For those of us waiting for M. Night Shyamalan to address our concerns about the discriminatory casting in The Last Airbender, this latest article on ugo.com reveals some of his thinking on the matter. Unfortunately, it seems he really doesn’t understand why everyone’s so upset.
One good thing is that he admits that he’s heard about the protest. But to respond to our calls for people of color as heroes, he simply points to the racial indeterminacy of anime — as if that justifies the casting of only “European”-featured heroes. He completely neglects to mention that they specifically cast for white actors, instead implying that they were really trying to populate their world with a mix of races. Which would be hard to do with the casting announcement for “Caucasian or any other ethnicity.”
He also states, “Maybe they didn’t see the faces that they wanted to see but, overall, it is more than they could have expected. We’re in the tent and it looks like the U.N. in there.” False. We expected to see people of color as the heroes, rather than as the background actors and the villains, so we are not getting even close to these expectations. Also, if he were true to his metaphor of the U.N., he would have sat people of color at the table next to white people, as equals.
Finally, when prodded about how “the only characters of color are baddies,” he responds “It’s called irony.” It’s hard to read this remark since it doesn’t make any sense, but the most disappointing thing is that he truly doesn’t seem to take this critique seriously.
Kudos to Jordan Hoffman for getting responses to these “touchy” questions (except for the conspiracy theorist comment…), and a big thumbs down to M. Night Shyamalan for failing to respond appropriately.