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Protest the Whitewashing of Akira 
22nd-Mar-2011 04:12 pm

These are the actors currently in consideration to play the roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo in Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures' adaptation of AKIRA. (Yes, that AKIRA.)


Read more about the situation at Racebending.com.

Retweet our Tweet about it to get the word out. Earlier today we were featured on the front page of Twitter.

Join the Facebook Petition so we can get an exact number of people who are upset about the decision to whitewash this film. We'd like to tell Warner Bros. that it's in the thousands or tens of thousands so get cracking!

Reblog this, tell your friends, etc!

23rd-Mar-2011 12:00 am (UTC)
Joined the fb group and invited some well-connected people.

This is AKIRA, come on Hollywood ;A;
23rd-Mar-2011 12:21 am (UTC)
After the whole Airbender thing, this is almost comical. The pool they've created for these iconic rolls and they're all white. (Not to mention, kind of old lookin'; most. Come on, guys, if you're going to pull this shit the least you can do is come up with an original movie concept.)
23rd-Mar-2011 01:49 am (UTC)
I'm kind of in the position where I don't want this movie to even exist regardless of the casting, so I don't know how I could fairly protest the casting when really I just want this thing canceled, but I have been getting the word out to people on Facebook.
23rd-Mar-2011 03:21 am (UTC)
Same here, I'd rather it not happen at all, but there's just something about having "correct casting" that would probably have made me interested (e.g. "Hey, they're actually casting Asians/Asian-Americans in these roles. That's new!").
23rd-Mar-2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
23rd-Mar-2011 02:14 am (UTC)
Facebooked and joined. But like the above commenter, I just want this thing to die a quick death.
23rd-Mar-2011 02:54 am (UTC)
Joined, commented, and possibly getting ready to post the link to my FB status too.
And, I third that I'm hoping it will die a quick death. But, knowing how Hollywood functions... I'm remaining pessimistic a bit.
23rd-Mar-2011 04:06 am (UTC)
You know, the whitewashing isn't nearly as bizarre to me as the fact that all the guys listed here are waaaaay too old. I think Pattinson is the youngest (I think) and he's really close to the point where he can't pull off a teen anymore. A few of these guys are in their 30's even.

I'm all about the protest against whitewashing here, but changing the characters so they're the age of 'the man' rather then the teenagers in rebellion they're supposed to be is just...bizarre.

...They have read 'Akira' right?
23rd-Mar-2011 01:42 pm (UTC)
"...They have read 'Akira' right?"
Of course they read it...About as much as M. Night watched Avatar, anyways.

This movie is doomed. I had hopes for TLA, but this...I have none for it whatsoever. I just hope it all falls flat.
23rd-Mar-2011 04:09 am (UTC)
So... this is definitely Japanese characters being played by white people, or is it an Americanization like The Ring or The Grudge?
23rd-Mar-2011 04:23 am (UTC)
It's an Americanization set in a Neo-New York/Manhattan from what I understand. That being said, New York is one of the most racially diverse cities in the US so there's no excuse for whitewashing other then they just don't want to consider Asian actors...or teenagers apparently.

The fact that they're reporting that these actors were sent scripts rather then having an open casting tells me that they have already determined that they can't make this film without a big name and right now these guys are in big projects like 'X-Men First Class.' Given that 'Akira' is one of the biggest animes in the US and they still don't think they can't sell it with younger/Asian actors doesn't really give me a lot of hope for their "reinvisioning"
23rd-Mar-2011 04:27 am (UTC)
Having not seen the comic or cartoon, I'm looking at some images. They certainly cannot use the "Japanese anime is ambiguous" "excuse." Well, the images are just of the title character, Akira. I assuming, though, that the rest of the characters look like him.
23rd-Mar-2011 05:13 am (UTC)
Dude in red jacket = Kaneda

