The Last Airbender was a popular Nickelodeon television series that gained a huge following because of its story and its characters. When people heard that a live action movie was being made by director M. Night Shyamalan there was a mixed reaction, not only because of his hit and miss filmmaking history, but because of his casting choices. The director finally decided to shed some serious light on the white elephant in the room regarding The Last Airbender and race…

Shyamalan was at a recent press event surrounded by journalists and the people at i09 posted his responses to some of the burning questions a lot of us have regarding the casting for The Last Airbender. We’ve previously written about our take on his choices at length so I definitely advise you to give The Last Airbender: White-Washed Like A Fence a read. As for Shyamalan’s thoughts, he finally broke down the logic behind his decision to hire prominent white actors to play characters that look ethnic in the animated series.

Here’s the thing. The great thing about anime is that it’s ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It’s intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No that’s just in our house.  And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that’s what’s so beautiful about anime.

I’m going to have to disagree with you on that Night. When I look at the characters on the show I see brown skin, which gives me the indication that they stem from a culture that’s of Asian decent, where Indian would definitely be more of a possibility than someone who looks like Jackson Rathbone. This response was a generalization and a safe way for him to justify an issue that I refuse to give him a pass on, sorry.

He also spoke to the folks over at UGO about this hot  “racebending” topic.

There you go. Well, it is the most culturally diverse tent-pole movie ever made. And I’m proud of it. It’s part of what drew me to the material, to see the faces of our whole world in this new world. And only time will assuage everyone and give them peace. 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.

Once again, I disagree. What U.N. table has he seen that looks like the cast of this movie? Perhaps he’s counting all the ethnic extras that are featured in the BACKGROUND. I’ve heard rumors that this will turn into a full on trilogy and we will see plenty of other representations including Asians and even African-Americans in the sequels yet I won’t hold my breath.

I’ll wrap this up by saying the “dark guy” playing the villain is a movie convention that got old a long time ago and I’m not happy seeing it resurface in something that’s directed towards a younger audience. He could have really done better with this.

What do you think of Shyamalan’s point of view regarding race and The Last Airbender?