola Peltz as Katara... and Jesse McCartney as the evil prince Zuko! Suprise! All these characters, who everyone just kind of assumed were Asian, are actually Caucasian. That's Hollywood, baby. The movie is set to open in summer 2010.

The show is set in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation, following the adventures of the hero Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating the Fire Lord and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.

Okay, so you can't definitively argue that anyone on Avatar's anime-inspired fantasy realm is actually "Asian." But all signs certainly point there. I never really watched show, but I always assumed those were Asian kids doing the martial arts. I'm willing to bet if you showed the cartoon to anyone, it's likely they'd come to the same conclusion.

I suppose we shouldn't really be surprised. It's just another example of the way Hollywood squashes race out of everything it does, including Asians only when it's convenient. Why bother casting Asians for Airbender when you've got so many good-looking white kids to put on the poster?

Besides, it's not like Asians are lacking opportunities in Hollywood. It's not like we want those leading roles, right? There will always be work playing Chinese delivery boys, liquor store clerks, nail salon workers and Asian gangster thugs number 1 through 6. Thanks again, Hollywood!

UPDATE: No one should really be surprised that there are a significant number of Avatar fans out there, and they are not happy about this casting news. They've started a letter-writing campaign directed at Paramount and the powers that be to protest these decisions. It probably won't amount to much, but who knows? At the very least, it will send the message that there are a lot of people who aren't cool with business as usual. Details here: Saving the World With Postage.

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