Get the Indian-loving homo, quickly!

So I appear to have gotten into another online scuffle with fanatics. Apparently a group dedicated to hating M. Night Shyamalan and The Last Airbender has taken great offense at my articles, and my attempts to explain my opinion (in the comments).

Now, get this, because it’s too precious for words: they claim the movie is racist (I disagree, but do have many criticisms), and that I’m a racist for not seeing that. Then they proceed to make remarks like:

And now to add insult to injury, he’s dissed Peter Jackson. In favor of making Shama-llama-ding-dong look good.

and

I wonder how long he been blowing M. Night’s e-dick.

and

you are the most butthurt fanboy I have ever seen. Go back and finish sucking on M.Night dick.

So, making fun of Indian names is not racist, and blatantly homophobic language is OK. This would be sad if it wasn’t funny.

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23 Comments

  1. Nahessa

     /  February 19, 2011

    While I can’t condone the way fans of the original series have handled this, I still think M. Night’s version of TLA was racist. Obviously M. Night’s racism was completely unintentional, or at least I hope it was, but the series was clearly based on an asian mythology.

    Obviously. If you had made a TV fantasy show based heavily in african culture there would be no room to argue. However, people think because the source material was “open to interpretation.” This claim is ridiculous, regardless if cartoons are easy to interpret there is always an inspiration or idea for the source material. I am positive they did not enjoy three of protagonists being cast as white males. I for one expected at least Aang to be white, I understand how hollywood can be.

    HOWEVER, casting two white people in roles where the original characters were OBVIOUSLY dark skinned is blatantly a form of prejudice. Racism in casting is quite prominent in Hollywood, and please don’t say it doesn’t exist. 21 is a great example, a movie based on a bunch of college students using mathematic theory to win huge sums in vegas. The original students were mostly asian, but of course when it was made into a movie, they recast all the major characters to caucasians.

    You can like M.Night all you like, but please don’t try to excuse his casting choices. They were in poor taste, especially in several points where the all the white protagonists were saving the “helpless” asian characters.

  2. Ah, cretinous trolls. Got to love ’em, really. What would the Internet be without ’em? Smart, I suppose…

  3. On the one hand, those guys are idiots. I don’t like sinking to their level and using ad hominem, but they’re idiots plain and simple.

    I like Shyamalan’s work, I really do. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and The Village were all amazing works, and I don’t think Lady in the Water or The Happening get enough credit. Signs was pretty good, but the idea of being invaded by aliens who are allergic to water with the slightest impurity takes away from it. Everything else about it was great.

    I haven’t seen Devil yet, so no opinions there.

    And now comes The Last Airbender. I loved the TV series, and when I saw the trailer for this, I thought it would be awesome.

    Jonas, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t make it past the first ten minutes of the movie. Might have been twenty. I got up to where they went to visit Aang’s old home, the Southern Air Temple. Anyway, the story was rushed, the acting was bad, the effects were lacking, and they mispronounced Aang’s name. I’m really sorry, but I have to chalk this one up as a failure.

  4. Racism in casting is quite prominent in Hollywood, and please don’t say it doesn’t exist.

    Why would I? I’ve always been opposed to racism, and the racism of Hollywood is something I’m very much aware of – and have often complained about.

    You can like M.Night all you like, but please don’t try to excuse his casting choices. They were in poor taste

    Yes, yes they were. I’ve said so. But I don’t think it can be reduced to just racism – especially when you consider that the cast is quite diverse. I think what happened in the casting is definitely a failure, but I’m not going to label a movie with Cliff Curtis, Dev Patel, Shaun Toub and Aasif Mandvi as racist. I think the problems are more complicated than that.

  5. Jonas, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t make it past the first ten minutes of the movie. Might have been twenty. I got up to where they went to visit Aang’s old home, the Southern Air Temple. Anyway, the story was rushed, the acting was bad, the effects were lacking, and they mispronounced Aang’s name. I’m really sorry, but I have to chalk this one up as a failure.

