"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible;
to be credible we must be truthful." - Edward R Murrow

The Last Airbender: Subliminal Racial Stereotyping by Nikky Raney

The Last Airbender in 3D was hard to appreciate once the plot and characters became far too familiar to America's racial stereotypes.

Without ever knowing the story or television show behind The Last Airbender, it was easy to grasp that it dealt with the elements of earth, water, wind and fire. The "Avatar" had the ability to control all the elements. The plot showed that those associated with the element of fire were bad, and the water element people were good.

The evil fire element characters all had one thing in common. They all looked Middle Eastern. The one that was "the most evil" had a long scruffy beard to accompany his look. The fire element characters were known to burn people's houses down, kill the water element people, and wanted to ruin the world.

Now, the good people were the water element people. Those of the water element were all white. The princess of the group had blonde hair and blue eyes. The people of water were tortured, attacked, killed, burned, etc. by the Fire people. The Fire people also wanted to be the most powerful in the world and take over and take down everyone else.

The way that the fire element was burning down the houses of the other elements was comparable to that of 9/11.

Maybe it seems like over-analyzing, but by the end of the movie it just became too obvious.

Now, this is the part that gets me. The "Avatar" himself is looks as though he is of Asian decent. The Avatar is the one that brings all the elements together and saves the day. M. Night Shyamalan is of Asian decent. This is not to say Shyamalan is racist, but the movie itself seemed a bit too familiar. Shyamalan thinks that those who find the film to be racist are racist themselves. Someone doesn't have to be racist to think that making Middle Eastern characters bad and Caucasian characters good.

Shyamalan tells India Movies Online:

‘Well, you caught me. I'm the face of racism. I'm always surprised at the level of misunderstanding, the sensitivities that exist. As an Asian-American, it bothers me when people take all of their passion and rightful indignation about the subject and then misplace it. Here's the reality: first of all, the Uncle Iroh character is the Yoda character in the movie, and it would be like saying that Yoda was a villain. So he's Persian."

This movie was adapted from a cartoon, and there were many children in the theater. Children are impressionable, but probably didn't catch on to the racial undertones.

Shyamalan not thinking that the film could be misconstrued as racist doesn't seem honest. When filming a scene where Middle Easterns are burning down the Caucasian village it's hard to believe that 9/11 or the war in Iraq didn't cross his mind.

This may be considered my first movie review, but I am not reviewing the movie as much as the thought process with the casting. The children probably appreciated it - it was a great movie as far as the plot goes. But when this movie is put in cinemas across the world; other countries may not find the stereotyping as subliminal.

(Images courtesy of Photobucket)

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