ATTN: the person who submitted the post about being white and writing a series of fantasy novels based on “the cultures and mythologies of the Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan and Tongan people.”
I’m not posting the full submission because it was quite lengthy and the issues are very complex. I tried to look for an Ask on your personal tumblr page but coudln’t find it, or else I would have sent this privately.
If we left the writing-about-other-cultures solely to members of those cultures, we would not have seen Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Yes, and I think one of the strengths of Avatar: The Last Airbender was that the creators really took the time to get it right.
Without the effort to seek out feedback from different cultural consultants (eg. a kung fu expert who took the martial arts very seriously, a linguist and calligrapher to painstakingly make sure every word was written correctly, a cultural consultant on Asian American representation and stereotypes), Avatar: The Last Airbender could have been a very different product.
I think the cultural consultant on Asian American representation (who worked on Seasons One and Two of A:TLA) did a good job of ensuring there were no dog eating jokes, advocating for more voice actors of color in the series, and making it a policy that no voice actors used a fakey “Asian” accent.
And—this may not be a popular opinion—I actually think The Legend of Korra could have strongly benefited from additional cultural consultation, particularly from someone with a critical feminist theory perspective. Support from someone coming from that framework probably could have provided the production with some constructive feedback on the depiction of privilege and oppression in Republic City and the way the Equalists were depicted, additional insight on colonialism and it’s impact on indigenous people of color (eg. the Water Tribe after Fire Nation imperialism and the fact that the villains this season were both Water Tribe and also two of only three significant brown characters in the entire season), the overall characterization of Mako in the Korra/Mako/Asami love triangle, and some of the weaknesses in Korra’s character development arc, etc.