Tuesday, August 10, 2010

NERD ALERT: Casting Call for Runaways Film Fails to Mention Nico Minoru's Ethnicity

White-washing of Asian roles in Hollywood is a long and sad tradition. From the horrid James Bond film You Only Live Twice, where Bond masqueraded as a Japanese man by taping his eyes, to the more recent and highly controversial The Last Airbender, a film based on a critically-acclaimed and smash hit Nickalodeon show Avatar: The Last Airbender, where the entire non-white cast of characters were dunked in a vat of bleach and came out looking like Ken and Barbie dolls... except for Dev Patel, who we love.

Racebending.com is a fan-based site that came about in response to The Last Airbender racial-casting-gate and has been partnering with groups like Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) to protest the white-washing of Asian American roles and stories in Hollywood. The latest potential offender is the upcoming Runaways film, based off of the absurdly  awesome and much adored Marvel comic of the same name (not to be confused with that other Runaways film, which features Kristen Stewart's uncanny ability to be disinterested at everything).

In the casting call for the new film, the brief character bios for all the original Runaway crew are present. Nico is described as "Uniquely beautiful, nurturing but guarded Female, must play 16-18 Must be at least 16 by January 2011". No mention of the fact that Nico Minoru is explicitly identified and drawn as Japanese American in the comics. It should be noted that the other person of color on the original squad, Alex Wilder, who is African American in the books is so identified in his character bio:
Boy 1: Very smart, natural leader, in need of a father figure
Male, African American, must play 16-18
Must be at least 16 by January 2011
What gives Marvel? Do the right thing! Nico can still save the world/be a tortured soul and be Asian!

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