Lemon Water

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Speak category.

AtLA’s Friky Diky Cast: The Best Links Roundup (Under Work)

Since I seem to be getting pretty good at roundups, I decided to start making a few more selective ones. This one is dedicated to collecting the (IMHO) best ones protesting the situation, instead of the “EVERYTHING I CAN FIND” in my first roundup.  I’ll try to have it organized and in categories.

Glockgal (She is being so amazing regarding this issue that she deserves her own category)

Why it matters

Why Anime Characters “Don’t Look Asian”

Evidence that AtLA is based on Asian and Inuit Cultures


Movements or Projects

Outside of the Fandom, but still valid and with insight


AtLA’s Friky Diky Cast Media Coverage Roundup! (Under Work)

Since I seem to be getting pretty good at roundups, I decided to start making a few more selective ones. This one is dedicated to collecting all the links that show Media coverage of our issue, and I will try to put it in chronological order. If you find one link missing, please tell me so I can update this!

Re: ATLA’s Friky Diky Cast; Rathbone Doesn’t Get It

Which honestly, doesn’t surprise me.

I leave the internet for about 18 days and miss out on the lovely (dripping sarcasm PLEASE be noted here, I don’t ever want to be quoted on saying this guy is lovely) Jackson Rathbone’s comment regarding the whole casting fracas which involves him. Is it too much to hope that one of the actors are genuinely concerned, although obviously conflicted because they really want the part too and get paid? Maybe that would be better?

Due in theaters in summer 2010, “Airbender” has already begun to face a bit of controversy over the casting of white actors like Rathbone, Ringer and McCartney to play Asian characters — a concern the actor was quick to dismiss. “I think it’s one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan,” he said of the transformation he’ll go through to look more like Sokka. “It’s one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit.”

No. Rathbone, it is NOT the same if you are acting in it and make yourself look darker and change your hairstyle. See, the thing is, ALL the actors are WHITE. The WHOLE Avatar Universe is ASIAN, INUIT, or MESOAMERICAN (Check: the Sun Warriors! Predominantly Asian, though). This is happening in concordance with a pattern in movies, where CULTURAL APPROPIATION is pretty much the default. It is a disgusting continuation of viewing the default heroes as white, up to the point that the heroes in a fictional universe where NO ONE IS WHITE are going to be recast as white.

Do you know what the fans want? They want Avatar Universe faithfully followed. Do you know why this show is so big? Great storytelling, plots, characters, development, among some things. But ALSO, for providing a hero that isn’t white. No wait, for providing many heroes that aren’t white. It is an issue, when in this world, in the media, there are very few roles for those who aren’t white, for PoCs to identify. I mean… just… look, this says it better than I can:

During our early Christmas dinner this weekend, the oldest of the nephews, who is 13, brought up the subject of the incredibly white child actors that had been picked for the film version. The three of them were confused and disappointed but unable to articulate exactly why. Then the youngest, all of 7 years old, asked me whether this meant that he couldn’t be Aang when he played Avatar with his friends from now on.

Tell me, Rathbone, if you read that? How do you feel? Are you happy you are participating in the exclusion of many kids, who actually had a hero like them, somebody not the fucking white default? In making them feel that somehow, that they aren’t good enough?

Rathbone, do yourself a favour, and actually read what is going on. Actually read the worries, the dissapointments, the dreams, the problems, of the fans who had something amazing… taken away from them.

You’ve pretty damn already lost me and a lot of us. I highly doubt you will get anybody back. I have already made note of avoiding movies with somebody as insensitive and as clueless as you. Before I heard your opinion, I was pretty happy to avoid making any comments directly about you (except where related to Twilight, because admittedly, I find Twilight ridiculous) and concentrate on those who had chosen you to replace a uniquely diverse world and peoples with the white hero. It is not the same. But since you have on this comment… well… you’re taking part in the systematic exclusion of anybody different.