    I thought the effects were pretty good, but at no point did I claim the movie was fantastic. I thought it was decent, and aimed at children; for that it was pretty OK (but nowhere near great). And I have no problem with you thinking it was a failure; maybe I would have thought the same if I hadn’t seen it on the big screen.

  6. Anonymous

     /  February 19, 2011

    Hey, Jonas,

    I’m very sorry. I was mostly venting back on the blog. I didn’t really mean it; it’s just…I lost my head. I wasn’t thinking. And…I’m really sorry.

    *Bows contritely*

    I’m not sorry for my position, though. I’m mostly sorry for causing an…interstellar incident, for lack of a better word. XD Can you forgive me? 🙁

  7. Disagreements are not a problem – I state my opinion and other people get to state theirs. Discussion is welcome, and as you can see, I am perfectly willing to listen to arguments and to explain why I feel the way that I do. The only problem here is a lack of tolerance, and homophobia.

    I wish you the best of luck in bringing the original series to more people, but please consider doing it with less anger and with more enthusiasm, and without resorting to homophobic language. I think there is much that has to be said in criticism of The Last Airbender, but the problems are complex and need a more nuanced approach than “anyone who likes Shyamalan sucks dick.”

  8. Anonymous

     /  February 19, 2011

    Thank you, sir. 🙂

    (Although, just to clear it up, the whole, um…sucking d**k thing is a bit of a figure of speech. We’re not against gay people. Really. 😉 That said, we were out of line, and…we apologize. *Bows and leaves*)

  9. dietotaku

     /  February 19, 2011

    i don’t think you’re understanding where the claims of racism are coming from. it is entirely possible to cast a great deal of ethnic minorities and still be racist in your casting and screenwriting. i’ll lay out some simple bullet points for you to explain:
    -the casting call for all speaking roles requested “CAUCASIAN or any other ethnicity.” this is hollywood speak for “you can audition if you’re a minority, but we really want to see a white guy.”
    -casting director deedee rickets made a multitude of statements like “if you’re korean, wear a kimono [koreans wear hanboks, japanese wear kimono],” and telling african-american extras to “just put your scarf over your head like you’re a ukrainian villager or whatever.”
    -all of the heroes are white. all of the villains are dark-skinned (and terrorists of a sort, at that).
    -not a single inuit, asian or african-american character, speaking role or otherwise, has a name
    -see the deleted scene in which the mighty white heroes rescue a village populated exclusively by blacks, who promptly erupt into a tribal dance as though they are 3rd-world bushmen, and the heroes join in like wealthy tourists saying “oh they’re dancing for us in their uniquely ethnic tradition! how cute!”
    -see the deleted scene in which aunt wu is played by a black woman and reduced from authentic fortuneteller to cold-reading pseudo-psychic hack miss cleo. while these scenes didn’t appear in the theatrical film, that they were written and filmed shows m. night’s racist attitudes.

    if m. night had written speaking roles for the african-american extras where they said “meesa verruh happy yousa savin’ da village fer us, yousa wanna feast on fried chikkun an’ watamellin wif us?” or the asian actors started all their lines with “herro prease” and spoke in broken engrish, there would be no question that the film was racist. just because the stereotypes m. night employed were non-verbal doesn’t mean they’re not still negative stereotypes and therefore racist.

    those of us who refer to shyamalan as “shama-llama” or “shamwow” are doing so in *retaliation*. he messed up the characters’ names (and the entire movie), so we mess up his name. he has not earned the respect to have his name pronounced correctly. and that you would actually suggest m. night is a better director than peter jackson IS appalling. peter jackson directed an award-winning masterpiece, his movies serve as an example of how to make good movies 101. “the last airbender” is a concentrated lesson in what NOT to do.

  10. -all of the heroes are white. all of the villains are dark-skinned (and terrorists of a sort, at that).

