Archive for December, 2009

One Photo: Fresh Prince Flashback

Back in the day of cassettes, VCRs, Nintendos, cross colors, gold herringbone chains, and hats worn to the side. The 90s.

PD2 Cologne

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The AVATAR Movies… Obvious Racism???

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Disclaimer: This may be an uncomfortable article for those sensitive or oblivious on issues of race and reality. In that case, you may not want to continue reading.
Okay, so last night I was coaxed into seeing James Cameron’s Avatar. Why coaxed, well because I never planned to see it, for some reason or another the movie never interested me, but my friend had an extra ticket and wanted to go with someone. I watched the movie at an imax theater, so I must say it looked absolutely amazing. But let me get to the meat of why I’m making this random posting. Well, I hate to have to go here, but, okay how can I put this in a “PC” way…. the movie Avatar by James Cameron, has “twisted diversity” (you guys can interpret that how you want). Nah, I think that doesn’t give the proper gist of what I’m trying to say, Avatar has “backwards/ignorant diversity” which made the movie completely wack in my opinion (and that’s putting it mildly).

Avatar consists of “humans” and “aliens/natives”. The native people, as you can see from the movie trailer, are blue. I guess the movie is placed sometime in the far future because the humans are very advanced. What riddled me though, was the fact that all the natives were african-american, hispanic, or native-american… and when I say all I mean ALL. While on the opposite end all of the humans, all of whom were scientist or in the army, were european-american (aka caucasion). And that, that was extremely perplexing. I caught on to this about 30 or so minutes into the movie when the main native girl Netyiri, played by Zoe Saldana, brought the main human Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, to see all the other natives. I honestly don’t want to drag this on and on, but let’s just ask the obvious questions– James Cameron, are you seriously telling me you couldn’t have any main human characters be african-american, asian, hispanic, etc? a main asian scientist? you couldn’t have a main african-american army guy? or vice versa? You couldn’t have one european-american native/alien? Are you really telling me these things?
Okay, now if I had to play devil’s advocate I’d say well, maybe it is okay that the natives were people of african or native-american/indian type descent, because typically the people being called “natives” in a country are. Places like Africa, South America (pre it being called America), and North America (mainly the US, pre it being called America, pre 1492) are all places that are extremely wealthy and rich in resources. The people originally from these places had no need to “search for resources” because they had it all. When you are wealthy and have all the natural resources anyone could ever need or want, for food, clothing, medicine, jewelry etc (ie. the many crops, animals, minerals such as gold, etc) you don’t need to take from other people. So in some sense, maybe this was okay…

Oh yeah, except for the fact that these were people on a different planet, lol, so do the “natives” on all planets look the same? in terms of facial features and speech, with the same accents/cadences? According to James Cameron, they do. Why could not the aliens/natives include people of all races, James? Then to analyze the humans… for the humans, who were obviously Americans, modern Americans at that (I don’t know what year it was supposed to be, but let’s just say the year 2500), for it to be the year 2,500 and there not be a diverse cast of scientist and army people was quite perplexing.

But that isn’t even the cake-topper, for me, the cake topper was the fact that the “savior” of the native people was of course one of the humans. AND he gets the girl, who was technically supposed to be “betrothed” to one of the main native men. Now don’t get me wrong Sam Worthington is hot, but could they not have gotten a mixed person to play his role just so that we can stop with the overwhelming cliches’? Is Zoe S. the Pocahontas, and is Sam W. the John Smith? This movie is full I mean FULL of cliches…. and that’s why this movie is extremely sub-par. Why would a 2009 movie (almost 2010 movie), directed/produced/etc by this major person, James Cameron, be so cliche?! Now I am finally able to get what that South Park episode, Dancing with the Smurfs, was doing; I understand why they were making fun of Avatar so much. If you haven’t seen that episode watch it here. (They basically compare Avatar to Dancing with the Wolves and other cliche’ movies, while integrating the clouded douche-like mindsets of people like Glenn Beck into the plot through Cartman.)

The movie offered excellent graphics especially in 3D, it looked great at the imax theater, but I left feeling bad for the overwhelming ignorance of the people who cast the movie. But idk, maybe I’m missing something.

Now, lets move on…

Avatar: The Last Airbender is my ISH (that’s a watered down way to say “shit” btw, lol). Yeah, I may technically be a young adult now, but still Avatar: The Last Airbender, is MY show! lol. It’s probably the best thing on Nickelodeon and the best non-comedy cartoon out these days; I seriously love that show. So when I saw the preview for it earlier this year I was extremely happy.

Now you may ask, why am I bringing up Avatar: The Last Airbender? Well because on my google search to find out if other people shared my opinion on the “backwards diversity” of the blue Avatar, I discovered some mind-boggling information about the real Avatar movie, MY Avatar. What did I discover? I discovered the cast. The cast of a movie so OBVIOUSLY set in Asia. All the traditions, the actions, the everything, EVERYTHING on Avatar: The Last Airbender is Asian. From their wisdom, skills in martial arts, to the tea houses, to well, let’s see, hmmm, oh yeah THE SETTING!?! Lol, yes the setting for pete’s sake, is in Asia. But somehow, someway M. Knight Shyamalan and his casting crew, were not able to find one, not ONE, asian person to play one of the main characters in an Asian movie, lmao. I’m sorry, but that’s total BS. And not only are none of the actors initially chosen to star in the movie Asian, but the main character Aang is being played by an undiscovered non-asian kid from Texas.

