Thursday, 24 March 2011

Don't want whitey in 'Akira?' Read on...

Was forwarded this by a Facebook friend.

On March 21st, 2011, reported that eight actors have been solicited for the roles of Tetsuo and Kaneda in AKIRA. All of the actors solicited were white. If not in a film called Akira, for characters named Kaneda and Tetsuo, when will Asian Americans get to star in a Warner Bros film?


Please virtually "attend" this petition event to show your support! It will provide us with a headcount so we know how many people feel strongly about this issue.

We would like to present the numbers from this petition to the studio to show them that all media consumers--not just Akira fans and not just Asian Americans--support casting Asian Americans in the lead roles in AKIRA.


1. You support the casting of an Asian American actors in Akira.

2. You agree that Asian American actors should have the opportunity to play Asian characters in film adaptations like Akira especially since many movie productions choose to cast non-Asian actors instead. (As a result only 1.2% of lead movie roles go to Asian actors!)

We'd already heard Mila Kunis was up for Kay. The first two names mentioned for Kaneda and Tetsuo (going back a couple of years now, I think) were Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The actors named by Deadline: "for Tetsuo, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy have been given the new script. For the role of Kaneda, the script has been given to Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix. The two leads are expected to come from that group of actors."
So not only are they all too white, they're also way too old. With the possible exception of  R-Patz and Garfield, not one of them could pass for teenagers anymore. This can only mean significant changes have been made to the story.

I'm not one of those who thinks any adaptation must not stray from the source material, nor am I much of an anime fan; of the little I have seen, Akira is the only one to really stay with me, at least in part because I saw it at the cinema aged 10 or 11 (believe it or not, the BBFC originally passed it as a 12!) and was left vaguely traumatised by the experience. But I fail to see how any live action Hollywood version can do justice to that mind-boggling vision of an apocalyptic future, especially when it will almost certainly be toned down for a PG-13. As with any remake, there's the question of why do it in the first place, when the original hasn't aged badly at all. And then there's the small matter of just how tasteful it would seem given what's going on in Japan right now (a dilemma which I imagine will also be facing Garth Edwards' upcoming Godzilla reboot).

But if a live action Akira is going to be made, and it's going to retain its Japanese setting, then surely it makes sense to have an Asian cast.

Show your support here.

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