Racebending.com Protests The White Actor Choices For Akira.

Color me what?

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By Angelus - 3/23/2011
Do you remember last years casting controversy of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender? I doubt anyone on this site have forgotten about the controversy regarding Idris Elba casted as Heimdal in the upcoming Thor.

Well, raging bloggers and Hunger Games fans has voiced their opinion on the casting of the very white Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, who according to the book is olive-skinned with dark hair and grey eyes.
It seems the whitewashing of hollywood, yeah that's what it's called, have no bounds.

And the latest victim of this bleaching is no other than Warner Bros.’ live-action remake of Akira, the iconic Japanese animated film.
Deadline revealed a list that showed only caucasian actors running for the lead roles of Kaneda and Tetsuo. WB is only wanting actors whole ten years older than the teenage characters.

A site with no other name than "racebending.com" launched in 2009 to protest the whitewashing of Hollywood pictures, such as the Last Airbender. There were protest and petitions and a whole mess of works.
The site has remained pretty active in speaking out against the whitewashing of Hollywood ever since.

Here's what their Facebook page says on the Akira issue:
"On March 21st, 2011, Deadline.com reported that eight actors have been solicited for the roles of Tetsuo and Kaneda in AKIRA. All of the actors solicited were white. If not in a film called Akira, for characters named Kaneda and Tetsuo, when will Asian Americans get to star in a Warner Bros film?

Please virtually “attend” this petition event to show your support! It will provide us with a headcount so we know how many people feel strongly about this issue.

We would like to present the numbers from this petition to the studio to show them that all media consumers–not just Akira fans and not just Asian Americans–support keeping casting Asian Americans in the lead roles in AKIRA.

To add context: the U.S. remake of Akira is set in “neo-Manhattan,” so we’re not talking about injecting white characters into a Japanese setting. That being said, it’s sad that a remake of an Asian film doesn’t even seem willing to consider casting Asian (or other non-white) actors. A survey conducted by Racebending.com found that out of 241 Warner Bros. pictures released between 2000 and 2009, “only 2% had an Asian first-billed lead”; Asians make up 4.5% of the U.S. population at large and 10% of the population of present-day Manhattan.

The casting of white actors for Akira wouldn’t be such a big deal if Hollywood as a whole weren’t so overwhelmingly white. On a film-by-film basis, it doesn’t really matter if Katniss has blond hair or Kaneda is a white boy. However, both instances are part of a disturbing larger pattern that leads to the consistent underrepresentation of non-white people. It saddens me that this is a conversation we’re still having in the 21st century."

What do you guys think of this? Should one stay true to the material in regards of color, or is there room for a little of both? Should the studio not care at all and just do what they wanna do, even if that means completely whitewashing?
Source: Slashfilm.com
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17 Comments
tazmaniak - 3/23/2011, 12:53 PM
I'm black and I largely don't have a problem with it.Here's the bottom line.These are big budget movies and when a movie has a big budget, the studios want to put big names in the movies to draw in audiences and insure a return on their sizable investment.

Now, these are American produced films, aimed largely at an American audience.They need actors that the majority of Americans recognize.Now, while it's sad, there are no high profile young American actors of Asian descent that could carry the movies.There just isn't.

We may not like it, but that's the way it goes.Complaining about it will change nothing.They are not going to spend $150-$200 million on a movie like Akira and put two unknown Asian or Asian American actors in the lead roles.

I'm 29 years old and have been watching TV and films all my life.I know how things work and everyone else should, too.This kind of thing should not bother anyone anymore.That's just how it works.

Take Halle Berry, for instance.She is probably the most prominent black actresses in the US and the world.I was reading an article about her recently where she was saying how even she has difficulty obtaining roles.Again, it's sad, but true, but she is continuously told by producers she can't have a part because then they'd need to cast black actors as her parents, siblings, friends and love interests.And the problem is that there aren't enough A-List black actors to fill those roles, so she loses out on them.
SupahPhreak - 3/23/2011, 12:56 PM
I kind of care more about the age difference than the skin color right now. Why are they looking for actors in their 30's for characters who are teenagers? Joaquin Phoenix is on the list for Kaneda. He's in his 40's =[.
jazzman - 3/23/2011, 1:28 PM
@tazmaniak

u cant really say that cause all these actors was nobodys before.

i agree the movie is produce by a American studio but been a American does not mean only white actors who be consider. the casting should been open to every race who fit the age of the characters. how comes actor Anthony Mackie did not put in the mix of this casting since he started in "The Hurt Locker" or even Harry Shum Jr whos getting big for starring in Glee.