Many of the actors in this movie are virtual unknowns in one sense or another, so why could not they have used their willingness to cast unknowns as an opportunity to increase the number of asian-american actors? They could have atleast used more racially-ambiguous actors (basically mixed people or perhaps pacific-islanders) to star in the roles. The only main character they got right was sort of unintentional. Prince Zuko, a character on Avatar, was supposed be played by Jesse McCartney, but the movie conflicted with his tour dates so he had to pull out. They replaced him with british actor Dev Patel (the main guy from Slumdog Millionaire), this of course was a huge relief. There are other indian people playing minor roles in the movie, but the overall lack of asian or atleast racially-ambiguous actors is a slap in the face to any competent person.

Dev Patel is the only one that favors his character. They just gave everyone else the hairstyle of the character they are playing which makes them look slightly similar, but still far from the tv show character. Simply put, the casting for Avatar: The Last Airbender was horrible.

I often find that people who feel they belong to the “majority” group in a country are often oblivious to these things. They don’t think twice about diversity, and I guess one could rhetorically ask, “why would they need to?” Well how about because it’s 2009, we’re more conscious as a human race, and we can do better because we know better. But James Cameron and his casting directors only cast european-americans in the human roles and only cast african-americans, hispanics, and native-americans in the alien roles. M. Knight Shyamalan and and his casting directors cast no asians in a culturally Asian movie, giving us direct flashbacks to movies like Cleopatra (I love Liz Taylor as much as the next person, but Egyptian people during the times of Cleopatra were brown). It’s okay for a director to change the intended ethnicity of a character, it really is, but it should not be done at the expense of an entire culture. And it makes more sense to do it for a race of people that are under-represented in Hollywood, so that includes people of color (african-americans), asian-americans, native americans, etc.
Were these directors and hollywood casting agents being racist when they picked the actors for these two movies? who knows. I only put the word “racism” in the title post for emphasis and effect, but it does make you wonder what the logic and intent of these directors were. Were they just oblivious? Unaware? Or was it intentional? Did they feel the need to perpetuate stereotypes or appeal to the “majority” of Americans? I for one am positive that people would have watched Avatar: The Last Airbender if the characters were all asian, if not more people. They certainly lost my ticket, support, and enthusiasm, and from what I have read from others around the internet they’ve lost alot of support and have lowered the moral of avid Avatar fans. I didn’t pay to go see Cameron’s Avatar, a friend gave me a free ticket, but for anyone struggling with whether or not to go see it… don’t. It looks great in 3d, but the movie honestly is not THAT good and extremely cliche’ (save your money).
Now, I know this is sorta off-topic, but entertainment topics (and politics) are brought up here and there, and when I see bullsh*t I have to speak up. This may also be irrelevant to many of you, and that’s cool, just ignore this post, and come back tomorrow, lol. But for those of you who read this post and know anything about either movie feel free to share your opinions, your observations, or your thoughts on either Avatar movie. Note: I know for many of you just seeing the word “racism” brings out a defensive attitude, causing you to not be as objective. You may want to just say, “no diversity, lmao” and then you’ll continue with a 2-4 paragraph rant on how you’re sick and tired of these conspiracy theories about Hollywood not being diverse, but just take a deep breath and try to see these points from various perspectives. No one’s mad here, a little sarcastic? sure why not, lol, but I’m not calling this racism, just simply posing the question… Again, let me repeat for those easily offended– I used the word racism b/c it just brings more attention to the topic. (And thanks to the head editor for letting me post this, I know it isn’t the usual articles we bring and its not the usually type of article I write as a contributing editor, but it had to be done) Mike.

UPDATE: Wow, I didn’t know how many people were boycotting Avatar: The Last Airbender, pretty cool in my opinion. There’s a site called Race Bending that is organizing the boycott and trying to shed light on the lack of color in Hollywood. They not only discuss The Last Airbender, but the constant discrimination at places such as Paramount studios (displayed in movies such as Transformers), among many other interesting topics. Depending on how open your mind is and how culturally diverse you are on a personal level, you may or may not be able to understand the website, but it’s worth checking out.

Trend Report: 12/18/2009

 Timberland Premium 6-inch Boots

This is your official public service announcement of the latest trends. If you’re a regular here at The Urban Gentleman, then you may already know most of these.

As of Friday December 18, 2009:

1. It seems as if summer rolls, can now be called winter cuffs. Cold weather has not deterred those ecstatically dedicated to rolling up their pants. As predicted matching socks warms those cold ankles, the traditional gents stick to their navys, browns, and argyle, while those less than so are opting for patterns and bright happy colors.
2. Denim jackets have made their comeback, but thanks to gents like David Beckham many are choosing to skip the jackets and are opting for denim shirts instead.
3. The stylishly advanced have been wearing plaid shirts for well over a year, and quite frankly, are ready to move on. But the stylishly regular are not ready to let go, but I for one understand– it does look good on them. People need patterns during these not as happy, recession times, so you can expect to see plaid or variations of the plaid for a bit longer.
4. Though with northerners Timbs (aka Timberlands) never went out of vogue, the rest of the world looked at other options in bootwear over these past few years. Well, Timbs (the classic 6-in) are back– for everyone this winter… and with the way certain trends are moving we may be able to expect them to be worn (someway somehow) throughout the spring along with high-top boat shoes.
more trends to come..
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