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The Blog of Gene Luen Yang - The Last Airbender Opens At Midnight
The Last Airbender Opens At Midnight 
Given the avalanche of horrifically bad reviews this movie has already been getting, arguing against its use of yellowface feels a bit like trying to beat a bag of hair at Scrabble. Most people are going to boycott it because of its suckitude rather than its racebending.

I do want to make one point, though. Director M. Night Shyamalan claims that The Last Airbender is "the most diverse tentpole movie ever." Pleeease. Having your Caucasian-playing-Inuit protagonists deliver exposition against a background of actual Inuits does not make your movie diverse. It makes your movie a modern-day equivalent of Charlie Chan.

I have to say, if The Last Airbender weren't the modern-day equivalent of Charlie Chan, I would've gone to see it despite the reviews, if only in the hopes that the sequels would be greenlit. As things stand now, the only hopes I have are for its carcass to serve as a warning against racebending in future American films. After all, nothing says blockbuster like accusations of racism.

All right. In the words of that great philosopher Stan Lee: 'Nuff said!



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David 
I can't stop giggling. I really can't.

"...a bit like trying to beat a bag of hair at Scrabble."

OMG that's brilliant!!

I've got to use that someday in conversation. I've just got to.

Re the actual post apart from that, yep, total agreement here. From what I've seen I am eager to see the Avatar animated series in its entirety, but definitely don't want to see this movie. I've read (on racebending.com) that the creators of the series did not have control over the film and might have done things differently if they were able to.

But, oh, man, ROTFLMAO at that line... :)

Administrator (Gene Yang) 
Thanks, everyone, for visiting and taking the time to share your thoughts.

MW21-- I'm not gonna see the movie ever, so I can't comment on specific scenes, but using people of color as the background isn't really what we're going for. The point is, Asian American actors were kept from a role that was logically theirs because of the color of their skin. It doesn't matter if they were allowed to stand in the back while the main characters were talking. There was still discrimination.

Rona -- thanks so much for reading ABC! I'm glad you liked it!

Dani Atkinson 
I know what you mean. The last Ninja Turtles movie was awful, I mean really, really bad, but I still went to see it and don't regret spending money on it because goddamn I was in a theatre watching a Ninja Turtles movie. I was surrounded by people my age who were fans of the eighties cartoon, and little kids who were fans of the new cartoon. And we were all there to see a Ninja Turtles movie.

I might not have cared if The Last Airbender were BAD if it were not also WRONG. I probably would have taken a chance and seen it anyway, in the hopes that maybe the critics were mistaken. And for the sake of the experience of being in a movie theatre with other fans, watching an Avatar: The Last Airbender movie, together. But the filmmakers hurt and alienated everyone I might have wanted to share that experience with.

Mw21 
I understand why your all bent up about it(no pun intended) just race is not why it was a bad film, bad editing(BIG TIME), acting, and writing(why did they put this guy behind a typewriter?!) is. It was actually a diverse film since we get shots of Africans and East Asians representing the Earth Kingdom, Indian and Mediterranians as the Fire Nation(and don't give me that "colored coded races" bull i've been hearing so far in reviews. how is it that entire nations wardrobes are the same color scheme like some sort of secret fashion police are enforcing it?) and why Katara and Sokka are caucasian is justfied with the fact the Northern Water Tribe is predomimently Northern European and they are of descent from there. The race changes geographically do make more sense than a homogenous world of mongoloids. In short, I'm more disappointed it was a crappy and poorly made film than anything else.

PS
LOL funny Aang pic

Michael Buntag 
I'm a bit less optimistic about the film's critical and possible box office failure changing Hollywood's attitudes. My guess is that the studio will see this as just one more mediocre blockbuster project that failed, regardless of the controversy surrounding it. If anything Shyamalan will be set up as the fall guy for the movie's failure. Not that he doesn't deserve some of the blame.

Scott Bieser 
When I pledged to Derek Kim that I wouldn't see this movie, I felt a twinge of regret because I loved the animated series so much, and hated to miss what I thought would be a pretty good movie.

Now that I'm hearing the movie is a bomb, I'm relieved that I'm not really sacrificing much after all, but still regret the ruined opportunity that this situation represents.

raz 
Well Dev Patel (from Slumdog Millionaire) is in the movie I guess that according to Shyamalan counts as diverse.

Rona 
I just finished reading 'American Born Chinese' with my husband (who's ABC, I'm Fil-Am) and I LOVED it!

Also, can't believe (well, actually I can) that Shyamalan actually said Airbender was 'diverse'! That guy is living in a dreamworld of his own creation. It's kinda sad.

Thanks for the post on Airbender! I won't be seeing the movie for many reasons, racebending being the biggest.

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