His defense for casting white people (Caucasians) instead of Asians for roles in this movie caused me to cross him off my list of directors I've liked in the past. See the website Racebending.com for more on race controversy, but here's a quote from a Time Magazine review that had me chuckling:
You can relax, bloggers. The dearth of racially appropriate casting in the U.S. simply means that fewer Asians were humiliated by appearing in what is surely the worst botch of a fantasy epic since Ralph Bakshi's animated desecration of The Lord of the Rings back in 1978. The actors who didn't get to be in The Last Airbender are like the passengers who arrived too late to catch the final flight of the Hindenburg.Hilarious. Also see Lindy West asking, "Did he run the script through Google translate and back again?"
In addition, people have taken to the streets to protest this film in person. My household is doing mini jigs because when my offspring first heard of movie, they thought it was exactly the kind of film they wanted to see, but after learning how the director whitewashed the main characters, they opted not to see it. With fans and critics alike yelling "stinker," my son and daughter are sleeping well, feeling they haven't missed a thing.