Have you heard of Avater: The Last Airbender? Neither had I until I saw the movie promotions. The Last Airbender is the latest Paramount picture to hit the motion screen. It's famous for it's American cult following who, much like 'Buffy: The Vampire Slayer', are fans of the television series. Why are we taking up the topic of Avatar: The Last Airbender? Because it's also the latest American racebender.
The concept of racebending is noted as early as the 19th Century. Racebending is my term and encompasses all racial groups - usually you see the term delineated by ethnicity and race such as 'Blackface, Yellowface etc'. In early American theatrical productions Caucasian American actors would don caked layers of dark make-up in order to portray themselves as African-Americans in roles typically designed to be comical and 'coon-like'.
Those roles morphed into other stereotypical portrayals of Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans. In example, over 40 American films revolved around the role of Charlie Chan, an Asian American detective from 1925-1981, in which the character spoke English with a harsh accent, was extremely deferential, and very unassuming - all stereotypical traits of Asian Americans.
One of the arguements from the movie production theaters is that a cast made up of a large amount of minority actors in leading roles will never be successful mainstream blockbusters. So they must replace the minority characters with white actors. Are they really serious? Yes. But, it's a pitiful excuse. It they want an example of a film with a successful meddling of an equal number of minority and Caucasian actors all they have to do is look at the 1992 film 'The Last of the Mohicans'. The main character Hawkeye, played by Caucasian american Daniel-Day Lewis, is a white adopted son of a Native American tribe. His brother Uncas, played by Eric Schweig, is of Inuvialuit (Native Canadian) heritage. The Last of the Mohicans debuted as the Number 1 film on it's opening weekend, generated $76 Million in profits, and won an Academy Award. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzn4VZr1X6E&feature=related
The policy of racebending needs to change or we will continuously end up with movies like Avatar:The Last Airbender with amazing special effects and horrifying racial insensitivity.