another good piece on racist casting of the last airbender

I saw The Last Airbender last night. I'm still collecting my thoughts, and will post something resembling a review later in the day, but I just wanted to share this article that Roger Ebert posted on his Twitter, calling it "the best writing I've seen on the racist casting of The Last Airbender: FacePainting.
Indian-American director M. Night Shyamalan has consistently defended the movie as "diverse" much in the same vein of Paramount's assertions, citing that the production team took careful means to create a film rich in Asian culture and aesthetics – and like the studio, not once has he addressed the bigger issue at hand, that White actors have been favored over Asian actors to play Asian characters.

He completely misses the point about ethnic and racial diversity: dress it up all you want, but at the end of the day it's Yellowface all over again. It's an insult to assume that Asians and Asian Americans will be ok with White actors once again taking on the starring roles that are Asian archetypes, and worse that Shyamalan seems peachy keen on the whole premise.

Shyamalan has even stated that he desired to work with Nicola Peltz, the Caucasian actress slated to play the water bender Katara. This statement highlights my other postulate the Shyamalan is not a dumbfounded, overridden director force fed to direct a Yellowface film – that instead he obviously had a say in who he wanted casted, that he fully endorse White actors over Asian actors to play the main parts.

Was he bought? Is he oblivious to the institutionalized racism he's endorsing? Or is it a bit of both? Whatever the reason, it's clear Shyamalan is in love with his cinematic vision despite the social implications at hand, and for that I've lost all respect for him, especially considering that he himself is a minority director and would presumably empathize with minority actors barred from acting roles due to Hollywood's underlying racial assumptions. As of now, this director is unredeemable – in screenwriting, in career, and in a self-indulgent streak that ignores world issues for his own self-fulfillment. This is simply shameless.
I have to agree with this assessment -- it doesn't seem like Shyamalan has "sold out." Rather, he's completely oblivious to the larger issues at hand with this movie. Anyway, it's a well-written, thoughtful piece that you should forward to anyone who has a hard time grasping what the fuss over this movie is all about. Read the full post by Q. Le here.

UPDATE: I have to add Roger Ebert's scathing review of The Last Airbender, which has no love for the movie. Here's the opening paragraph:
The Last Airbender" is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.
He gives it half a star. It's a highly enjoyable read from beginning to end: THE LAST AIRBENDER.

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