The Last Airbender: It’s Like Tai Chi Meets Racism!


This doesn't accord with the water people I remember from "Waterworld".

Something is wrong somewhere.
Favorite Failbender review by far. Just don't imitate M.Night and start jacking off to your own reflection in the mirror anytime soon.
Indians as imperialistic, world-ruining villains, eh? Someone's got a cultural inferiority complex. Oh well. At least he won't win a Man Booker for it.
I'd just like to correct something implied in the review, and said so often that it's become something of an article of faith, leaving it immune to necessary correction: The Sixth Sense is not Shyamalan's best film. That honor goes to the underappreciated Unbreakable.

All derisive comments regarding his work from the last third (or so) of Signs on are, of course, perfectly justified. The trailers for this one looked marginally interesting, but I've been fully and officially put off from spending my hard-earned cash on it.
I'm going to repeat "Bring me ALL YOUR ELDERLY" ad nauseam for the rest of the week. Thank you.
I'm sorry Lindy, but the battle for funniest Airbender review clearly goes to the i09 Review, with gems like this:
This is the part where I would insert a quick plot synopsis of the film, but it's really unnecessary - Shyamalan has boiled every epic heroic story of the past 20 years down to its most basic, primal soup-y essence, so he can spray it all over the audience, in a kind of Hero's-Journey bukkake. You will be finding chunks of Joseph Campbell's calcified spooge behind your ears for three days after watching this film, no matter how many times you bathe.
"The script appears to have been run through Google Translate and back a few hundred times." That was funny when James Thurber first said it, as if. Kudos!
M.Night Uses Reverse Psychology

The actual genders and races of what the elements represent are in Rodney St.Michael's book, Sync My World: Thief's Honor GA SK. (

Air = Yellow "race" = Males = Scholars.

Water = Small Browns = Females = Shamans.

Earth = Blacks = Lesbian = Social Ubuntu Business Class.

Fire = Whites = Gays = Military, Militant Business Class.

Ether or Metal = Big Browns = Bisexuals = Working Class, Bi-military

(females & bis go together like Katara & Sokka or brown females and males).

Therefore Aang should be Chinese.

Katara should be a Malay like a Filipina.

The Earth Kingdom should be African.

Zuko should be White like Hitler, Alexander the Gay or Gen. Arthur McArthur.

The Fire Nation's army should be like the fiery Sacred Band of Thebes (an ancient elite gay army that Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell troops would be envious of) or the Sturmabteilung, the much-feared homosexual stormtroopers of Hitler.

And the Slumdog Millionaire (casted as Zuko) should be Sokka.

This film is just as messed up as the movie Angels and Demons. The branding of the priests were incorrect.

But anyway, from the guy who gave you the Sixth Sense, which did not portray childhood schizophrenia accurately or anywhere near the real world, what do you expect?

Bisexuals love horror and terror. They also scam people, just like the Wizard of Oz. The old Oz film which is also about the Elements is understandably all-white because they were ignorant back then. People have higher standards now, and realism is a must.

But M.Night, the Wizard of South Asia also has lessons for everyone after conning them:

1) Clearly, when people don't play roles that fit them, everything is messed up. (e.g. "male" clergy in what should be a female realm, forbidding gays in the military which is their territory)

2) Whites are not fit to play the leading roles of Air and Water in the world scene. Leave that to the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia).

3) Arabs are not necessarily the greatest evil in the world. Occasionally, they float like Ether to the ranks of Water. It is fiery whites that fit the role of Lucifer or Satan.

4) By acquiring objective reviews from leading critics, they have agreed themselves that these are all factual objective realities.

Thus, the Wizard, even if he is a con man, is also an accidental pseudo teacher. Partly, it's called sunyata or "emptiness."

It's fine if the film sucks and if M Night hasn't still been forgiven for his last 4 films. Highly understandable, based on merits/films alone.

But Airbender = Racist? 'Well deserved grief'???
That's like trying to call Star Wars 'revisionist history'. You're taking it too literally and trying to force an imagination-shaped peg into a earthbound-reality--shaped hole.
Lindy, you might want to study the source material, the nickolodeon TV cartoon: an animated hero's journey written by two white comic book/video game geeks.
There was already a whole misfire of a "protest" launched by rabid 'cry-wolf'-philes citing racism in the casting because M. Night didn't cast tibetans -or what have you- in all the roles.

Total Bullshit.

It's hard to cry foul on casting or racism when the original source material was
b) fantasy
c) fantasy fiction set in another world/universe where real physics don't apply, let alone earthbound race assumptions (ex: please note giant flying 'beaver' as you cited yourself) - note also continents unsubtley shaped like dragons. The races we know do not exist in this world. FIRE and BLOOD CAN BE 'BENT' (ala telekinetics) IN THIS fictional WORLD. FLYING MONKEY LEMURS and MORTAL MOON GODDESS PRINCESSES are a given in this world.
e)the "races" in the avatar-the last airbender story were allegories at best in the way that Narnia's Talking Animals also aren't a 'RACE' we can compare to reality, but a tool in storytelling, a template to be laid over our reallife issues for comparisons.
f) mostly voiced, and I mean all but 2 main actors (zuko, and arguably Iroh), by 'WHITE' actors. (The creators of the show even had Mark 'space farmboy' Hamill playing the Fire Nation's head honcho).