    I’ve already stated that I disagree with that assessment, since I don’t find Prince Zuko and Uncle Iroh to be villains. Some of the other points you raise do have some validity, though I think I would need to see the movie again to see how strongly they strike me as stereotyping (as opposed to a ham-fisted attempt at worldbuilding).

    those of us who refer to shyamalan as “shama-llama” or “shamwow” are doing so in *retaliation*

    And this is not racist… how? Racism in retaliation for racism is still racism.

    and that you would actually suggest m. night is a better director than peter jackson IS appalling. peter jackson directed an award-winning masterpiece, his movies serve as an example of how to make good movies 101.

    So now the Academy Award is a sign of unimpeachable quality? Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings is shoddily made and not even remotely true to the original work. That Shyamalan directed one mediocre movie does not undo his previous works, which are masterfully done, even when they flawed (like Signs or The Happening).

  11. sucking d**k thing is a bit of a figure of speech. We’re not against gay people. Really.

    It’s still deeply homophobic language, though – intentionally or not. (You could actually use this argument against me, and say that The Last Airbender is racist despite Shyamalan’s clearly non-racist intentions.)

  12. I really liked the Lord of the Rings trilogy (I have watched the extended cuts like 5 times each). What did you find “shoddily made and not even remotely true to the original work”?

  13. There is no way I can fit all of that into one comment. It would require dozens of pages. There were some excellent essays that someone wrote a while back about the topic – when I find the time to track them down again, I’ll post them.

  14. Pedro Mateus

     /  February 19, 2011

    Thank you…

    Finally someone else who doesn’t hate Shyamalan.
    That aside, I feel a very masculine and heterosexual attraction to you, Mr. Kyratzes. Big thumbs up and keep up the good work, I missed the regular updates.

  15. And I do not know why anyone would hate Shyamalan. While some of his work could be criticizes Some of his movies I would say are without a doubt the best of the last few decades.

  16. Pedro Mateus

     /  February 20, 2011

    All this got me to fire up the old DvD player and watch The Happening again. The Hitchcockian sound was definitly one of the high points on that movie, for me.
    I noticed somethings I hadn’t before, Wahlberg’s performance was quite poor and there’s a microphone on the shot when they’re in the car and the camera starts pulling away. xD

    Those two minuses aside, it is an okay movie and I enjoyed viewing it again, of course this time I kept imagining Wahlberg flying sideways shooting dual berettas. >.>

  17. Anonymous

     /  February 22, 2011

    http://bebopsamurai.livejournal.com/70401.html#cutid1

    You come to your own conclusions. I just thought it might be helpful. 🙂

  18. See, I think that article (or series of articles) has got several good points, but they’re completely undermined by the obsession with insulting Shyamalan on a personal level.

    (And, to me, by completely uninformed references to The Lord of the Rings – Arthurian myth? Really?)

    I also find that some of the arguments are flawed – like using really, really bad screenshots to illustrate the movie’s visual shortcomings, when in fact those images do not represent the movie’s look at all. The movie was often quite beautiful – not as much as Shyamalan’s other movies, and definitely not as much as it should have been – but it did have some great visuals.

  19. Um…the lighting was really bad. I’m sorry, Jonas, but it was. It was bad. It was really dim…the scenery *was* beautiful, I’ll give it that, but the lighting was really, *really* bad:

    http://maninblackreviews.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/34967_407272253281_518043281_4533938_6105092_n.jpg

    Seriously, the fact that they let something like *this* get into a movie says a bunch of really unsettling things about the editing. The worst part being that Andrew Lesnie, who worked on LOTR, was actually involved with that. And he was *good* on LOTR! The problem is, AIRBENDER just wasn’t his movie. It wasn’t anyone’s movie, really. Maybe Shyamalan’s not the Antichrist everyone makes him out to be (I’ll– reluctantly — admit the comparisons are getting…slightly old), but the fact he refuses to admit that he failed is just…galling.

    And yes, LOTR *was* influenced by Arthurian myth. The bond between Frodo and Sam, for instance, as well as Frodo sailing into the West in the end. (Avalon, anyone? 🙂 The significance of Anduril as well, and family ties. The point that bebopsamurai was trying to make is that…you’d have to be a complete idiot to disregard the mythologies put forth in Avatar, and the cultures. M. Night said in an interview that the cultures in Avatar weren’t clearly defined — when even a clone army of Andy Dicks could have pointed them out! For example:

    The Southern Water Tribe is Inuit. From Sokka’s warrior wolftail and facepaint to Katara’s hair loopies, the Inuit influence is strong.

