A couple weeks ago, Time Magazine asked for user-submitted questions for M. Night Shyamalan. Hundreds of readers, some from Racebending.com and others from elsewhere, asked M. Night exactly what was up with the casting of The Last Airbender.
The interview is up today
and here is the soft-pitched answer Time Magazine lobbed at M. Night.
Do you think the criticism about casting Caucasians in Asian roles in the film is a fair one? —Andrew Chang, EDISON, N.J.
MNS: Anime is intended to have ambiguous features. That's part of the art form. It's not meant to have a specific ethnicity behind it. I could have cast anybody I wanted to. You're talking to one of the only Asian filmmakers in the world who has complete control. And I'm not straying far from the truth when I say that this is the most culturally diverse tent-pole movie ever made. The criticism that I didn't cast the right Asians? That is small-minded.
Shyamalan uses many of the same coached talking points he used in other interviews this week.
"Anime is ambiguous." (It's not.) "Culturally diverse tentpole." (It's not.) The accusation that his detractors don't think Indians are "the right Asians." (What the eff?)
Most tellingly, Shyamalan takes his scripted talking point a step further: He says, "You're talking to one of the only Asian filmmakers in the world who has complete control
," acknowledging--perhaps unintentionally--that directors of color face discrimination ("one of the only") and that directors of color are not given freedom in their work in Hollywood.