Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to our frequently asked questions page! We get a lot of questions about what we do, so we tried to make this page comprehensive. Please read through this page before contacting us directly for specific questions or concerns.
Index of Frequently Asked Questions
What is Racebending.com?
Racebending.com is an international grassroots organization of media consumers that advocates for underrepresented groups in entertainment media. Since our formation in 2009, we have been dedicated to furthering equal opportunities in Hollywood and beyond.
To learn more, visit our About Us page.
How do I contact Racebending.com?
If you want to get in touch with us, please visit our contact page–but first, please read through our Frequently Asked Questions to see if your question has already been answered. If your question has already been answered in our FAQ section, we will end up redirecting you there.
If you are a member of the press: In addition to contacting us, please feel free to browse our Press Page, which contains press releases, a timeline, statistics, and other information about our website. Here is an archive of previous media coverage.
What does the term ‘racebending’ refer to and what does it mean?
The practice we’ve dubbed “racebending” on this site usually refers to situations where A) A movie studio/publisher, etc. has changed the ethnicity of a character B) with a resultant discriminatory impact on an underrepresented cultural community and actors from that community (reinforcement of glass ceilings, loss of opportunity, etc.)
The word “racebending” is a portmanteau coined by one of our co-founders. It’s a play on words that refers to the “airbending” in the first film we protested, The Last Airbender.
For more information, see: What is “racebending”?
What does Racebending.com do about movies/books/etc. that “racebend”?
Racebending.com has expanded to monitor other situations where ‘racebending’ has occurred. We inform our members about the situation and occasionally take direct action. For example, we launched an email campaign when David Henrie was cast to play a Chinese American lead character in The Weapon.
We have a very small staff and limited resources. Also, we might not know about ______. If you would like to volunteer to help, please contact us!
Heads up! How do I let you know if I hear about a discriminatory movie project?
If you feel there is an issue in an upcoming movie that we should address, please contact us with more information.
If I support a film Racebending.com is critiquing, does that make me a racist?
We are not in a position to judge whether any individual fan is a racist. Going to see a movie like The Last Airbender is a personal choice.
That being said, when you support a movie that actively excludes actors of color–such as films that erase pre-existing, heroic characters of color–you are also indirectly supporting discrimination. However unintentionally, your actions may have racist, sexist, or ableist consequences. Our goal is to raise awareness and inform fans that they can speak out and act out against certain movies if they do not wish to financially reward Hollywood productions for making decisions that have resulted in discrimination.
We hope that one day, fans and media consumers will not have to choose between supporting a franchise and taking a stand against discrimination.
How did Racebending.com get its start?
Racebending.com got its start through our sister site, Aang Aint White, a livejournal started by some anonymous folks (some with professional ties to the franchise) immediately after the principal cast of The Last Airbender was announced in December 2008. When the protest began to pick up steam, it became clear that a blog wouldn’t be enough, so fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender expanded to a livejournal community and eventually to our campaign website, Racebending.com.
Are supporters of Racebending.com fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender or any of the other franchises you critique? Can you guys still be fans if you’re critical of the movie?
Although we have received plenty of outside support, many of our supporters are fans of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. As fans of the original television show, we still hold the highest level of respect for the animated series and its culturally nuanced depiction of an Asian fantasy world. We wanted to support The Last Airbender film, but we could not in good conscience support a production that reinforced glass ceilings by systematically excluding people and characters of color from heroic lead roles.
We are often big fans of the franchises we critique. Critiquing media content is an appropriate, important, and necessary part of media consumption!
Does Racebending.com support quotas or colorblind casting?
We feel that Hollywood should give more representation to groups that are currently underrepresented–which is not the same as either of those policies. Quotas and colorblind casting do not directly address historic and current systemic inequalities.
What is Colorism?
We reference the term “colorism” frequently on the website. Colorism is a form of discrimination in which people are accorded differing social and economic treatment based on skin color. Colorism occurs across the world and can occur within an ethnic group or between different ethnic groups. In most entertainment industries–including Hollywood–lighter skin tone is given preferential treatment and darker skin tone is considered less desirable. Oftentimes, heroes are cast with lighter skin and villains are cast with darker skin.
Why is Media Representation important?
“It is critical that children see all sorts of people playing both the good and the bad roles in media. Otherwise, they may take those absences as meaningful and it may affect how they understand social categories. And it is certainly important for kids to be able to identify with heroes that they feel represent who they are as people.” – Professor Michael Baran, cultural anthropologist
When audiences consume movies, television shows, books, and other forms of entertainment media, they are also consuming an interpretation of the real world constructed by content creators. The media can shape opinions and change or reinforce existing points of view. It reflects and influences cultural values and public opinion.
The media influences how Americans learn about race, ethnicity, and culture. We often use messages in the media to construct our own knowledge of people who are different from us. We also use messages in the media to shape how we feel about ourselves.
Historically and in the present day, the practice of “racebending” has significantly limited access to media representation for underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
Index of Frequently Asked Questions