[MA-SOC] Craptastic casting (was Re: OMG #2: Shyamalan'slive-action AVATAR: THE LASTAIRBENDER)

Klara Wahlster kgw216 at nyu.edu
Fri Jan 30 15:57:58 EST 2009

Frankly, yes, you still can. Avatar doesn't take place IN KOREA, or IN CHINA, but rather in the fictional Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation respectively. And the show also clearly takes place in an enviroment both geographically and historically ficticous as Tolkien's Middle Earth. I am *not* arguing that these places aren't heavily and obviously influenced by specific cultures.

One of my friend's brothers was a storyboard artist for the show, part of the fairly incestual Viacom pool, and I've had this argument with him too. You may have created a character to be as Korean as possible, but unless they're from Korea, they are NOT Korean.

Show me one official publication stating that these characters ARE certain nationalities instead of simply being based off others, and I will shut the hell up.

I feel like I need to repeat myself on this next point, but this does not interfere with my understanding of why the letter writing campaign is a good idea, nor do I disagree that Avatar would be truer to form if certain minority actors were used.

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-----Original Message-----
From: "J.Q." <negativeq at yahoo.com>

Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 11:53:58 
To: Metro Anime New York City--social list<ma-nyc-soc at lists.baka.org>
Subject: Re: [MA-SOC] Craptastic casting (was Re: OMG #2: Shyamalan's

I have watched ALL of Avatar, I know the person behind Aang Aint White on LJ. This person has also worked on Avatar directly at Nickelodeon. So I have confirmation:

 The Fire Nation and the majority of the Earth Kingdom ARE CHINESE. They represent different regions of China. Even though the map of their world is not ours, there is still clear evidence that the people are Chinese. Such as the writing - every example of writing used on the show is in Chinese characters. The writing is authentic - fans have translated the text. The names of the characters from those regions are Chinese - Mei, Li, etc. The clothing is traditional Chinese. Groups can be recognized as Han and Mongol. They eat with chopsticks. The building and furniture are Chinese.

 There is an island called Kyoshi, which is clearly the Japan-analog - once again, the names and culture all match for what you would expect of historical Japan.

 There is a section of the Earth Kingdom that is Korean - down to names, attire, etc. Notice a pattern here?

 Katara and Sokka, the Water Tribe siblings are intended to be Inuit - the creators outright said so. 

 And for Aang himself, he is Tibetan.

 There is not a single non-Asian looking character on the show. These characters look more Asian than most anime characters. There are no blondes. Only Water Tribe have blue eyes (which is seen as odd). The closest to a Caucasian appearing character is Tai Lee, and that is because she has wide eyes.

 Their religions are based off Asian ones - Shinto, Buddhism, Hinduism. Nothing Judeo-Christian here at all.

 So in summary, the reason why fans are so pissed off is because the setting, culture, and appearance of the show is completely, utterly, undeniably Asian. You can't even pretend it is a fantasy land with some Asian elements tossed in - which you can do with DBZ.

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