I've been thinking we've been focusing a lot on the Asian aspect of Avatar, and rightly so. But what about the influence of Inuit culture? I think the show makes it clear that the Water Tribe and its inhabitants are inspired by Inuits/ Northern Aboriginals (even if their bending techniques come from Chinese martial arts). However, I think we should also open a discussion on how this should affect the casting of Katara and Sokka.
To tell you the truth, when I saw Dev Patel's picture and his likeness to Sokka, I too was on the 'omg Dev should play Sokka!' bandwagon. I mean, they just look so similar! But is that really all that we should be considering? Wheter they 'look' similar because they've got brown skin? Because the fact is, there are different cultures that have brown skin. Thus, by that criteria, a light-skinned black male could play Sokka just fine, simply because they look alike.
The thing is, I find the idea of Dev Patel playing Sokka a little problematic as it creates a problem that's similar to what we've been fighting: it takes a culture and uses it, while barring the actual members of that culture to participate in the movie as they rightly should. What I mean is this: it's important to give opportunities to all actors that suffer from a lack of representation in Hollywood simply because they are not white. However, since Sokka and Katara are from a tribe that draws its main inspiration from Inuit/ Northern Aboriginal culture, I would like for actual Inuit or Aboriginal actors to get a chance to play the roles of Sokka and Katara.
After all, would it be right to deny Inuit/Northern Aboriginals the opportunity to play the two major characters whose culture are inspired by their own? Would it be right to just put in a South Asian because they have similar skin-tone? Would it be right for us to champion Asian rights but then completely and utterly dismiss the members of Inuit culture? It would be like all the people saying "yeah, the Avatar world is mostly inspired by Asian culture, but that doesn't mean the characters are MEANT to be Asian."
Again, I understand the sentiment that 'anything's better than white' but I think we should think further on this subject. I'm sure there are plenty of amazing actors of Inuit/Aboriginal descent that can play the roles and look kick ass while doing so, just as we all know that there are plently of fantastic actors of Asian descent able to play the roles that should be rightfully theirs.
But as always this is a discussion so talk away! Yay for this comm!