You can probably tell which couple I “ship” for Avatar: the Last Airbender. But that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that last Saturday, The Last Airbender totally ruled the Razzies, winning five awards, including worst picture, worst director, and worst screenplay. Worst screenplay indeed: Princess Yue tells Sokka that it’s “time to show the Fire Nation we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in theirs. Yes, of course you believe in your beliefs: that’s why they’re called beliefs.
What’s most interesting to me, though, is that while many articles slamming The Last Airbender have talked about its mind-numbingly stupid dialogue and its eye-gouging 3D, very few have talked about the whitewashing of its cast. Personally, that is the most glaring issue facing The Last Airbender. It took a beloved (well-written) show and whitewashed the lead actors, relegating people of color to supporting roles. Instead of providing an opportunity for actors of color to shine and prove that, hell yes we can kick ass and save the world, it slammed us in the face with the institutionalized racism of Hollywood. And then its director, M. Night Shymalan, had the nerve to say that it was totally, completely diverse. Perhaps the most diverse movie ever!
I’m not asking for long essays about the history of yellow-face or black-face or any of those other horrendous practices. I just want people to remember the fact that The Last Airbender bastardized one of the few shows out there that portrayed Asian people as well-rounded, sympathetic heroes, and that showed such love and care to cultures that have been lampooned and caricatured over and over in mainstream media.