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ju6uRMcOcKQ/TPaa4UIACfI/AAAAAAAAAE8/DftLveaOLSA/s1600/katara.jpg

    http://img206.imageshack.us/i/katara19zh2.jpg/sr=1

    http://www.absoluteanime.com/avatar_the_last_airbender/katara.jpg

    http://avatarthelastairbenderonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Katara-Looking-at-Light-in-distance.jpg

    http://www.avatarthelastairbendertoys.com/images/Katara-2.jpg

    http://images.tribe.net/tribe/upload/photo/93e/105/93e105d4-be4b-433e-86c5-1bba2dd51c61

    http://hirvine.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/avatar-the-last-airbender-ep-01_04.jpg

    http://www.youthink.com/images_quiz/2008/11/14/full_664824697.jpg

    http://images.buddytv.com/articles/avatar-the-last-airbender/images/Sokka-1.jpg

    http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100423015611/avatar/images/3/36/Sokka_DOBS.png

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_LpF1Escpszc/TBaoPYmYObI/AAAAAAAABuU/YTv_GT-_nJA/s1600/SokkaKatara.jpg

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/6/6b/Sokka.Yue.png

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3612/3644961003_22025e55d1_m.jpg

    http://30ninjas.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/avatar-hakoda.jpg

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/5/55/KatarasMotherKya.png

    The Air Nomads are Tibetan monks:

    http://www.thewritingnut.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/250px-Monk_Gyatso.png

    http://www.theavatarportal.org/gyatsopic1.png

    http://avatarthelastairbenderonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Aang_Hair__by_effenndee.jpg

    The Northern Water Tribe is Native American, as shown from Arnook’s hairstyle:

    http://editthis.info/images/four_nations/6/6f/Chief_Arnook.jpg

    And Yue’s:

    http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/1/11464/353188-46138-princess-yue_super.jpg

    The Earth Kingdom is Chinese:

    http://30ninjas.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/avatar-long-feng.jpg

    http://zeriez.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/avatar-the-last-airbender-season-2-episode-18-the-earth-king.png

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/c/c6/Kuei%26Bosco.png

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/8/83/LongFengadvises.png

    http://www.betweentalk.com/attachments/trivia-forum-games/1269d1268514325-avatar-last-airbender-rp-jin_002.jpg

    http://www.freewebs.com/itsanavatarworld/toph.jpg

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_nf2coyrUHcg/RrqEssNgV5I/AAAAAAAAAD0/vS2R9IdumNw/s320/CuteToph.jpg

    http://th02.deviantart.net/fs15/150/f/2007/111/1/a/Toph_Bei_Fong_by_NorthernBanshee.jpg

    As are the Kyoshi Warriors:

    http://fc08.deviantart.net/fs12/f/2006/330/a/c/Kyoshi_Warriors_Finished_by_shibamura_prime.png

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pO6Y7rbPKGI/SQ9_Ho4Yc3I/AAAAAAAAABo/XcVHw_Gd5Q4/s400/suki.png

    http://myavatarworld.homestead.com/kyoshi.jpg

    And Suki:

    http://media.photobucket.com/image/suki%20avatar/Sheikah_ness/Picture9.png

    http://guriguriblog.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/snapshot20090107041702.jpg

    http://www.freewebs.com/bluespiritgal/CharcaterPage/237-mediumSuki.jpg

    And in certain areas of the Earth Kingdom, Vietnamese/Korean (note that Koreans wear hanboks, *not* kimonos. You’d have to be dumber than crabgrass to get this wrong):

