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A memo from MANAA to Hollywood:
For decades, American entertainment media have defined the Asian image to all the world. And usually, that image has been shaped by people with little understanding of Asian people themselves--and with little foresight into how such images would impact the Asian American community. Despite the good intentions of individual producers and filmmakers, limited and unbalanced portrayals of Asians have traditionally been the norm in the entertainment industry.
April 9, 2009
Dear Producers of The Last Airbender;
Thank you for your letter. Because it raises important questions regarding your perceptions of diversity, we are again requesting a meeting to discuss the casting and depiction of cultures in the movie (and your future projects) so this film can truly be the success we all want. We are interested, for instance, in how your ideal of including people from “all corners of the globe” correlates with your casting policies. Specifically seeking out white actors and casting four white leads for what M. Night Shymalan admitted was an “Asian fantasy world” does not celebrate ethnic diversity. Re-casting the sole villainous lead with an actor of color is a concession that results in three heroic nations going to war against an evil nation of color.
February 11, 2009
Dear Mr. Mercer:
I left two messages with you—one with your assistant Ricky on Monday and another with Lauren yesterday. I’m writing on behalf of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), which is dedicated to monitoring the media and advocating for balanced, sensitive, and positive depiction and coverage of Asian Americans. Since 1992, we have consulted with movie studios and met regularly with the top four television networks about ensuring diversity.
Looking for something to pop into your VCR? Interested in movies about Asian Americans? How about Western-language films that portray the meeting of Asia and the West in terms besides the same tired, old stereotypes? Or maybe even a vintage Hollywood film featuring a pioneering Asian American actor?
March 25, 2009
Dear Mr. Aoki,
Thank you for your letter and interest in our film.
As devoted fans of the original series, our goal is to create a film that will not only live up to the expectations of the television series’ fan base, but also expand it to a world-wide audience in ways that only a full-length motion picture can offer.
From the outset of the creative process, the Producers and the Director have envisioned embodying the Airbender universe with a large and ethnically diverse cast that represents many different heritages and cultures from all corners of the globe.
By Guy Aoki, August 2001
It was like preparing for an oral exam where you were gonna go in front of professors deciding whether or not you knew what you were talking about. Only this time, they'd challenge you if they disagreed and wouldn't feel obliged to let you finish your sentences. Oh, and it would be broadcast to millions of people across the country.
Fans of Clint Eastwood will probably head to Gran Torino because the previews promised a growling Dirty Harry wielding a firearm. As an avowed Eastwood skeptic, I came to the theater curious about the first mainstream American film to represent the Hmong. I think the film had plenty to offer both of us—as Walt Kowalski, Eastwood spends nearly half the movie with his lips pulled back in a snarl and emerges from the movie a wizened hero, and the actual Hmong who are cast in the roles of Kowalski’s new neighbors are an endearing, charming lot.
Welcome to the MANAA website and our new look! As president, I believe we are making the Media Action Network more effective, more accessible, and hopefully even more interesting and relevant. MANAA has been monitoring the media and advocating for balanced, sensitive and positive portrayals of Asian Americans for over 16 years. The potential for engaging with these issues in new forms of media is an exciting challenge.
New content available on our website includes:
- Press Releases from 2007-2008.
- An exclusive interview with Shalini Kantayya, a MANAA scholarship winner and successful competitor from FOX’s “On the Lot”
- New pictures from events that MANAA has sponsored or attended.
If you’d like to write something for MANAA or suggest a great link to add to the site, please let us know. My hope is to provide more info about what the organization is doing, and also provide more resources to those of you who support the cause. Thank you for your support!
The Academy Awards aren't generally a big night for Asian Americans -- after all, there haven't been many noteworthy Asian American wins, and little recognition given overall within the community. This year, with the dominance of Slumdog Millionaire, it was exciting to see Asian faces light up the screen. Despite the fact that the movie can hardly be considered "Asian American," given its British crew and Indian locale, we're crossing our fingers that its impact will nevertheless be felt throughout the Asian American entertainment world.
Also Fox 11’s complete video coverage of the protest, visit myFoxLA- Last Airbender Draws Race Protests
View more videos at: http://www.nbclosangeles.com.
By David Yeh
After a quest for White Castle burgers and a trip to Guantanamo Bay, the comedy duo of Harold Lee (John Cho) and Kumar Patel (Kal Penn) return for a third go around to celebrate (or ruin) the holiest of holidays: Christmas. This isn’t as strong of a film as the first ‘Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle’ nor is it as smart, but it certainly is entertaining through its chaos as the events encountered become even more offensive (in a good way) than the one before.
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