the last airbender: an "ancient, fantastical asian environment, primarily chinese"

An update on The Last Airbender situation... As you know probably know, Paramount Pictures has been hard at work on a live-action feature adaptation of the hit Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, due out next year (and not to be confused with the upcoming James Cameron sci-fi epic, Avatar).

Unfortunately, in Hollywood's version of the Asian-inspired fantasy world of The Last Airbender, the starring cast just happens to be mostly Caucasian. This announcement did not go over well with fans, igniting an organized movement protesting the practice of whitewashing characters in Hollywood cinema.

Leading the charge: Racebending.com, sort of the online center of outcry over The Last Airbender's casting practices. The recently revamped site has also taken on the cause of challenging casting of white actor David Henrie as an Asian American character in the movie adaptation of The Weapon.

They've also produced some Racebending t-shirts, hot off the press and available from Blacklava, so you can protest The Last Airbender in style. At the very least, they're a great conversation-starter about the issue. Proceeds from t-shirt sales will go towards funding the Racebendin movement.

But here's the really interesting piece of news... Racebending recently came into the possession of a couple of pages of the "show bible" for Avatar: The Last Airbender -- used to establish continuity, setting, character histories, the 'rules' of the world and other details -- restricted to the people who worked on the animated series.

If you take a look at the document, you'll see that if firmly establishes what fans of the show already knew: Avatar was established as set in an "ancient, fantastical Asian environment, primarily Chinese." Shouldn't the casting of the live-action movie reflect that? Not according to Hollywood. Take a look at the 9-page excerpt here (PDF).

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