The positive side, is that he was asked the question. And it appeared on MTV. And that MTV noted that the cast was chosen to play “Asian characters”.

So people, keep making your voices heard! I’ll go back to keeping the roundup updated on what you guys say!

Writing Gives You Power: AtLA’s Cast, And What You Can Do

In a continuation from my last two posts, I’m going create a more specific directory in the spirit of glockgal’s livejournal post about the same. This time, it’s not about the reactions or the issues at stake, but rather, focusing on what you can do to change the whitewashing of the cast.

First, you have to write. Yes. Write a letter (polite please) to as many people as you think can make a difference. To the Big People over there, to the Media People, to your felow-avatar-fan-that-isn’t-clued-in, or to that friend-who-you-think-would-write-too. Spread the word to the people who would support you in this venture, and prepare your pens, sharpen your quills, or stretch your fingers for some epic typing, because it’s time to work for that diverse cast that AtLA deserves.

Re: AtLA’s Friky Diky Cast

To the guy who commented as “Michael” in my last post

Your attack on me is laughable. First of all, you assumed that I hate white people, and partly because I am not white; I am white. I am so white that when I wear skirts my friends comment on my whiteness. My family is white, a great number of my friends and my social circle is white, and I do not hate them or myself for being white. I do not need to not be white to see racism, nor to fight it. Besides, the colour of one’s skin should not matter or affect the logic of their argument: I simply am more privileged and so less likely to see racism in my everyday life, because I benefit from it and am not affected by it. (You might want to study the dynamics of privilege, since you seem to be soaking in it). Second of all, attacking me instead of the issues and the logic I raise is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem.

(Additionally, I was only using Harry Potter as an example of possible ways of choosing a cast based on talent, in a BIG movie. It really has little relevance compared to the whole weight of the post, but that this is the only thing that sticks in your mind shows how little you understood what I wrote).

Third, yes, I am critiquing a movie and their choice for a cast, because it shows racist undertones and considerations. I have not seen the movie, or most of the actors. Please note that I specifically mentioned that I would refrain from commenting on the acting ability of those cast for Katara and Aang (and even for Sokka) because I don’t know enough from them, apart from their ethnicity (and not even that for Aang).

When you say I am “completely in the dark”, that I “don’t know what the movie is about, have no idea about the storylines, or scripts, or what has been added or subtracted”, I want to laugh. I have seen all the Avatar episodes, do know the storyline, and so have a pretty damn reasonable idea of what the movie will contain (finding Aang, freeing him, Zuko finds him, the chases, Aang has to master waterbending, the comet!!!, are the basic elements), and I am not in the dark. True, I don’t know what specific changes have been made to the script, but I do know the casting, and it is the casting I am critiquing – not the script.

And here I would argue that I do have a reason to hate the cast. And it is here when you completely miss the point of the post. Let me quote rawles, as s(he) probably phrases this better:

“Taking a show where the cultures and the world that the characters all hail from are clear, blatant, confirmed analogues and amalgams of a diverse variety of various Asian cultures, where the characters have Asian names, where their magical martial arts styles that are the expressions of their very souls are Asian martial arts, where every single written word is actually IN CHINESE and then casting white people to play the main characters is offensive.”

Let me point the clueless to this wonderful post by vagabond_sal, because again s(he) says the same thing, and a bit more, better than I can.

I have the right to express my disappointment and provide constructive critique in the hopes of making Paramount Pictures and Avatar the live action movie a more inclusive movie that doesn’t discriminate against race – because racism is wrong, and should be stopped in all of its forms – but rather, welcomes diversity and makes positive of it. I have the right to expect that people of colour are fairly represented in the media, although it is currently not. And since it isn’t, I sure as hell am going to demand for it.

BTW: Batman and Heath Ledger is not an appropriate comparison, because it was a white character being played by a white actor. Please, avoid false comparisons – another logical fallacy. Instead of actually analyzing the logic and the arguments, you are trolling my blog and my person. Who was it that was talking about invulnerable internet tower and hurling insults?

