George Takei Petitions Against Upcoming ‘Akira’ Adaptation

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[dropcap size=small]G[/dropcap]eorge Takei is not thrilled about the upcoming American feature film adaptation of the popular Japanese Manga Akira.

Why?

To answer that, one just needs to look to the prospective casting choices (As reported by Deadline). Casting choices include Robert Pattinson (Twilight), Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) and James McAvoy (X-Men: Days of Future Past) for Testuo; with Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Chris Pine (Star Trek), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Justin Timberlake (Friends with Benefits) for Kaneda.

Takei finds the lack of Asian actors being considered for an adaptation of a Japanese work troublesome. More specifically, that all the casting choices are White. This has led the Star Trek star to speak out and petition against the film. In regards to the casting news, Takei told The Advocate:

[dropcap size=small][/dropcap]The manga and anime phenomenon is mostly white in this country. It originated in Japan, and, of course, it has a huge Asian fan following. But it’s the multi-ethnic Americans who are fans of Akira and manga. The idea of buying the rights to do that and in fact change it seems rather pointless. If they’re going to do that, why don’t they do something original, because what they do is offend Asians, number 1; number 2, they offend the fans.”

Takei then recalls a similar circumstance from 2010, and the abysmal results:

[dropcap size=small][/dropcap]The same thing happened with M. Night Shyamalan. He cast [The Last Airbender] with non-Asians and it’s an Asian story, and the film flopped. I should think that they would learn from that, but I guess big studios go by rote, and the tradition in Hollywood has always been to buy a project, change it completely and flop with it. I think it’s pointless, so I thought I would save Warner Bros. a bit of failure by warning them of what will most likely happen if they continue in that vein.”

THE LAST AIRBENDER
Why did you remind us, George? Why?

The Advocate went on to ask Takei what his thoughts were on the difference between the politics behind Black and Asian actors. He explains why he thinks there is a big gap between the two:

[dropcap size=small][/dropcap]African-Americans have made enormous advances. There are a whole host of bankable stars who are African-American. Can you name one bankable Asian-American star? No. There isn’t. You have Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson. A whole host of them. One can’t name a single Asian-American whose name you can take to the bank and get a project financed. We are making headways. I’m not a pessimist. We have made tremendous headways from the time I started in this business in 1957. Asian faces are part of the ensemble in many TV shows playing not roles that are specifically Asian, but playing doctors and detectives. Advances have been made, but we have still not caught up with the African-American achievements.”

Takei deduces that the reasoning behind the unwillingness to cast Asian actors is out of just plain ignorance. “I don’t think it’s a reluctance, they just don’t know better,” he concludes.

What are your thoughts on this hot-button topic? Do you agree with George Takei’s viewpoints? Do you disagree? Why? Let’s chat in the comments below!

 

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11 COMMENTS

    • I have to agree with you, Blazer. The U.S. has a bad track record of bastardazing otherwise incredible foreign titles for the sake of making them more appealing for American audiences. For example, take the lackluster film ‘Quarantine’ derived from the great film ‘[REC]’ out of Spain. Or more recently, the bad American remake of the awesome movie ‘Oldboy’ from South Korea. Instead of taking these unique and acclaimed movies and trying to make an easy buck off American audiences, more effort should be out towards making the originals more accessible to U.S. audiences.

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