Dude in T-Shirt/Cape = Tetsuo

The movie is an anime classic and has awesome animation, but if you watch it be prepared for some crazy nightmare fuel.
23rd-Mar-2011 06:42 am (UTC)
This whole time I thought that Akira was a character.
23rd-Mar-2011 07:45 am (UTC)
Well, he is...kind of. We actually see more of him in the manga, but even there, he never speaks. The title has more to do with his presence than his actual character. Kind of like the novel "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier.
23rd-Mar-2011 07:55 am (UTC)
/Given that 'Akira' is one of the biggest animes in the US and they still don't think they can't sell it with younger/Asian actors doesn't really give me a lot of hope for their "reinvisioning"/

I just cannot understand that. How popular and successful do movies/shows with obviously Asian influences and backgrounds have to be for Hollywood to finally get it through their heads that they should cast appropriately?

Harry Potter is widely popular and all of the actors in the films are British. Lord of the Rings is widely popular and all of the actors in the films are white (save some of the ones who play the Orcs...I think).

Yet Avatar: The Last Airbender is widely popular and all of the heroes in the film were white. Akira is widely popular and all of the actors in this film (as of yet) are white.

What is your problem, Hollywood? What is your *deal?* You think that Asian-American actors can never bring in profits because they're not popular enough? Well, gee, maybe if you actually *casted* Asian-American actors instead of always lazily foisting off roles on white actors, they could catch their big break, become famous, and then it would be considered to be a reasonable investment to continuously cast them in lead roles. /rant
23rd-Mar-2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
Didn't you get the memo? Asians can only be leads if it's a flat out martial arts flick. And even then, they should share the limelight with some random white guy just to be safe.*

*Black guy partner is only allowed for a comedy.
23rd-Mar-2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
But The Last Airbender was a martial arts film, and Asians weren't even allowed in that...
24th-Mar-2011 12:09 am (UTC)
That's why they took out the martial arts.
24th-Mar-2011 03:10 am (UTC)
24th-Mar-2011 03:18 am (UTC)
23rd-Mar-2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
Money dear boy, it's not about popularity but how much power (money=power) the original author/ rights holder has, or can lose. "Not needing the money puts me in a magical place because I can say no. I like the idea of having good movies made or having no movies made." -Neil Gaiman

It's less about popularity and more about clout of the author, Rowling has a lot of power and she made sure that Harry Potter was not Americanized, that Dean was black and the Cho had a British accent (I read in an article that they started looking for actresses with Chinese accents and Rowling told them that that wouldn't make sense, as Cho grew up in Britain)

Neil Gaiman has also said in an interview he makes enough money that he can afford to turn down projects that don't best represent his work. Such as Anansi Boys (a story based on African folklore featuring characters in modern day, the filmmakers wanted to change the leads from black to white and drop the magic elements... why bother?)

23rd-Mar-2011 05:34 am (UTC)
Do we know for sure that they're keeping the names Kaneda and Tetsuo? I haven't been keeping that close an eye on this, but the last things I've read were conflicted on that.
23rd-Mar-2011 05:38 am (UTC)
Last I read they were keeping Kaneda, but changing Tetsuo to Travis. Of course this thing has apparently been through so many rewrites/repitches I have no clue if that's still the case.
(Deleted comment)
23rd-Mar-2011 01:46 pm (UTC) - wow. had to share this.
23rd-Mar-2011 03:10 pm (UTC) - Re: wow. had to share this.
23rd-Mar-2011 04:47 pm (UTC) - Re: wow. had to share this.
......what? That's like saying out of the Haiti and Japan earthquakes the only one you should donate to is Haiti. Why isn't it possible for both of them to be problems?

Not to mention that this isn't at all a professional way to draw attention to the problem. Nobody's going to want to listen to this person even though they have good intentions.
23rd-Mar-2011 04:50 pm (UTC)
You would think that casting Asian American actors would make more sense on multiple levels. For instance, Asians tend to age relatively slower, so a 30-year-old Asian male would look far less old then these pasty fellows AND they'd get around the child labor laws that these choices make clear they're desperate to avoid.