“In the end, one loses an open mind, when they open their mouth.”

PS: Why did people get upset over Heath Ledger as the Joker again? I don’t remember that angst. And please, let it somebody other than Michael that informs me about this.

This Matters: Avatar the Last Airbender’s Friky Diky Cast (Link Roundup Constantly Being Updated)

You might be aware, if you follow this blog, that I am an EPIC fan of the Nickelodeon Show Avatar the Last Airbender.

So you might understand why I feel rabid at the cast choice for the live action movie.

Let’s Talk About Racism and Classism – Peru’s Middle And High Class View of “Disposable Human Beings”

Before I start, I’d like to add that generally, I really like living in Peru.

But this is one of the reasons I would really really like to move out. Peru can be a very oppressive, mean place at times, especially in comparison to a lot of places I have been in. There is a reason why I agree with the saying “Perro de Hortelana” with a lot of Limean psychology, which basically says that “neither will eat or let others eat”. The mind drive is very much “free for all”, “every one for his or herself”, and selfish, selfish, selfish. In general.

Before I turn this into a complaint of Limean society, which is not my purpose, because I have found great people here, both Internationals and Peruvians, and I don’t want to insult my Peruvian friends (but… you’re blind to this because it is what you have lived with all your lives…), I’ll give a bit of the general Latin American history of colonialism and oppression, racism, and the formation of the oligarchies.

As you all know, in the wonderfully gory history of colonialism, Spanish colonialists came down to Latin America began conquering both the advanced and not advanced people here. Yes, there were advanced people in Latin America, please don’t fall to the myth of “primitive savages”, and keep in mind that there has been in fact new discoveries that actually point out that the Americas had the most advanced civilizations, thanks to a few biological factors due to population density, which I will not explain. Before you argue that they can’t have been advanced, since they lost and were destroyed, let me say three magical words:

Guns, Germs, and Steel. Read that book and it will basically fully explain it to you.

Basically, about 90% of the indigenous population was wiped out due to the germs that were imported by the colonists. Part of the reason why they had never developed as much variety in strains of resistance to diseases like the Europeans, is due to the lack of domestic animals. By being closer quarters with domestic animals, Europeans were more exposed to disease, and only those who grew resistant survived. Since this did not happen in Latin America, resistance was not developed.

So basically, 90% of the people died due to disease.

Guns and steel are easy to see – for reasons I will not go through, because already I am going slightly off topic, the Europeans developed the technology and better weapons that overwhelmed the weakened indigenous Latin Americans.

So colonialism occured.

With it, grew the power base of powerful white families, that kept to maintaining their blood “pure” by marrying only white people. As the manner of power changed with governments in time, so did the manner the white descendent’s maintained power, later forming the rich oligarchies whose descendants can be seen in the white children of these families, to which I belong. These families kept the same racist and classist views and old prejudices, working only for their benefit and power. Whenever mestizos (mixing of the race) occurred, which is a lot, as you can see by the features of the people all around, the whiter ones where typically favored. This is a pretty standard pattern around Latin America, and is still in force.

You now have the historic background. Let me tell you the modern situation.

While rich people here still maintain the general power, I am happy to report that more social inclusion is occurring… kind of. There is a strange double standard in place. White people can be prestigious based on actual wealth and status, or previous familial prestige or wealth. Basically, you kind of have a decadent charm to you if you are not rich, but rather middle class, but your family was one of the Big Families. They keep the status and respect, are part still, of the social group. However, I have heard a saying that “cholo para siempre”, basically, “one always stays cholo”. (Cholo is often used as a derogatory term for mestizos or those of darker skin. Some people deny this, and say it really only means to a people of a specific area, but whether that is the actual dictionary definition, the social and popularly used term, which is what I am talking about society, is definitely a derogatory term, racist laden and prejudice driven and – whoops, long sentence.) Basically, the dark skinned, no matter how much wealth they gain, will always be excluded, based on the racial and class based prejudice that there is against them.

