When I was a wee little girl, I sort of idolized Connie Chung.
I know, I know. Connie Chung? Isn't that kind of random?
But I loved Connie--simply because she was the only Asian woman I ever saw on TV.
Fortunately, television and film have come a long way when it comes to casting Asian actors and actresses. Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu have become household names, and popular shows like Glee and CSI have regularly featured Asians (although never in leading roles).
And so, I'm baffled and frustrated and downright angry at the blatant whitewashing of the movie, The Last Airbender. My sister and I are big fans of the original series (we're nerds), and we're both pretty pissed off about the casting of this film. Why? Because Asian people do not look like white people! We have yellow skin! And black hair! And a completely different history and culture!
Seriously, M. Night Shyamalan. SHAME. SHAME! You should know better than this. You could have hired a variety of Asian actors (ie Jon Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, etc.) but you didn't. You should have fought against this shit-tastic casting. But you didn't.
What makes me even more angry is how some people have tried to pass off this whitewashing as no big deal.
Them: "Oh, Aang didn't really look Asian in the TV series. Look at his big eyes!"
Me: Gah! Just because he has large eyes doesn't mean he's white!
Them: "Why are you making such a ruckus? There are lots of Asians in the movie."
Me: Uh, in the background. As extras.
Them: "You shouldn't focus so much on racism. That makes you racist."
Me: Huh? Wha? Are you on drugs? (Someone really said this in a comment on EW.com.)
So yeah. I'm rather miffed over this movie, but I'll eventually get over it. What makes me sad is the message this movie sends to young Asian boys and girls. What does the casting say to them? That white actors are better than Asian ones? That Asian actors aren't good enough? That they aren't good enough?
I already dread some of the conversations I'm going to have with my future kids. They're only going to be half Asian, but still, that's enough.