Not to mention, you know, THE SOURCE MATERIAL STARS ASIANS.
23rd-Mar-2011 05:11 pm (UTC) - just an excuse to bust this out
For instance, Asians tend to age relatively slower

23rd-Mar-2011 09:51 pm (UTC) - Re: just an excuse to bust this out
Oh my gosh, I just laughed so hard at that. Totally saving!
24th-Mar-2011 12:32 am (UTC) - Re: just an excuse to bust this out
Clearly I did not get this memo.
23rd-Mar-2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, even though Masi Oko is as old of most of these guys, he just looks closer to Kaneda age wise (as well as physically, hairstyle, being from Japan etc.)
23rd-Mar-2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
I want to run to a corner and cry just knowing that they're actually going through with the movie. But the whitewashing can't be forgiven either way. I hate to see who they have lined up for the other roles. Or who knows, maybe even our female characters will just be erased entirely from the movie! I don't know if that'd be better or worse...

I don't really touch facebook, but this is worth getting on there for.
24th-Mar-2011 02:40 am (UTC)
Roger Ebert just tweeted the website's article!

24th-Mar-2011 02:52 am (UTC)
24th-Mar-2011 04:02 am (UTC)
Good ol' Ebert.
25th-Mar-2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Dude, Harry Shum could have totally brought in a good amount of people to this movie!

(Deleted comment)
26th-Mar-2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
If he's young enough to play a high schooler on TV, why wouldn't he be able to play a high school age gang leader/member for a movie part?

The issue of if a non-Japanese-but-still-Asian actor can play a Japanese character is very thorny, I won't throw in on that (and what descent is Harry Shum Jr then, if you know he's not Japanese? Just curious, as I don't know myself), but I think he has a lot of talent, and theoretically the part could have challenged him to show his range more.

And as for the tweet, I think the more dissatisfaction from the Asian American acting community the better.

Just my two cents.
26th-Mar-2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
what descent is Harry Shum Jr then, if you know he's not Japanese? Just curious, as I don't know myself

(Deleted comment)
27th-Mar-2011 02:59 am (UTC) - Pretty much agree with you, buuuut
That's light years away from lead roles in a film with a $200 million production budget.

That's rarely stopped studios from casting untested white leads. So knocking him on that basis is sort of reinforcing the whole "But PoC don't sell" BS studios like to spit out.
(Deleted comment)
26th-Mar-2011 07:44 pm (UTC)
Just something I thought maybe I could share here:

I mentioned to my college anime club about this casting choice, and suggested they should do a screening of Akira to raise awareness. They agreed it was a good idea, and are now trying to see if it's possible to schedule in the next month or so.

This could be a really great way to spread the word to people, especially for those of us on college campuses. Anime clubs are kind of ubiquitous nowadays, and who doesn't love watching Akira on a nice big screen?
27th-Mar-2011 01:51 am (UTC)
FYI: Because AKIRA is a licensed movie, unless your school has purchased the rights to show AKIRA publicly you may not be able to hold a screening of AKIRA. (When I was a student, my university did not own the rights to Star Wars so we could not put it on the projector or show it at a dorm party on a TV in the communal room because it would be considered a public showing. So when our floor wanted to do a Star Wars event, we held it in someone's dorm room because that would be a private showing.)

At my university, the anime club was unable to show any animes that were licensed by companies in the US at public events, stuff like AKIRA had to be screened at people's apartments and in dorm rooms.
27th-Mar-2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
There's actually a club at my school that handles those kinds of things, maybe I should see that they work in tandem with the anime club. I'll pass it along, as club leaders are more familiar with this kind of information. Thanks.
31st-Mar-2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
Cracked.com now has an article tackling the problematic aspects of the Akira remake, including highlighting the racebending.

(It does state at some point that the age change is more of a cardinal sin than the Whitewashing -which I def. could've done without- but since this is an article written by one of the lead columnists, it is some nice coverage.)
31st-Mar-2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
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