But the really bad point that brought me to write this first, to talk about disposable human beings, which is not something that exist, but that some people (or maybe many, I’m not going to pretend to know) here believe. I’m going to talk about an anecdote.

Now, my mother has a childhood friend that lived here until last year. She lived in an apartment complex, middle class, that was right on Javier Prado, a very very busy avenue. Across the street and up two blocks, lies a Wong, which is basically the biggest supermarket chain in Peru. Now, there isn’t a bypass on this avenue, or at least, at all nearby. And crossing the avenue is pretty damn risky and scary- I know because when I first started going to my school, we were staying at this friend’s house, and I’d walk to my school.

That avenue is friggin deadly.

Now, a lot of the middle class people have maids. Middle class families are also usually and in their great majority, Caucasian. Maids are in the great majority (Actually, I would be surprised to find a single white maid, though it is statistically necessary) darker skinned, mestizas. Maids are easy to come by, and pretty cheap – there are many women desperate for jobs, flocking this city, which is huge, and probably accounts for over half the population of the country – and basically every middle class family has one. Now, these maids often have to go shopping for the family they work for, crossing the deadly avenue back and forth.

So, my mom’s friend thinks about this, and decides she ought to appeal to get a bypass built. She does some research, learns she needs to get some signatures or a petition signed by other people who think this is a good idea, and puts up the paper in the notice area of the building complex/building condominium/call it what you will. She keeps this up for about a month, and I think she barely got two signatures in total. Finally, she got very politely told by the gate keeper (also a mestizo) to please take it down. The friend expressed confusion at the few signatures, when a neighboring lady passing by said “But it’s no problem, we can drive across to buy anything we want!”. The friend explained that it was mostly for the maids that she was worrying about. “Oh, don’t worry, one dies, and a million come in her place.”

This was one of the most chilling anecdotes I’ve heard, and one of the first I heard when arriving to Peru.

This lady considers these maids as disposable human beings for her convenience. Why should she bother to protect their life and interests? To her, I must assume, they are less then human. And it is based on this historical prejudice and context of racism and classism, (both are related since the darker skinned races are of the lower and poorer classes, and suffer both), that they are viewed as inhuman, as commodities.

No human is disposable. No human is a commodity. Not for convenience.

That such a mindset, subconscious or conscious, is even possible today, disgusts me.

But hey, I’m just that naive globe trotter. This is condoned here, what can we change? This society accepts it, I mean, why bust your ass or conscience over something you are not guilty of?*

That still does not mean that it isn’t wrong. And because it is unethically wrong, it has to change.

If anybody wants to discuss why the mindset they have is justified, I hope you like teeth.

*Actually, I have a guilty feeling due to heritage. I am a white descendant of the oligarchy. My father’s paternal family owned mines. My father’s maternal family is from Belgium. My mother’s family on both sides, is definitely part of the old families of white supremacy that existed here (NOT going into details). I am one of the highly privileged people in Latin America: I was born into a family that had far better opportunities, gave me these opportunities, a safe life, free of most prejudice, especially that of racism and classism. Because my father’s job made me see the problems, people go through, I felt obliged to help other people – because this isn’t fair. It isn’t my fault, but I also have a privilige that is constantly undermining these people. I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution.

I Want To Be Able To Speak Out Like That

The Wonderful Kali brings to light (or at least to my sight) two of the fucking most incredible pieces of oral text I have heard that is modern, applies, and that makes we want to go out and make a fucking difference.

Go listen to them. I know I’m in a high from listening to those two videos. I thought my highs only came from awesome music. I just discovered something else that makes my nerves tingle and make me smile inanely.

If I get a chance to make a speech again in English class, I want to see if I can imbue half the passion that these put in it. To hell with peer pressure to not stand out in class- I’ve been fighting it a very long time. This is amazing.

Go watch.