Tag Archives: Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Christian Paranoia Industrial Complex

Disneys Mulan came out when I was 12, and youd better believe I was excited about it. I was the girl who reacted to dresses and stockings with outrage and got big heart eyes at the sight of swords, so a girl dressing up as a guy and going to war was exactly my jam. Shortly after watching it, I remember climbing on a playground after church with a friend, while my brothers and I quoted the funny parts at each other. I asked her if shed seen it yet.

No…” she replied. I heard it promotes ancestor worship and stuff.

This caught me up.  Yes, in the movie Mulan prays to her ancestors for help and protection, and in true Disney fashion, the ghostly ancestors are seen discussing her plight.  12-year-old-me wasnt sure how to respond.  It didbut it hadnt occurred to me that it did.

I guess…” I said.  Kind of.

I’ll convert for the parties.

I found myself thinking about this exchange recently, while my husband and I watched through Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix.  I realize we are WAY behind the times, but wow did we enjoy it, despite neither of us really being anime fans.  It was such a great story, with excellent characters, and it was deeply refreshing to see a fantasy series that wasnt set in pseudo-medieval or pseudo-viking times.  The show also depicts a variety of ethnicities and cultures, most of which are based on eastern civilizations.  Its great.

Of course, there are references to various elements of eastern spiritualitiesreincarnation, qi energy, a spirit world, and featuring heavily in one episode of season two and recurrently through season three chakras.  

During that chakra-heavy episode, I couldnt help but hear my friends voice NoI heard it promotes eastern mysticism. Continue reading

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Fame Day: Racebending.com

This Thursday I want to call attention to a website that’s been in this blog’s links-sidebar basically since its inception. I came across Racebending.com around the time it began, and their stance on equality casting and representation in the media is one of the many reasons I decided it was time to start writing more about what I thought mattered.

As their name might suggest, the site came about as a response to M. Night Shyamalan’s film adaptation of the Nickelodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender. The entirety of the series was set in a distinctly Asian-inspired universe, and the casting decision was made to have the majority of the protagonists be played by Caucasian actors. The change is starkly apparent in the image below:

And for those of you who don’t think Zuko is a villain, click on the link for a thorough explanation.

The organization did a great amount in revealing the decisions that went into the making of the film. Most importantly was their breakdown of the casting calls that read “Caucasian or any other ethnicity,” and how the language affects those who apply for the roles as well as hinting at what they are looking for. They also exposed the blatant racism used by casting director Deedee Rickets, who was quoted as answering the question “Are you at a disadvantage if you didn’t wear a costume?” with the following:

Absolutely not! It doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage if you didn’t come in a big African thing. But guys, even if you came with a scarf today, put it over your head so you’ll look like a Ukrainian villager or whatever.

Although the movement was not enough to sway the studio, producers, or director of the film, the site stays up, continuing to work towards educating the internet on when and where whitewashing is taking place, and what people can do to stop it. They also take care to call attention to those who are advancing the role of minorities in the media, giving credit where it’s due.

Most recently the blog has been concentrating on the upcoming film Cloud Atlas, which stands out due to its use of “yellowface” by various actors. While the directing Wachowski siblings and others have cited the theme of reincarnation and  the fact that actors of colour will also be playing White roles, media liaison Mike Le lays out the stark difference between the two. In an interview with  the radio station Vocalo 89.5 he explains the tradition of yellowface in cinema as a means of controlling the perceptions of a race, and the damage it has done and can still do.

All in all, Racebending.com is run by people who are doing good things, and who care about representation whether it be based on race, gender, or orientation. They strive to see the media reflect the immense amount of diversity in our world, and that alone should be worth checking them out.