SO, Wow, the film director had the GALL to cast white folk in roles previously played by WHITE FOLK. How horrible! Que Injust! TAI CHI RACISM IS AFOOT!
g) one last thing: the series was more purposefully AMBIGUOUS about race than a tampon commercial (sure, the water nation dressed like Inuits and lived on ice, BUT they acted like tai chi masters, carry weapons with a nod to australian aboriginals, and they all have BIG ROUND BLUE eyes. Also note the non asian Sokka, for one, who acts & sounds like a wonderful homage to non-asian stoner animation character Shaggy, and the kids say 'dude' and 'like' alot, a bit like little annoying white californian valley girls ).
In fact, an amazing number of the characters have pale blue and pale green eyes and very few actually (general Iroh, for example) have what most innocent observers (or fans of animation) would call asian -or even vaguely asian- features. Their skin isn't pink often, and there's martial arts, so they must be ASIAN?
'Ah so',... I see the racism afoot indeed, grasshopper: Martial arts and zen philosophy automatically means that character could only possibly be asian AND could only be cast then with an asian actor??
Hell, even in the new Star Trek, Sulu's played by a korean, Uhuru isn't played by an african-american but a hispanic, scotty isn't played by a Scot and the old country doctor from Georgia is played -quite well actually- by a fucking Kiwi: i.e. race should not dictate casting. It's ACTING. It's a professional level version of Let's Play Pretend.)

All in all, your rant does have the potential to point out racism. Maybe.
Your readers expect better, Lindy.
I have seen this actual man in an actual coffee shop with his actual family (wife and two kids), which suggests that he does sometimes encounter the actual world, but we're talking snotty Philadelphia suburbs here, so I wouldn't give it too much weight. Let's all remember that this is the man who gave us a movie where Mel Gibson saved Bucks County, PA from aliens using Jesus. As if Mel Gibson needed the encouragement.
@Rev Smith, I've seen you're comments before and I must say, they are BRIMMING with ignorance of how Hollywood works and privilege. Also with complete ignorance of anime.

Yes, the grief over the casting IS well-deserved. And again, I see all of the same lazy, uneducated excuses made by people who simply don't get it.

I think YOU should re-study the source material. While not explicitly stated to be Asian/Inuit, given the overall attention to detail in regards to the culture, background, architecture and everything else included, it's safe to say that the characters are NOT even close to being Caucasian or 'ambiguous'. You don't go to the trouble of building a world with such care and that is so tied to the real world, that you deliberately exclude the people who live in that region.

Just because Mike and Bryan are White does not mean they can't write a story that features non-White characters. They had numerous cultural consultants on the show and did their very best to avoid the stereotypes (both good and bad) often associated with Asian/Inuit characters.

1.) Being fiction/fantasy does not mean real-world standards don't apply in regards to things like race. 'Lord of the Rings' took place in a fantasy European world and all the characters were White. A;TLA took place in a fantasy Asian world, so what else should we expect the characters ethnicities to be? Certainly not Caucaisan or even 'ambiguous'.

2.)Bart Simpson is voiced by a 40 something year-old woman. The Genie from 'Aladdin was voice by Robin Williams. Simba of 'The Lion King' is voiced by ...a HUMAN. In voice acting, it is the VOICE that matters most, NOT how the voice actor looks or their ethnicity.

3.) The casting call specifically called for 'Caucasian or any other ethnicity'. If they wanted to be inclusive, it would have read 'All Ethnicities may apply', etc. Every casting agent spoken to about this has stated quite plainly that, when a casting call reads like the former, they won't bother contacting their non-Caucasian clients. Because the casting showed a clear preference. They WANTED Caucasian actors and they GOT Caucasian actors.

You are claiming the characters are 'ambiguous' because M.Night made that claim. The show is stylized in the same way anime is. M. Night doesn't know ANYTHING about anime and clearly, neither do you.

Watch this video.…

Anime is stylized and also; MANY Asians dye their hair and there are Asians with BLUE EYES. In the show, in case you were unaware, eye color is synonymous with the characters nation of origin. Since it's fantasy, why CAN'T the characters have a different eye color than we would expect from the 'norm'?

The fact that the world is stylistically Asian, right down to the food and the authentic Chinese written calligraphy, YES they ARE ASIAN.

Noah Ringer had NO PREVIOUS acting experience and yet HE was cast as the lead for this film. Not to mention the fact that the acting has been getting SLAMMED by nearly everyone who's seen it. You can only suspend so much disbelief. If an Asian kid was cast as Harry Potter, there would be an uproar because, no matter how talented an actor he may be, Harry is described as a Caucasian English boy. Author Neil Gaimen turned down every offer to make his book 'Anansi Boys' into a film. Why? Because his lead characters were both Black and studios wanted to change them to White. And if you knew anything about Anansi, you would know that he is an AFRICAN God.

There is NO reason you can't have an actor who is not only talented and can play the role well, but actually looks like they COULD BE that person.

To Hollywood, it's all about who THEY THINK will sell a film. And Hollywood execs. think people will only see films that star CAUCASIAN leads/heroes.

Now if you can prove me wrong, by all means, go right ahead. But those of us over at have done REAL RESEARCH. We've spoken to casting directors, writers, producers and numerous other people who work in the film industry. And quite frankly, I think their word holds more weight than yours.
@11 and Lindy: Word, word, worddity word.

And I had not heard that about Anansi Boys. While it doesn't really surprise me that the film industry wanted to make the main characters white, it does make me die a little inside.
regardless of how you feel about the movie you are talking about it. good or bad. you are giving FREE plublicity. so if you really don't like it don't talk about it. cause if you do it just may sparks someone interest and they may buy or rent the movie, thus producing more money.