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/3/38/Song_1.png

    And finally, the Fire Nation is East Asian:

    http://i.animecrazy.net/witchlerfani_azula.jpg

    http://www.freewebs.com/azulathefirebender/chase7.JPG

    http://www.absoluteanime.com/avatar_the_last_airbender/azula.jpg

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/5/50/Azula0001.png

    http://www.theavatarportal.org/ozai1.jpg

    http://images.buddytv.com/articles/avatar-the-last-airbender/images/zuko-1.jpg

    http://www.theicecave.org/damage_control/multimedia/avatarfinale01.jpg

    http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090302125347/avatar/images/thumb/9/9e/Phoenix_King_Ozai2.png/300px-Phoenix_King_Ozai2.png

    http://www.theavatarportal.org/ursa1.jpg

    http://www.freewebs.com/itsanavatarworld/586.jpg

    http://x4ashes4ashes.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/avatar-the-last-airbender-cartoon-screencap-book-3-fire-chapter-18192021-sozins-comet-a-the-phoenix-king-10.jpg

    http://images.wikia.com/avatar/images/1/1f/Mai.PNG

    http://www.sollicitus-somnium.com/images/avatar/avatar_03x05_001.jpg

    http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/0/3853/220258-35964-admiral-zhao_large.jpg

    Also, this:

    http://tvmedia.ign.com/tv/image/article/869/869864/avatar-thedeserter_1209415157.jpg

    http://www.racebending.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/water.png

    http://www.racebending.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/ep16-21.png

    Compared with this:

    http://www.racebending.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/watersquiggle.jpg

    http://www.racebending.com/v3/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/badcalligraphy.jpg

    Any questions?

  20. Um…the lighting was really bad. I’m sorry, Jonas, but it was. It was bad. It was really dim…the scenery *was* beautiful, I’ll give it that, but the lighting was really, *really* bad:

    But you do realize that part of the reason for all the dimness is the fact that it was upconverted to 3D, when it was shot and intended as a regular movie? That process is catastrophic to colour and brightness, but it was the studio’s choice, not Shyamalan’s.

    And yes, LOTR *was* influenced by Arthurian myth. The bond between Frodo and Sam, for instance, as well as Frodo sailing into the West in the end.

    I would dispute that; certainly there are echoes of common mythic motifs, but I’d count the actual influence of Arthurian myth on Tolkien’s work as rather minimal. There are some minor parallels, but in each story the significance of these things is extremely different – Aman is not the same as Avalon, and Andúril is not Excalibur.

    Which doesn’t really affect the issue of Avatar, but overly simplistic statements about The Lord of the Rings tend to bother me, because it’s such an underappreciated book (as literature, not as geek obsesssion).

  21. Anonymous

     /  February 23, 2011

    Okay, perhaps it was Paramount’s decision, but keep in mind, we’re *not* just hating on Shyamalan (even if some of the stupid comments he made didn’t help matters). We’re hating on the fact that what could have been a wonderful movie fell victim to the cold money-making machine that *is* Paramount/Nickelodeon, and Shyamalan’s overinflated view of himself. In the end, THE LAST AIRBENDER is wasted potential. Because when Shyamalan could have made the next STAR WARS, when he could have made it something genuinely *good*, when he could have pulled his career out of the gutter and have been met with people welcoming him back and cheering — he was thinking about himself.

    And he doesn’t even realize it — in interviews, he’s blamed everyone but himself, and yet he says in one interview that he had “complete say in casting” and “there’s no Inuit woman who looks like Katara”. Really. *I did not make this shit up.*

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/celebritology/2010/07/talking_with_director_m_night.html

    You may argue that “people shouldn’t have attacked him since he chose the best actors for the roles” — well, first off, if I were in M. Night’s position, I at least would have been honest about why I chose them instead of making stupid excuses. (For example, I would have said, “I chose Nicola Peltz because she was willing to talk about Katara”, or something like that) And second of all, the acting turns out so horrible anyway (then again, I doubt even Ayesha Kapoor could have read the lines M. Night wrote for Katara and made them workable. :/) that it doesn’t matter.

  22. I wish anonymous had put an actual name down, I liked his references (albeit maybe a few too many) but it was an interesting read and well backed up. I would pitch in with a comment but I know nada about the film or the serious…

  23. @ Stegg:

    I’m actually a girl…but thank you. 🙂