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The Last Airbender's Target Audience Thinks Whitewashing Is Wrong, Too

The Last Airbender’s Target Audience Thinks Whitewashing Is Wrong, Too

I wish that M. Night would read this moving essay by a young Chinese American adoptee about how the whitewashing of The Last Airbender made her feel as both a fan of the show and as an Asian person. I wish he would read it and have to respond to her in person.

Avatar is important to me because it shows that Asians can be leaders and heroes as well as white people. I was born in China, and I like to watch something about Asian and Inuit culture because usually at school we don’t get to read about these cultures. It feels really good to see something about my birth culture along with other Asian and Inuit cultures so I can learn about them too. It feels important to me that there’s a series that doesn’t have stereotypes about Asian people.

I felt sad when I heard that the main characters in the movie were going to be played by white actors. I was crestfallen about that because I thought it showed a message that only white people could be heroes while the TV series says the exact opposite. I thought the movie wouldn’t look at all like the original Airbender series because white people would play the main roles and it wouldn’t be believable for me. I felt sad, insulted and furious all at the same time!

…it’s horrible to treat us like dirty laundry that needs to get bleached. We are human beings just like everybody else.

Sing it, sister.

Hat Tip: Racebending

10 comments to The Last Airbender’s Target Audience Thinks Whitewashing Is Wrong, Too

  • John

    Even ten and a half year olds can tell why Whitewashing is wrong.

  • Anda

    I throughly enjoyed the animated Avatar series.

    I’m a white.

    I didn’t (and WON’T!) see the Avatar movie, because the characters suddenly being white looks totally wrong to me. Even though they’re now the same “race” as me, I’m so used to the characters being the fantasy equvalent of inuit/chinese/korean/japanese etc. that seeing them suddenly white-washed for the big screen is a serious squick-factor.

    The world is diverse, and that’s what makes it beautiful.

    We want variety when it comes to ice-cream flavours, so we constantly invent new ones…but when it comes to people, suddenly we try to reduce the variety to just one? WTF?

  • steph

    I’m a 12 year old, PROUD chinese-canadien and i know this is wrong joust because we don’t look like whites dosn’t mean we don’t have feelings heck they had over 3 BILLION asians to choose from and yet it is a white wash

  • sarah

    I am Black and i was really annoyed too. i prefered the characters to be asian and whats on big screen is a total disappointment. WTF man!!! this is F wrong

  • thaddeus

    Whitewashing happens because this is the singular hope of “white” people, a world free of “minorities”, a thinly veiled genocidal fantasy, the fear of amalgamation in a post-Jim Crow society and the hope that there can one day exist a place where their children get the best SAT scores and also don’t have to be worried about being mugged (for their well paid office jobs that is).

    I’m still deciding whether it’s ironic or just plain sad that the upset girl ABW posted up is a Chinese adoptee, a choice which, despite the preponderance of African American, Latin American and dare I say Anglo children in this very country who desperately need adoption and reprieve from abuse and hunger, remans the fashionable choice among infertile liberal americans (adoption law clearly points out this disparity and its racist underpinnings). The same sort of blood that rushes to the self righteous heads of IMF officials that tell a country they’re not-doing-it-right-let-me-just-step-right-in-to-put-your-country-in-economic-servitude, is the same blood flows through the veins of these types of adopting parents.

    It’s the sort of smug multiculturalism that uses whitewashing as a tool to constantly remind “minorities” that they shouldn’t be allowed to exist in “a perfect world”. Short of wishing that minorities could be relegated to hidden places, sometimes I feel it was never about “not being good enough”, but complete erasure, in short, death.

    • jo

      you use to many big words, im only 12

    • Ahh… I smell adoptism. Asian adoptee here. Should I go over why your adoptism sucks?

      Are you calling this smart Chinese Adoptee girl a “Twinkie,” thus her opinion invalid? You seem to be doing so and couching it in adoptism to boot. Way to go! As if she can help her adoptee status.

      Yes, it is true that international adoption tends to cater to rich white Western world folk. I can tango over this with statistics, but I think it’s more important to address your downplay of this girl’s opinion based on her adoption status. Or even question why should ABW post an interracial adoptee’s post about racial issues. Don’t even get me started.

  • jo

    THE MOVIE WAS HORRIBLE!!!!!!!!! I am no racist ( im black )but come on??? But I was mad that that the main characters are white too! Katara & Sokka look like Inuit who are of Asian decent, Aang….well i think Aang’s fines, i’m not sure if they would be able to find a better Aang. But the movie was so rished!! to was too straight on! I have seen the entire series and i continue to watch it to this day! They skipped so many things, the movie felt like it was only 35 min long when it was like 2 hours long. They didnt put the kioshi warriors in it which introduces suki, who becomes sokka’s GF and helps stop the airships and sayves Toph and Sokka from being killed on top of the airship!!!!!! They didnt show when they went to Omashu. King Bumi is so important because he is part of the order of the white lottis and they take back the earth kingdom. Aang, Sokka, and Iroh are the funniest guys in the entire series!!! Sokkka is the meat and sarcasim guy. Aang was so serious and he was frowning through most of the movie. Aang is hilarious, and Iroh is chubby & cheery but he’s kinda bland in the movie. A lot of other things made me angry too, but one that iritated me the most was Katara’s hair…………… i know u think im crazy but where were the hair loopies?????!!!!! I love the loopies….and they’re…gone!!

    thats all i have to say

    ( excuse my bad spelling, i type too fast )

  • Barb

    There is nothing wrong with objecting to the lack of minorities in this movie (and I agree with you). However, when you go on to use blanket opinions and assumptions about “white” people and mix in “Jim Crow,” throw in objections about caucasian people adopting asian orphans, etc, your behaving just as prejudiced as the people you’re complaining about. Sounds like a typical “I’m not prejudice, but . . . . .”

    People that are other than white seem to be determined to lump all white people together, point the finger at ‘them’ vs. ‘us’ and appear motivated to reach a goal of making white people feel ashamed of being white.

    I’m trying to listen and I’m trying to understand, but wading through the retoric and bashing is demotivating me. I’m beginning to think that this is the only thing that we have in common.