Gene Luen Yang: Why I Won’t Be Watching The Last Airbender Movie

I had to share this comic strip from Graphic Novelist Gene Luen Yang.  Believe it or not, I’ve never seen an episode of the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” animated series, but I hear from friends that it’s absolutely fantastic.  I will definitely be watching it soon.  In the meantime, I cannot support the film, even though I’m a fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s work.  Casting white actors to play heroes of color – characters who are Asian and Inuit – is really unfair and offensive to people of color in general.   Check out the brilliant comic below and be sure to visit Yang’s blog!

Here’s a hi-res pdf version of the comic.

5 thoughts on “Gene Luen Yang: Why I Won’t Be Watching The Last Airbender Movie

  1. Fiqah says:

    Jehanzeb, this was a great read. I happen to be a HUGE fan of the animated series, and I always read the characters as Asian. (I didn’t know Katara and Sokka were Inuit until fairly recently, but I DID know they weren’t European!) There are such obvious historical parallels and cultural similarities in the narratives of each of the Four Nations to various countries in Asia that it’s impossible to ignore. Oh, the one primary character to be played by an Asian (the wonderful Dev Patel)is Prince Zuko. The villian. SIGH.

    This is cultural appropriation at its most rihdonk. Asia without Asians? Really, Hollywood? REALLY really?

  2. The sad fact is that its hard to communicate this outrage when the majority doesn’t feel it impacts them. Maybe the best way is to spin it all as an insult against Anglos in the US – Hollywood thinks you are too stupid and race-centric to consider anyone not Anglo interesting.

  3. Tracey says:

    At first, I thought to myself: “what can be any lower than being so blantant about taking out the calligraphy and replacing it with squiggles. I mean…squiggles?” And then I read “caucasian or any other ethnicity.” Somehow, I think there may be even more fail to come. Sex and the City 2, Prince of Persia, and The Last Airbender will not even be allowed in my Netflix que. That the show has such a huge following should be a testament to white-washing everything not being necessary.

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