The Last Airbender is a live-action adaptation of the popular animated cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The film quickly gained negative publicity due to the controversial casting of the film’s main characters – white actors were cast in the roles of characters who were Asian in the original animated series. There was a significant backlash among members of the Asian American community and others concerned about the marginalization of Asians in media. The fact that the director of the film, M. Knight Shyamalan, comes from a South Asian heritage, provided an additional layer of complexity to the controversy.
More on the racial implications of casting in The Last Airbender can be found here, via the website Racebending.
What do you think are the some of the reasons why the filmmakers decided to cast white actors in these roles?
Are these legitimate explanations, or do you think a filmmaker should be compelled to hire Asian actors in the adaptation of a cartoon that features Asian characters?