More White Washing in the Film Industry

By Terry Keleher May 25, 2009

Here we go again. Seems like too many producers and casting directors still don’t seem to get it, despite repeated public outcries about the exclusion of people of color in films. Julianne Henry, an Illustration major at UMASS Dartmouth, has a sharp critique at Campus Progress of M. Night Shyamalan’s new film, The Last Airbender. a live action film based on the Nickelodeon TV animated series called Avatar. Casting Director Dee Dee Ricketts and Producer Frank Marshall chose three white actors to play the Tibetan and Inuit main characters in the film. Henry writes, “Blackface, a theater tradition in which white actors would present themselves as African American characters using stage paint, has long been taboo. But M. Night Shyamalan plans to replicate such offensive casting with Asian characters in his forthcoming film…” She concludes, “It may be too much to expect Hollywood to learn from this experience, but we can hope that they will decide that whitewashing is out.” You can read her full piece at And, if you’re moved to talk action, check out the efforts by Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) to pressure Paramount to stop these kinds of discriminatory practices.