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“We're telling the story of what happens when a technologically superior culture comes into a place with a technologically inferior indigenous culture..."
I personally don't know the man, never talked to him. All I have to go on is his work.
For example, how does Neytiri know that Jake is fake?
It seems that, in the future, nearly every human is white, save for a very few background extras, one soldier, Private Fike (Sean Anthony Moran, blink and you'll miss him) and one scientist, Dr. Max Patel (Dileep Rao: DRAG ME TO HELL), who has about four lines and 30 seconds out of a 2 hour and 40 minute movie. So all of the hybrid-Na'vi like Jake, Grace, and Norm are thin lipped Na'vi hybrids. Cameron cast all of the lead Na'vi primitives using minority actors. Why would James cast only minority actors as all of the major alien characters in his movie HE wrote, Directed, Produced, Edited, and had full control over, unless he felt that minorities do a great job of physically appearing like primitive tree dwellers?
You think I'm kidding?
Of the five lead Na'vi who have speaking roles, four of them are African American - Zoe Saldana (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL), CCH Pounder (END OF DAYS), Laz Alonso (CONSTANTINE, CAPTIVITY), Peter Mensah (also dies in 300) - and one is American Indian actor, Wes Studi (DEEP RISING). Moran and Rao are basically background extras with a few lines. There is only one minority actor in this movie who plays a human who has an actual, pivotal role and appreciable time in this movie and that's Michelle Rodriguez (RESIDENT EVIL) who plays Trudy Chacon.
So guess what happens to her?
Lots of white people die, which makes sense during the battle scenes because virtually all of the soldiers are white anyway. Michelle's character of Chacon turns on her own people, the earthlings, and so is killed by the white folks as a traitor. True, she dies saving the good white people (in their Avatar bodies), but the heroic minority who martyrs themselves to save the white folk is largely part of the grand Racial Cliche scheme of things.
This makes Coincidence 86 and the fourth "coincidence" for James Cameron. It is what it is and there may be a very good, wonderful reason why James makes movies that use this pathetic story telling crutch.
I just don't know that reason.
Politics plays in here because AVATAR Writer, Producer, