Media Consumers for Entertainment Equality
Deadline.com reports that the studio and producers behind The Last Airbender (2010) have acquired the rights to Neal Stephenson’s cyberpunk novel, Snow Crash.
Paramount Pictures is launching it’s second attempt to make the film, tapping Joe Cornish to direct. Cornish is best known for his 2011 breakout hit, Attack the Block, which starred several young “unknown” actors of color in lead roles.
The Kennedy/Marshall Company will produce. The Kennedy/Marshall company is the production company headed by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall, two of the producers of The Last Airbender (2010).
In 2008, fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender wrote hundreds of letters to Kennedy and Marshall asking them not to cast white actors to play characters of color in their adaptation of The Last Airbender. These letters were returned to sender or otherwise ignored. Even after Asian American advocacy organizations stepped in, producer Frank Marshall did not acknowledge that the casting of The Last Airbender had a discriminatory impact on actors of color.
Marshall did, however, acknkowledge that casting breakdowns asking for “Caucasian or any other ethnicity” to play the characters of Airbender were “poorly worded and offensive.” He told UGO.com that:
“Ultimately, we all take responsibility for not doing a more thorough job monitoring these frequently used third-party [casting] agents and Paramount has since been in regular dialogue with Asian American advocacy groups including the Japanese American Citizens League and the Media Action Network for Asian Americans to ensure that such a mistake does not happen in the future.” – Frank Marshall, 2010
How will this all play out in the adaptation of Snow Crash, a 1992 novel about a futuristic Los Angeles featuring several characters of color? The main character is hacker and pizza delivery guy Hiro Protagonist, who is of mixed Asian and African American descent. Other characters include a street smart skateboarder named Yours Truly (Y.T.), Hiro’s ex-girlfriend Juanita Marquez, and the antagonist Raven, who is of Aleut descent. Themes of racism and sexism intersect the text and the characters’ experiences.
A faithful casting of Snow Crash–though unorthodox for Hollywood–would mean that women and people of color would feature in the film’s central roles. [Even if Paramount wants actors who are “already established,” there is at least one famous young performer of Asian and African American descent, Shaffer Smith (aka Ne-Yo), several famous young Latina actresses, and several famous young Native American actors (Twilight series, anyone?]
Since Snow Crash producer Frank Marshall has stated that Paramount is working to ensure that post-Airbender casting calls will be accurate, and Joe Cornish’s biggest film to date features a multicultural cast, we’re rooting for actors of color in Snow Crash‘s lead roles. Snow Crash would be the first tentpole science fiction film to star a person of Asian and African American descent in the lead role.
Thank you, hoyvinglavin64, for tipping us off about the production of Snow Crash on the Racebending livejournal group!