Sunday, July 11, 2010

This Post has Nothing to do with Real ID

I meant to post this last weekend, but I got busy with family and celebrations, so this will go up today. First things first, I've made a new schedule for when you can expect new blog posts. The goal is to have a new entry every two weeks. This will not only allow for extra time I there happens to be a week or so where nothing of note happens, but will also give me extra time to formulate a educated exposition should a topic arise.

So this last weekend The Last Airbender was released in theaters. I never watched the cartoon and know very little about the storyline, so needless to say I didn't see it. I did, however, see The A-Team which was the perfect film to see on a Fourth of July weekend. Nothing says America like blowing shit up.What I want to talk about, however, is the casting in The Last Airbender. By now, I'm sure you've heard multiple people complaining about how casting was all wrong, how the characters in the cartoon were clearly Asian, not white, and therefore the film should reflect this. Let’s take a look at the three main characters of the series.

They don’t look Asian to me. In fact, one looks white and the other two brown, which you could say is middle-eastern in the setting (which is based on mythological Asia, so Middle-Eastern is closer in proximity than Latin American). Like I said earlier, I didn’t see the film, and have never watched the cartoon so if I am mistaken about something, this is why. However, I am only using this as an example that people can use a single element to lay blame to something that is terrible from any angle. Reviews have been terrible all around. Roger Ebert gave the film half a star, saying that it, “bores and alienates its audiences,” and criticized its poor use of 3D.

Another example is the horrid Dragonball: Evolution that was released in April 2008. It had nearly the exact same backlash against it due to the casting of Justin Chatwin as Goku. In reality, the film did poorly due to its budget, which was originally thought to upwards of $100 million, but it was revealed post-release that the budget was actually closer to $30 million. That’s less of a budget than the first Twilight movie.

The discussion of casting leads us to an article that was posted just after film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, was released. The article talks about how the uproar of casting Jake Gyllenhaal as the Prince shouldn't have been pointed towards Hollywood, but instead towards Ubisoft, who westernized the Middle-Eastern Prince with,

“his feather topped turban, the inevitable MC Hammer pants and the Aladdin-esque vests (where shirts are apparently optional). His adventures epitomize everything we love to fantasize about the Arabian Nights, where camels roam golden sand dunes, genies grant wishes and beautiful, veiled belly dancers hide in pillow-filled harems. The villains only add to the cultural fantasy, like the evil Vizier threatening to undermine the Sultan’s power or the sultry Kaileena, whose skimpy clothing (or lack thereof) would probably never fly in ancient Iranian culture. Prince of Persia sums up the American gamers’ wet dream of the exotic and ancient Orient.”

All of this is true, but I don't see why Ubisoft should make any apologies for it. Video games, movies, and other forms of other entertainment media are about escaping reality into the fantastic, where only our imagination and ideas can take us. So in reality, the use of a “white prince” by Hollywood was actually being true to the source material. As for the idea of using an actor of Persian decent (modern-day Iran), or middle-eastern for that matter, please show me an actor who could carry a Bruckheimer summer action blockbuster. I've yet to see anyone able to name one.

But here's the thing, why should this matter? There has been lots of cross-racial casting in movies that hasn’t caused such uproar. Remember Michael Clark Duncan playing the Kingpin in Daredevil?

There wasn’t an outcry, actually it was the opposite. Fans were pleases with the portrayal of Wilson Fisk. One reviewer even said, “Michael Clarke Duncan is the embodiment of The Kingpin, the city’s crime czar. His voice and physical presence are completely in tune with the role.”

An upcoming film adaptation of the game, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, will be released in 2011. Bruce Willis will be playing Kane and Jamie Foxx will be playing Lynch. In the game, Lynch is white, but do most people care? Foxx’s caliber of acting has put to rest any concerns about miscasting.

There was even a petition a few months ago to cast Donald Glover, who plays Troy on the television series Community, as Peter Parker for the Spider-Man movie reboot coming in 2012. As one headline put it, “The World Is Ready for a Black Spider-Man.”

So why the double-standard? In a perfect world, the best actor is always cast as for the role, but we live in a world far from perfect. If we can teach our kids that it’s ok for African-American kids to play Abraham Lincoln in their school play, why can’t we apply this same logic on a grand scale?

Look forward to another update on the weekend of the 23rd, when Comic-Con 2010 will be in full effect so expect some big news updates.

New Articles

It’s been a while since an update included links to my articles, so here are all the ones that haven’t be linked thus far.

2K Sports Unveil NBA 2K11 Cover

Korean World of Warcraft Players get StarCraft 2 For Free

Interplay Teases Fallout Online

NBA Elite 11 Features Kevin Durant on Cover

Multiplayer and Move Support Scrapped From The Force Unleashed II

Medal of Honor Beta Starts Today

OnLive Launches, Offers First Year Free

Fallout Online Teaser Website Launches

Gran Turismo 5 Reveals Official Release Date

David Jaffe Announces New Twisted Metal

Portal 2 Unveiled, Coming to PS3

Sony PlayStation Plus to Launch in June

Sony Announces PlayStation Move Date, Price

Warhammer 40K: Dark Millennium Online Reveal Trailer

GoldenEye Remake Official for the Wii

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood E3 Cinematic Trailer

DJ Hero 2 Gameplay First Look

Dead Space 2 Gameplay Trailer

New Details Outline Cataclysm Changes

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II – Betrayal Cinematic

Rapper Drake to Voiceover in Gears of War 3

Mortal Kombat 9 Announced, Trailer

Mortal Kombat Rebirth: Game or Movie? [Updated]

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Reveals Subject 1157

Harry Potter and the Gears of Wands?

NBA Live Gets New Name, New Game

Alpha Protocol Dev Vents

Sony Confirms Premium PSN, Coming Soon

Michael Jordan to Cover NBA 2K11

GameStop Powers Up with New Rewards Program

Starcraft 2 gets Censored in Korea

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