susanreads: People of pallor against racism: text on brown gradient (anti-racism)
Today's topic is whitewashing ... and a positive response.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a cartoon in which the various human characters are all from societies based on Asian and Inuit cultures. Late last year, the casting was announced for a live-action movie "The Last Airbender", with all four leads played by white people. Later it was changed so that the "villain" is to be played by Dev Patel. This is not an improvement.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words: racebending.com has photos that make the point instantly.
The fannish response can be found at [livejournal.com profile] aang_aint_white and in the racebending community on LJ.

Justine Larbalestier's recent book Liar is about a black teenager with natural (kinky) hair. The cover for the forthcoming US edition shows a white girl with straight hair. I first read about this some time last week; here it is discussed by Alaya Dawn Johnson on the angryblackwoman blog.

I've seen several other posts about each of these things recently (in and out of the IBARW feed). They are not two single incidents, but examples of a sustained practice in Hollywood and in publishing.

In Proposal: Open Source Book Re-Covery Project, [personal profile] coffeeandink suggests a project to create a library of alternative covers for whitewashed books and other media. Lots of people have offered support already, including web space, software skills and artwork. What a brilliant idea! The project will also take suggestions of books that need re-covering.
susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
March of the Penguins, which my brother gave me for Xmas. (Yes, I've got a bit of a backlog. It's got nothing on my books backlog.)

There's some excellent footage, and they don't pretend the penguins mate for life, or cover up all the natural sound with music and voiceover (oh, Hollywood, what low standards I've got used to).

The Hollywood twee wasn't as egregious as I thought it might be; there are lines like "the reunion is a joyous one", which is ... kinda plausible, really.

But then, near the end their anthropomorphicness -ity -ization does a flip and it's suddenly wrong and jarring.

First, it's "unimaginable" that a mother penguin who's lost her chick tries to steal somebody else's. Um, maybe if you have no imagination. That must have sensitised me to the comment a bit later where it's "surprising" that mothers and chicks are so closely bonded when they've only known each other a few days. Now I'm not a particularly observant person and have zero maternal instincts, but hello-o-o-o, Earth to scriptwriter: let me send you a copy of "Evolution for Beginners".

Assuming Morgan Freeman didn't write his own narration, I couldn't spot who did in the credits; am I being tewwibly gender-essentialist in guessing it was a man?

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