Saturday, 23 April 2011

George Takei starts campaign against the whitewashed Akira movie

The Star Trek star has been making some comments on his Twitter account and in an interview with 'the Advocate' about the decision by Warner Bros to only cast caucasian characters in its adaption of the mega popular anime and manga, 'Akira'.

Really, at this point, is it even worth pointing out that their decision to cast white actors in Asian roles comes across as ever so more than slightly racist? They tried to get around that in the 'Last Airbender' movie by saying that since it's in a fantasy universe the characters didn't have a set race, but that didn't fly then and it doesn't fly now.

They seem to have co-opted pieces of 80s and 90s cyberpunk imagery into the movie that... COULD work, I guess. There was a heavy feature at the time was the impresson that Japanese corperate culture was going to spread to the rest of the world, leading to a heavy use of Asian marketing and signage in the background and backstory. This can be seen in 'Bladerunner', 'Neuromancer', 'Robocop', heck, even 'Batman Beyond', which itself was both largely influenced by the original'Akira' movie, BB's Jokerz gang was a reference to the clown motorcycle gang from the movie for example, as well as having some of the same production staff.

The idea that they originally seemed to be pedelling for the American 'Akira' movie was that after some future financial collapse, somehow New York was bought by the Japanese government. ...Not entirely sure how that'd work, but we'll let that slide. This would go towards explaining the reuse of Japanese imagery and names from the original comics/movie, AND would justify having a large cast of Asian American, if not Japanese American actors involved in the project.

But nope, they have a couple of white guys in the role of two 15 year old motorbike gang members called Kaneda and Tetuso... Whoops, I mean, two two guys playing two 30 year old white guys, one of whom is a doctor called Kaneda for some reason, and the other is a drug addict called Travis.

Eck, I mean come on. It's 2011 guys! Seeing Asian folk in tv shows and movies isn't exactly a novelty or scary experience like it might have been in the past! I feel like a bit of a prat for having to pointing out the obvious, but they're people just like everyone else, just give then leading roles instead of defaulting to white folk, jeez.

But hey, maybe Warner Bros are right. Maybe Film audiences are actually racist? I mean, 'the Prince and the Frog' didn't do that well for Disney, did it? Despite it being a well put together movie with an African American lead it didn't really do that great financially did it?

But that logic doesn't work either, as 'the Last Airbender', a project that the Indian American M. Night Shyamalan agree to because, according to an interview in one of the DVD extras for the cartoon show, his daughter was also a fan because Katara "looked like her" (tough break kid, Katara now looks like every other fantasy heroine now!), bombed in a spectacular fashion.

Blech, this is dumb. Humanity is dumb. I am irritated. Here is an overly cynical view of the Akira movie done some time back by talented internet animator, Harry Partridge,

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