Negotiations are on for the right to direct the live-action version of Akira… this can only mean one thing.
I actually got irritated about this the other day when looking at the casting list for Avatar: The Last Airbender’s big-screen live-action adaptation. Obviously, Airbender isn’t anime, but the director’s approach with it is nevertheless in keeping with live-action versions of animated shows full of Asian characters – how white can we make this?
I have to admit – I don’t think I’ve ever really gotten as upset about this before as I did with Airbender. I think this is in part due to the fact that most anime characters look Western, so it doesn’t seem as jarring to notice a movie poster for, say, Speed Racer and see Caucasian actors occupying most (if not all) of the roles. On the other hand, comparing the Dragonball Evolution live-action film to the anime series itself, its easier to notice the discrepancy, as the main character himself does look… not exactly Asian, but the visual rendition of him doesn’t look Western, either. So then you look at the sop who played him in the Hollywood version and you end up scratching your head a bit.
I’ll also confess that I’m not sure I really took much notice of it prior to the cast lists of Airbender because I simply didn’t care about Dragonball Evolution, and the Speed Racer was such a mindfuck that it was hard to really stop your brain for a second to consider the fact that nearly the entire cast was Caucasian (mainly because my brain was just desperately trying to avoid a seizure). Airbender, on the other hand, is a show I did follow and really enjoyed; the characters also look more non-Western, so the difference really struck me… it’d be kind of like if they took the atrocious American Dragon: Jake Long and gave the lead role to… uhh… whoever the fuck that youngest Jonas brother kid is.
And then today I saw the news bit about Akira. $10 says three-quarters of the cast is Caucasian.
This really isn’t anything new, honestly, and certainly isn’t limited to Hollywood’s adaptations of anime. The Good Earth is an excellent example; interestingly enough in that case, the directors were originally going to use one Asian actress… but then backed the fuck off because it would’ve meant an inter-racial kiss! HOLY SHIT HIDE THE CHILDREN! Since, y’know, just casting all Asians would’ve been too hard… For an even more blatantly racist example, see Charlie Chan (obviously, Chinese = Swedish).
What is most disappointing about all of this is the fact that it isn’t a new thing to do this; this has been going on for decades. It’d be nice if Hollywood could get over this. I’m not really going to hold my breath about it, though, as very few people seem to be bothered by it or even noticing it. Post-racial society, my ass. And this isn’t even pointing out things like how in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra the bad ninja is Asian, but the good ninja is Caucasian (he’s the one who got all upset when the Asian ninja killed their master – you know those crazy slanty-eyed folk! always doing silly things like killing off their teachers!).
I was pretty excited when I first heard that they were making a live-action Airbender movie. I was even still excited when they said M. Night Shyalaman was directing (although my brain kept trying to insist it was 2004 and I had just whacked my boyfriend in the face for trying to make-out with me in the middle of The Village) (seriously, dude, I did not just drop $10 to make-out with you; I can do that for free whenever the fuck I feel like it…). But this? Fuck it. I’m not even going to see it. I’m legitimately disgusted. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you shouldn’t see it either. Who need this kind of crap?
And, before anyone says it, yes, I know – Japan’s not really known for being racially warm and fuzzy. That fact however has no bearing on our own racial behaviors and attitudes. Two wrongs do not make a right. I also don’t think that Caucasians are the majority in America means that its cool to whitewash entire casts of characters; if we followed that logic, about 15% of characters in movies should be Latino/Hispanic, and 12% should be black, something you don’t really ever see on the screen. This also makes little sense if one is making a film set in a foreign country – the fact remains that America is the most racially diverse country in the world (you got that, bitches).
Ugh, whatever. I’m exhausted and pissed off. I’d construct a more coherent argument, but I’m too tired to, and I’m too irritated to wait until I am fully rested. I’ve been awake since 5 a.m. and my damn M-16 malfunctioned on the range and kicked me in the eye when it recoiled. Fucking annoying.
FUCK YOU SHYALAMAN YOU’RE NOT EVEN WHITE AND YOU’RE WHITEWASHING SHIT, WHAT THE FUCK?!?!
For the record, I myself am Caucasian. And I’m just gonna go watch Ninja Assassin  a few thousand more times, thanks – yeah, I know, Rain is Korean, not Japanese, but at least they got the Asian part right.  And there’s an Interpol agent who yells several times, “It’s the ninjas, I swear!”
* * *
 This movie is terrible. But its that kind of terrible that is pure, distilled awesomeness. Don’t complain if you can’t appreciate such a thing, though; not everyone is as fucking awesome as I am, after all.
 I know – I’m about to be brutally murdered by a few thousand Koreans and a few thousand Japanese for alleging that they are even somewhat interchangeable. It’s ok, though – I’m an American, so obviously I’ll just pull out my gun, yell a few nonsensical obscenities, bounce my massive breasts for extra measure, and then shoot them all in the face. Haven’t you guys ever seen American girls in anime? Geez.