MagnaSolaris - 3/23/2011, 1:44 PM
They're still calling the characters Kaneda and Tetsuo?? it doesn't have any sense! If they want to americanize the story and the characters, call them with american names! Otherwise use asian actors, but i agree with the first comment.
ALmighty1080 - 3/23/2011, 3:52 PM
@magnasolaris
believe it or not, names are not dictated by your race. Your not born with a name, ur given one.
tazmaniak - 3/23/2011, 3:52 PM
@jazzman, yes, they were nobodys before, but they aren't now.

As for Anthony Mackie, the problem is that in this script, the main characters are brothers.If you cast one as a specific race, you'd have to cast the other as that same race.As for Harry Shum Jr., I have no clue who that is, so I'm not sure how "big" he's actually getting.Judging by his name, I'll assume he's of Asian descent.Again, the main characters are brothers, so the other lead would also have to be Asian.As I said before, are there any other Asian-American actors in that age range that would be able to lead a $200 million film?Are there any 2 prominent non-white actors around that age that could lead that movie?

No matter how we feel about the situation, the petition is ridiculous.The studio used their money to acquire the rights to the property.They're using their money to produce and promote it.It's up to them to hire who they believe will make the best film and make it profitable.It's not up to us or anyone else to try to tell them what to do with it.

And as far as we know, only the two male leads are going to be white.There are plenty of people in the movie who can be multi ethnic.
Minotauro - 3/23/2011, 5:45 PM
@Tazmaniak - Great directors use unknown actors in their movies. This movie should be no exception.
basilpesto - 3/24/2011, 12:19 AM
tazmaniak is black and 29, thus making him an expert on all things race and film.
AvengersAssemble - 3/24/2011, 2:10 AM
I agree. I'm sick of them changing races for roles when it's completely and utterly unnecessary. They also cast a white kid for the lead in Dragonball.
Stealthduck - 3/24/2011, 3:13 AM

Anything to do with race issues these days seems to provoke so much sh@t. Unfortunately, as posted earlier, the film industry is a business governed by people who want to, primarily, make money, not make you/us happy

Yanks taking Brit roles, Brits taking yank roles, everyone taking Asian roles. Nothing new here, really.

Oh, and does anyone else think it's sad that we think we should start any comments regarding race with "I'm a (insert race her)man/woman"?
superman7 - 3/24/2011, 3:38 AM
so they made rue black in hunger games...
brilaneb - 3/24/2011, 5:26 AM
It is called creative license. Get over it!
FanBoyBlack - 3/24/2011, 6:08 AM
Well I'm black and I think it is terrible.

As if no other race outside of white people have any value in Hollywood.

The CAN find great Asian actors and it will draw an audience. They just don't want to because they see Asians (and others) as inferior when it comes to making movies.
Skymac - 3/24/2011, 8:39 AM
What about this whole process in reverse.... Will Smith as a white, red haired, Irish cat in I am legend. Not to mention that movie was completely changed from the story and sucked huge balls!
jazzman - 3/24/2011, 12:37 PM
@tazmaniak

why cant two different race be brothers it worked well with "4 brothers" yes they are adopted but still.

any actor can lead a $200 million budget movie. add special fx and great marketing people will still see the movie.

yes there are plenty roles of multi ethnic characters and most likely they will be minor or supporting character not lead.
kalisto2010 - 3/24/2011, 2:30 PM
This is sad. Why does Hollywood believe the US audience is so racist? To the point where they're to afraid to cast an Asian actor because they think the audiences will will disapprove. Reality check. Will Smith is arguably the biggest movie star in the world, and guess what, he's Black!

When it's all said and done. It's the suits who're the bigots. Not the audiences, they've proven time and time again to embrace good acting, no matter what race the actor is. If Warner Bros were smart, they'd make a Cyborg movie. It has the potential to rival the Iron Man franchise both visually and economically. However it's never going to happen anytime soon.
TheGODDAMNEDDaddySmalls - 3/26/2011, 2:54 PM
@FanBoyBlack, how do you know how they see asians and others ? are you there at the meetings when they discuss who to cast ? None of us truly know the reasoning behind their casting decisions.

@kalisto2010 i honestly dont think Cyborg could carry a movie on his own, and Im black myself, I say that because he needs the Titans, otherwise the movie in my opinion would suck

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