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So I haven't really been that active in the past month bcz of work, which I am now finished with, but I've still been able to somewhat keep up with things, sort of. Anyways, I came across this post on IMDb that is by far the craziest argument I'd heard yet. Once you reach the bottom I think it will speak for itself:

Subject: "Clearing Up What 'Racism' Is..."

"Okay, regardless of what "side" you're on, people in general here need to understand what real RACISM is, or more specifically, what it isn't. Why? Because people, mostly the anti-casters, are throwing the word around like beads at Mardi-Gras. "Racism", is an act of the conscious mind. It is something that can be changed and debated. It's not hard for someone who wishes to to cease being racist, and for the most part, most of the world has eliminated a great deal of this.

Now, what folks are more speaking of when they say "racism" here, is actually something much worse. PERCEPTION of Race, is what we're actually dealing with, and this is a much harder problem to solve. Why? Because it's conditioned. It's something we learned as kids that peppered the way we perceive people of other races in the future, or more accurately, how we DON'T perceive our own. America gets the most flak for this, because, to all you folks who don't live in the West, the white dominance of this side of the world is so fvcking monolithic, that we don't even realize its there! Even the best and brightest of us tend to view our own whiteness, as a sort of tabula-rasa normalcy, and all other races as being its own special difference in and of itself.

Typically in character creation over here, if you have a white-character, you can expect pages of backstory, an elaborate costume, a signature weapon, a weird hairstyle...because he NEEDS those things, see, because he's white, and therefore a blank slate of average normality. But if we're making a black character, you can expect...well, not much beyond that. "Nah, he doesn't need a costume! He's black! That's JUST as weird as wearing a spiderprint leotard!"

Now, is this a problem? You're damn right it is. What can we do to solve it? Well that should be obvious; make more lead roles reflect other races. And in the context of "Airbender", this is exactly what the series did. The problem of course, is that it wasn't as recognizable. Nobody making Avatar wanted anyone to focus on Aang's Chinese-ness, because it might get in the way of just seeing him as a person. And this, of course, meant that to American casters, there was nothing out-of-the-question in casting a Caucasian for Aang.

You see, main characters don't usually get drawn in animation as having major racial identifiers. This is usually reserved for characters whose race is "foreign" to whoever is making the cartoon. It's especially ambiguous between Asians and Whites.

Come on now, you know this. Look at a typical anime or manga. Look at the lead character. Now of course, he or she is probably speaking Japanese, but ignore that and just take a look. If you were white, and didn't remember that the anime style signifies Japan, and looked at that character, would you have any trouble, or even hesitate to assume the character was white? Not to lead, but probably not. Dragonball, Naruto, Sailor Moon, especially Cowboy Bebop, they looked like they could go either way right? Because the artists didn't think to include racial identifiers. Why should they? The people they're making the manga for aren't the foreigners, they know what race they are, and to them, that race is "NORMAL", so it's only everything "not normal" that gets an identifier added to it, like the occasional American guy with an extremely bony, squared jaw and smaller eyes.

Now, that there is an example of another race doing the same thing, but under the bias of themselves. In reality, everyone does it to an extent. Perception of Race, from self-view to steroetypes, it tends to be a product of its time. Kids back in the 70s wondered without a hint of irony, why their black and asian friends bothered dressing up for Halloween, because "they already ARE something!". See that? To them, a black guy dressing up as a vampire made as much sense as a vampire dressing up as...anything.

Today of course, we find sentiments like that disturbing and unimaginable, because our global perception of race has improved. We can cry foul and sneer when our grandparents make offhand racial statements without realizing they'd been out of line, but it's like hitting Pavlov's Dog for thinking it was dinnertime when it heard a bell. It's almost HARD-WIRED. It only really improves when the next generation starts off better. When are gay folks going to starts seeming perfectly normal to everyone? Try 20 to 30 years from now when it becomes so commonplace and normal that the newest generation of kids perceives them as such.

So in the end, it's really all about time. I lean towards "Last Airbender" having chosen the actors the way they ought to have been, by talent and by likeness first, and everything else second. I don't think there was ever any intent to offend or that the casting of whites was anything more than the best folks for the job just happening to be white. I don't think there's a major wrong to be righted here or anything to be truly angry about. I think if anything, it just shows us that as far as we've come, there's a ways to go yet, and nothing is going to happen as quick as we'd like. So I say, let's not let it ruin that fact that a fully realized "Avatar" film is actually entering the broader public spectrum, and looks to kick Summer box-office ass :)"

As angry as this made me, I was still a bit amused at its odd-ball attempt. Thought I'd share that.


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