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Colorblind Enough to Erase us

June 25, 2010

M. Night Shyamalan babbles some defensive babble about people pointing out the whitewashing of Avatar the Last Airbender.

M. Night seems unable to parse the criticism, “All the heroes are cast as white, all the villains are cast as brown. Hollywood has a history of making POC = evil. This is bad.”, with, literally, “POC = evil”:

The irony is that I’m playing on the exact prejudices that the people who are claiming I’m racist are doing. They immediately assume that everyone with dark skin is a villain. That was an incredibly racist assumption which as it turns out is completely incorrect.

Given that film school puts you through a lot of media theory, we either have to believe he failed and completely was unable to comprehend his classes OR that he’s not being entirely honest about facing the criticism.

What happened was, Noah Ringer walked in the door – and there was no other human being on the planet that could play Aang except for this kid. To me, he felt mixed race with an Asian quality to him. I made all the Air nomads mixed race – some of them are Hispanic, some of them are Korean. Every monk you see in a flashback, in that world, are all mixed race because they’re nomadic.

Hey, guess what? Tibet is between several major cultures. If you look at the people, they share some features with many of those peoples as well!

You’re coming at me, the one Asian filmmaker who has the right to cast anybody I want, and I’m casting this entire movie in this color blind way where everyone is represented.

Strange, for a colorblind casting, that 75% of the leads are not people of color. Also, what’s up with “right to cast anybody I want”? No one seems to have taken away his right to cast whomever, this is a plea to get a pass. Sorry M. Night, brown people can promote white supremacy too!

I even had one section of the Earth kingdom as African American, which obviously isn’t in the show, but I wanted to represent them, too!

Oh! I’m sorry! I should have magically intuited what you did not actually do, but wishfully wished for, and given you appropriate credit! Hey, I just imagined I wrote 10 scripts for your next movies, I really wanted to, but I didn’t get a chance, will you be sending a check for that?

And here’s the irony of it, this has nothing to do with the studio system. I had complete say in casting. So if you need to point the racist finger, point it at me, and if it doesn’t stick, then be quiet.

Yes we’re pointing. Guess what? We’re not being quiet. I think it’s sticking.

The art form of Anime in and of itself is what’s causing the confusion. The Anime artists intentionally put ambiguous features on the characters so that you see who you want to see in it…. If there’s an issue with why Anime does not put particularly specific Asian features from the PC Asian types that people think should be there … take it up with Anime animators. It has nothing to do with me.’

This is like saying Snow White or Cindarella looks like whomever you want to see in it. How about Dora the Explorer? Don’t pass the buck, M. Night. It’d be better off for you to say nothing than to lie so terribly.

Stop using the word “irony”. There is nothing ironic in a long history of whitewashing asians out of asian roles in American produced films. There is nothing ironic in relegating people of color to being extras and villains. There is nothing ironic in perpetuating nearly a century of film propaganda, that still, to this day, impacts people’s daily lives.

There has never been anything ironic about white supremacy, and that you, a brown man, are supporting it?

Not ironic, only sad.

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