Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Viacom Showing How Power + Prejudice = Racism

Viacom has sent Zazzle a cease and desist and it has pulled the Racebending.Com merchandise from its offerings.

More information and image files of the correspondence here @glockgal on livejournal. But apparently it's a violation of copyright to use even the word Aang.

Below is the c/p of my letter sent to Viacom via this form. Because who knows what way they'll find of ignoring/returning/disappearing this mail. Actually I can't find any mechanism to find send. Let's hope this is some odd cluenessness and momentary techno-ignorance on my part. I will update if I get it sent. UPDATE: It appears to have been my browser being resoundingly weird.


Dear Viacom,

"Aang Can Save The World And Still Be Asian"

So is this attempt to stop that message plain bullying, or a need for more bad press?

If you didn't want fans protesting, then perhaps you and your subsidiary and employees shouldn't have been so blatantly racist in your casting and appropriating of an Majority Asian/Minority World:

Inuit, Chinese, Tibetan, South Asian/East Indian, Korean, Mayan and more.

Are you going to send cease and desist letters to fans holding up plaque cards and banners because they use the name Aang?

You can close down the Zazzle shop, but you can't shut us up. You've messed up. Big time. And you just keep showing how power + prejudice contributes to institutional racism.

Willow / Organizer
People of Color in Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Carnival


Hi, my name is Willow. I'm an African Caribbean 30mumble woman, who loves Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko's Avatar: The Last Aribender, an Asian Hero Fantasy Story.


It is my fault that I haven't kept up on things. A couple of days ago I got a letter from one of those involved in Racebending.com, about a response letter than MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) had sent to Paramount Pictures. It is a reply to Paramount Pictures' excused. I got this email 10 days ago. Now parts of the protest are being attacked.

If anyone wants to say that Viacom and thus Paramount Pictures have every right to protect their copyright of images. I want to stress again that the design they object to are the words "Aang Is ASIAN". Maybe their many lawyers were on cold medicine and that's why certain items have been pulled and others have not. Maybe it's Zazzle. Or maybe those other items seem positive promotion.

MANAA's Main Points:

· The outdated and discriminatory practice of casting white actors to depict Asian characters.

· Casting calls indicating a preference for white actors for leads; people of color for extras.

· Culturally ignorant language used by members of the production (e.g. DeeDee Rickets: “If you’re a Korean, wear a kimono” to the casting call).

· The implications of featuring a villainous nation with dark-skinned, partly South Asian actors and a heroic nation led by white heroes who liberate the “Asian and African” nation.

· Cultural appropriation of Pacific Rim cultures and the franchise's core Asian concepts, despite a glass ceiling blocking off Asian American actors from playing lead protagonists.

Listing the ethnic composition of five cast members does not directly address these outstanding issues and only serves to obscure the fact that you are making rationalizations to white-wash this project hoping to bring in more viewers. The conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that in order for fantasy/science fiction/superhero movies to become successful, they must first pass muster with fans of the original source material. You are clearly not passing that bar."

Note: If Ms. Starling would like me to take down the quote, I will.

Go here for the complete timeline of Viacom/Paramount Pictures Racist Fail.


  1. A disgusting move by Viacom to cover up a previous disgusting move. As hard as they try, they can’t hide the racism in the casting of this movie.