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we saw wut u did thar, paramount
I've been a supporter of this cause since the beginning and joined… 
1st-Nov-2009 04:09 pm
I've been a supporter of this cause since the beginning and joined the Facebook Racebending group very early on (think back to when we had no idea how Noah Ringer looked like, when Jesse McCartney was still cast as Zuko, and before we even thought of the term "racebending").  I decided to share a recent thread I posted on the group's discussion board.
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Lately, I've been really disillusioned. It seems that for every supporter we have for this cause, there are ten who are adamant in believing that this isn't a problem at all. It's hard not to read all those pro-casting comments. I've read everything from the usual "Aang looks white to me," to "Katara acts like a regular American teenager!", to other pretty outrageous statements like, "I'm Norwegian and when I watched the show I saw the Water Tribe as Norwegian!  THERE CAN'T BE A WORLD WITHOUT WHITE PEOPLE!!  Dao Le thinks they're Asian because HE'S ASIAN.  WE ALL SEE OURSELVES IN THE SHOW!!"  (Dao Le is the animatic editor for the show who does not support the casting.)  I wish people would wake up and realize how ignorant they are and that they're defending racism.

As mentioned in another thread, this needs to stop being a (largely) fan movement. There are some supporters that were never fans of the show, but I feel that we don't have enough of them.

This has probably been mentioned before, but I seriously think we should all band together and try to contact Oprah. She covers a lot of gender, race, class, etc. issues that go largely unnoticed by her general audience until she brings it up. That's when people start caring. This is the Oprah Effect.

I've been working on an e-mail and a letter, but I want to fit so many things in that it's getting a little lengthy. I'm trying to tie this controversy together with other examples of yellowface in the past and present, cultural appropriation, tokenism, etc. but I'm afraid it might be a little too much information in one letter. Have any suggestions? I just want this problem to appear like the dire one it is because not enough people see anything wrong with the practice of yellowface.

She probably gets thousands of letters a month, but I still think it's worth a shot. I recall watching one of her shows in which she invited one of her viewers to be featured because she got hundreds of letters about that woman (I don't remember what that woman did, but that isn't the point). There's strength in numbers and I think we should all try to contact her.

Honestly, we need someone that's well known in the entertainment industry if we want people to start taking us seriously.

To write her a letter:

Harpo Productions
P. O. Box 909715
Chicago, IL 60607

or

Oprah Winfrey Show
Harpo Studios
1058 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60607

To e-mail Oprah:
https://www.oprah.com/plugform.jsp?plugId=220

To e-mail the producers of the Oprah Winfrey Show:
https://www.oprah.com/ord/plugform.jsp?plugId=216
Comments 
2nd-Nov-2009 04:54 am (UTC)
That's actually a very good idea... but Oprah's show is connected to Paramount, right? :\ So I'm not sure how efficient it would be.
2nd-Nov-2009 05:57 am (UTC)
I'm actually not too sure. I should look into that. If Harpo Productions is indeed a subsidiary of Viacom, then that would be a problem. ._.

Damn you, Viacom! *shakes fist*
2nd-Nov-2009 06:05 am (UTC)
I googled it to check, and it seems to be so... or at the very least, her show airs on CBS, which is related to Viacom. The wikipedia entry says CBS was originally called Viacom, then it became CBS and Viacom became a spin-off, but CBS still controls what they air, not Viacom? @_@ It's kind of confusing, but there's definitely a connection of some sort. Still worth a shot, though.
2nd-Nov-2009 04:58 am (UTC)
I have to say this because I just got back from watching Boondock Saints II and it had a The Last Airbender trailer with it.

Here's something I realized for myself. I probably would have been completely fine with Noah Ringer being Aang, IF, no one else in this world was white. Like if Noah Ringer, as the last of the Air Nomads, was the last of that "race" (read: white)
IDEALLY, I would love to have had an entirely Asian cast but there has to be small compromises before that.

Now I'm not saying that I hate Noah Ringer being Aang, because I would be lying. I don't think he's -that- bad. (Of course I would prefer Brandon Soo Hoo hands down, but that's another thing) It's just the fact that in the series, the different elements are represented by a different race. Katara & Sokka are an entirely different race from Aang. They LOOK different. So why make them the same now? freaking M. Night and co. has me asking too many "Why" questions in regards to this movie.
2nd-Nov-2009 05:00 am (UTC)
well...maybe not "completely" fine....
2nd-Nov-2009 05:26 am (UTC)
I actually think that would bother me more. Like "omg the last white person, MUST SAVE ALL THE POOR COLORED PEOPLE"
I would prefer it to have Aang/the heroes their proper race and everyone else white, if it had to come to that. :/
2nd-Nov-2009 05:47 am (UTC)
Yeah IA. Aang was the one I wanted Asian the most. Followed by Sokka because he's a type of character who usually isn't played by an Asian.

Except the girl in me who wanted to see a lovely brown girl play Katara. It's a little hard to explain, but seeing a white girl as Katara frustrates me the most in some crazy way.

