Saturday, 23 April 2011

George Takei Petitions Against Hollywood's Alleged 'Whitewashing' of 'AKIRA'

Legendary Star Trek actor and social activist George Takei has spoken out against Warner Bros. Pictures' alleged plans to cast a live-action version of the classic Japanese animated film, AKIRA, with Caucasian leads rather than Asian actors. In response to the publication of a purported "short list" of actors including Justin Timberlake and Robert Pattinson, among others, Takei endorsed a Facebook petition called "Don't Whitewash AKIRA" that people can sign to make the powers that be aware of their wish for the film to be cast with Asians.

Created by Katsuhiro Otomo in the form of a manga serial and feature-length animated film, both of which are considered landmark works of art and superlative examples of their respective mediums, AKIRA is an indelibly Japanese story of super-science, politics and youth in revolt set against a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo. Its main characters are Kaneda and Testuo, two motorcycle gang members and the best of friends -- until the latter is cursed with uncontrollable powers.

Otomo explores apocalyptic themes in the series a way that only a Japanese creator could, telling the story of a conflicted, corrupt and desperate city borne out of a catastrophic event that recalls the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Everything about the story is informed by the Japanese people's struggle to redefine their nation in the post-war era, including the shocking nihilism of its young protagonists.

Last month, Deadline published what its sources characterized as a short list of lead actors for the two principal roles in AKIRA: Robert Pattinson (Twilight), Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Amazing Spider-Man) and James McAvoy (Wanted, X-Men: First Class) for Testuo; and Garrett Hedlund (TRON: Legacy), Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Inglourious Basterds), Chris Pine (Star Trek), Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line) and Justin Timberlake (everything that is ghastly and awful). None of these performers are Asian.

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