M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender opened in the UK recently, and according to reports, audiences are laughing at many of the film’s climactic scenes. Of course, that wouldn’t be news. The news is that for the first time, it seems something besides Shyamalan’s terrible writing may be to blame. Writes the Guardian:
Each nation has a certain type of people, a favoured race different from the rest, people with the Jedi-like power to control or “bend” the elements. Firebenders. Earthbenders. Waterbenders. And airbenders. At the cinema showing I attended, the British crowd reacted derisively at key dialogue moments. One wise old lady says solemnly to a young man: “I could tell at once that you were a bender, and that you would realise your destiny.” One character tells another wonderingly: “There are some really powerful benders in the Northern Water Zone.” Another whispers tensely: “We want to minimise their bender sources.” A key figure is taken away by brutal soldiers, one of whom shouts cruelly: “It’s a bender.”
And so on, for almost two hours. Each time, the response from the auditorium was deafeningly immature, and brought many of us to a state of nervous collapse.
Strangely, I found it much too boring to be funny. The Economist explains what I was missing:
“Bender”, of course, is a crude British pejorative for “homosexual”. So why, indeed, didn’t they just check the script? Turns out they didn’t need to. One of its stars, Dev Patel, is a Brit who certainly knew what was going on. Patel, who plays a young prince, said of the term: “When I came onto the movie, I was like, ‘Really’? Benders?’”
Asked why he did not inform the director of the British slang connotation of the word, he told The Times: “It was too integral to the movie. We couldn’t call them fire or air manipulators. It would have been moving too far from the source material.”
I guess you can add to the growing list of reasons Manny shouldn’t be allowed to write his own movies the fact that he couldn’t think of a word that would keep his movie from being called “The Last Sky Queer” and his characters from constantly gay bashing each other. Then again, maybe he knowingly left it in there, realizing it was the only thing remotely interesting about it. In related news, British Tom Cruise just had a panic attack.