[MA-SOC] Craptastic casting

Oneirophile at aol.com Oneirophile at aol.com
Sat Jan 31 01:58:53 EST 2009

Angry-making indeed!  And even if racism were not an  issue -- although IMHO 
it is -- there is also the issue  of respecting one's audience by portraying 
the characters as that  audience has visualized them throughout the course of 
the animated  series.
Ever play the mental game of "fantasy casting" for a  live-action version of 
your fav anime.... even if there's no chance of the  latter ever being 
produced (and even if a live-action version of that  anime would be a bad idea in any 
case)?  I do that quite often.  I've  sometimes imagined what a live-action 
version of AVATAR would be like -- the  spectacular scenery, bravura martial 
arts, beautiful costumes, and breathtaking  s.f.x.  And I *always* picture the 
characters -- major and minor -- as  Asian, or Inuit, or Pacific Islander.  As 
far as I'm concerned, seeing  Aang, Sokka, Katara, Zuko, and the others as any 
other ethnicity would be  like.... well, like hearing Haydn's famous Trumpet 
Concerto played on a  kazoo.  The notes might be correct, the performance 
might be  perfect, but it just wouldn't sound right.
Klara / Boz makes a good point when she states that  the setting of AVATAR is 
a fantasy world that doesn't necessarily  correspond to the continents or 
nations of the real world.  But even in a  fantasy world, you've got to have some 
sort of consistency -- and if that  consistency resonates with certain 
aspects of the real world, then that  resonance should ideally be preserved.
For example:  While there is no such  place as Middle Earth (unless New 
Zealand counts  ^_^), the world that  Tolkien created resonates with numerous 
aspects of Medieval Britain.   So casting Asians or Africans as the main characters 
of the LORD OF  THE RINGS films, while it might be interesting, wouldn't be 
in keeping with  the Medieval British "feel" of the story.
In the same manner, casting Caucasians as the main characters  of AVATAR 
violates the "feel" of the story, which is quite explicitly set in a  world that 
resonates with numerous aspects of ancient China, Japan, Tibet, and  the Inuit 
fishing villages of the Arctic.
There are some instances in which you can get away with ethnic  variations in 
casting.  The best example would be Shakespeare's plays,  which have been 
successfully produced all over the world with actors of a wide  spectrum of races 
and ethnic groups.  (One of the best live productions of  MACBETH that I ever 
saw starred a young James Earl Jones in the title  role.)  You can also do 
successful ethnic reversals by taking a classic  story and transporting it to an 
entirely different era or location; BLACK  ORPHEUS, which relocates the 
tragic Greek myth to 20th-century Brazil at  Carnival time, is a beautiful example 
of this.  And of course, getting back  to the theme of Shakespeare, there's 
WEST SIDE STORY.... 'nuff  said!
But barring memorable exceptions of that nature.... if  the story and 
characters resonate that strongly with a particular era  and culture, I think it's 
generally a good idea to be faithful to the "feel" of  the original.
So even if there were gazillions of other great film  opportunities for young 
Asian actors -- which, sadly, there are not -- I'd still  feel uneasy about 
seeing my favorite AVATAR characters look so  radically different in 
live-action from the way I'm used to picturing them  in animated form.
Just my 2 yen....
The Jillster
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("Bidden or not bidden, God is present")
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In a message dated 1/30/2009 4:58:06 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
arandia at gmail.com writes:

'I think  it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the
sides, and I  definitely need a tan,' he said of the transformation
he'll go through to  look more like Sokka."

That is kinda angry  making.

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