Except for the part where I wanted no white people at all because it's not always about white people.
3rd-Nov-2009 12:24 am (UTC)
It's not hard to explain at all: seeing the canonically dark-skinned Katara played by a white actress shattered a lot of people's Paper Mirror: http://www.metrokitty.com/?id=271

It's the same betrayal fans of Earthsea felt over the whitewashed Sci-Fi--excuse me, SyFy--channel adaptation (http://www.infinitematrix.net/faq/essays/noles.html) --particularly those who regarded Earthsea as the first fantasy epic that gave them a role as something other than villains, exotic local color, or Benighted Natives.
3rd-Nov-2009 12:38 am (UTC)
Oh that's really an interesting comic. Though I must say I'm white so idk how much that applies. I guess it's just that I want girls to see themselves in Katara - a lovely brown girl who is a hero in every sense of the word - and I'm so angry that that's taken away. I guess I'm just so so sick of girls not getting their fair share that any wrong against a woman just hits me harder. hm.
3rd-Nov-2009 06:04 am (UTC)
"I guess it's just that I want girls to see themselves in Katara - a lovely brown girl who is a hero in every sense of the word - and I'm so angry that that's taken away."

That's one of the things that Ursula LeGuin sought to achieve in Earthsea:

"I was a little wily about my color scheme. I figured some white kids (the books were published for "young adults") might not identify straight off with a brown kid, so I kind of eased the information about skin color in by degrees--hoping that the reader would get 'into Ged's skin' and only then discover that it wasn't a white one."

(A point I've seldom seen addressed is that avoidance of heroes of color is an insult--albeit a far subtler one--to white viewers, too; Hollywood evidently credits white viewers with the ability to identify and sympathize with transforming robots, commando penguins, kung-fu pandas, and pointy-eared space aliens, but not with fellow human beings whose melanin content differs from their own.)
3rd-Nov-2009 06:06 am (UTC)
Hollywood evidently credits white viewers with the ability to identify and sympathize with transforming robots, commando penguins, kung-fu pandas, and pointy-eared space aliens, but not with fellow human beings whose melanin content differs from their own
It's stupid and ridiculous. I can never say I've related to a character quite so much as I have with Katara.
2nd-Nov-2009 03:38 pm (UTC)
Touche. That actually never occurred to me. I know that we couldn't have the Fire nation being white because that would just throw so many people up in arms, but I don't want them to be Earth benders either.
2nd-Nov-2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Here's something I realized for myself. I probably would have been completely fine with Noah Ringer being Aang, IF, no one else in this world was white. Like if Noah Ringer, as the last of the Air Nomads, was the last of that "race" (read: white)

Yeah, you know, I was prepared to give that one up too. It still wouldn't have been internally-consistent with the world, but I understood that most people see Aang as white, and that a white lead character might make people feel more comfortable.

I just didn't expect them to make the obviously characters of color white kids, too.
3rd-Nov-2009 02:34 am (UTC)
I have always felt the exact opposite: If Aang were actually cast with a young Asian-American actor, I probably could have lived with the rest of the cast and all its "diversity". Probably... eh... probably not, but more-so than the other.
3rd-Nov-2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Hmm. I can certainly see people's arguments in favor of an Asian Aang.

I guess it's a moot point either way, what with how the casting ended up.
2nd-Nov-2009 06:17 am (UTC)
Dao Le's a woman, btw.
2nd-Nov-2009 08:26 am (UTC) - Suggestion
Anonymous
This HAS been discussed before, at length. And you are right about Oprah receiving hundreds of thousands of letters a month.

What we need is something eye-catching; something her staff and she can't ignore and will make them want to explore it.

If possible, a very super-awesome video of racebending, our efforts and what we're trying to accomplish. We could use clips from protest videos, media and soundbites from interviews from people who support our efforts. Using clips/artwork from the show may be good, too and so would mentioning the 'Yellow Face' documentary. If Oprah were to promote that, then it would REALLY take off

Is this doable? Realistic?
2nd-Nov-2009 03:48 pm (UTC) - my suggestions...
I was hoping someone would start this. uhg.. my mom writes to Oprah lol, but that's another story...

Anyways... I too am working on a letter for friends and acquaintances in the entertainment industry (and friends of friends), and yes, it's getting very lengthy. As far as writing, my only suggestion --as I'm sure others may have stated already-- would be to write a good first sentence, continue with one paragraph about whitewashing in Hollywood, then go on to write what you probably already have; elaborating on the issue and it's history, yellowfacing.

Secondly, I think we need a "Dear Oprah" letter on the Racebending.com site for others to reference in their own letters, without having to write out a long web address, so as others will not have to write such lengthy a letter as well: short description of the issue, and a link to the "Oprah letter" on Racebending.com [example: "racebending.com/oprah_letter/"] <--simple.
2nd-Nov-2009 09:32 pm (UTC) - Another Suggestion
Anonymous
I was thinking maybe we should also try to contact CNN. A reporter there, Soledad O'brien, is part of CNN's Special Investigation Unit. In the past few years she's made and hosted several documentaries on CNN called 'Black in America' and just recently, 'Latino in America'. I dunno if she's gonna make an 'Asians in America' or whatever, but I think it's worth a try.
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