Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Subliminal Avatar

Fjordman just sent us this brief note:

If somebody thought that my critical comments regarding the hidden messages in the movie Avatar or other Hollywood movies were caused by paranoia, read this from Courtland Milloy in The Washington Post:

‘Avatar’ is part of important discussion about race

If you thought James Cameron’s “Avatar” was just a 3-D fantasy flick about nice cat people vs. mechanized mad men, think again. There’s a fourth dimension, a shadowy back story about race that has the sci-fi blogosphere engaged in its own war of the worlds.

Annalee Newitz, writing last week on her science blog io9, criticized “Avatar” for depicting yet another white man as a hero in the liberation struggles of oppressed people of color.

As happens in movies such as “District 9,” “Dances With Wolves” and “The Last Samurai,” Newitz wrote, “a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member.”


Eric Ribellarsi, writing on the anti-imperialist blog Fire Collective, fired back at the critics:
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“This is not a story about a white man who goes to lead native peoples as their condescending savior…. It’s a story about a backward white man who is transformed and takes up armed struggle against imperialism alongside them.”


Personally, I prefer my sci-fi movies to be mindless escapism. But when it comes to a national discussion about race — to the extent that there is one at all — I accept the reality that Hollywood is the moderator and the Internet is the forum.

“Avatar” certainly keeps the discussion going.


Mystery Meat said...

Avatar is a Tarzan movie, complete with an animal stampede at the end. Remember Tarzan's yell?

The elephants would come running and trample the evildoers who were despoiling the jungle.

The point is, Tarzan was in charge and ruled the jungle and everything in it.

Tim Johnston said...

Even though throughout history it HAS been the white man who has come to the aid of other peoples to liberate them ...

It's also interesting that the Navi people (I haven't seen the movie yet) are considered 'people of colour' even when that colour is blue ...

Sean O'Brian said...

Even though throughout history it HAS been the white man who has come to the aid of other peoples to liberate them

Hmmhas anyone else had difficulty enjoying stuff like Lawrence of Arabia ever since the jihad went into full swing? I was re-watching an old Sinbad the Sailor film the other week and it turns out he's a Muslim. I found myself rooting for the Cyclops.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

Must be one of the most expensive back story propaganda movies in history, a background check of the financers maybe intersting, thought is was strange wasting so much effort and money on a bad plot.

History Snark said...

4Symbols, don't be too hard on anyone. A better solution would be for the producers of "Fern Gully" to sue Cameron. I've now heard 3 different people say that it's the exact same movie.

EileenOCnnr said...

"‘Avatar’ is part of important discussion about race"

Yeah, well, too bad it's yet another politically correct part of an overly politically correct disscussion. %-/

Anonymous said...

For me, all the criticism I have seen about "Avatar" so far only has managed to scratch the surface of what the truly horrible problem of this movie is. It's not about anti-americanism, or anti-militarism, or even white guilt. Yes, those points stand out glaringly obvious to especially the American audiences, but they are nothing but the surface, transported via the fact that Cameron employed a mostly anglospheric cast.

The true killer here are not these points, as preachy and unbearable as they certainly are on their own. No, "Avatar" is not merely that. "Avatar" is anti-civilizational, and in the end, anti-human. Cameron's message is that if you must choose between your own species and the survival and welfare of 20 billion humans as well as a lessened environmental impact on Earth itself on the one hand and a completely alien species which is unwilling to compromise but has hot blue chicks the correct choice, the morally right choice is the latter.

This isn't a "Pocahontas" or "Last Samurai" type of story where a westerner becomes part of a native human culture. This is the most basic us vs. them story possible: we against the aliens. And Cameron tells us to go with the blue smurfs. To me, that is anti-human.

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch this movie and I doubt I will watch it. I refuse to put money into the pockets of these people and considering I can't watch it in 3D at home with a downloaded copy, I'll have to pass. Besides the special effects, the movie seems worthless...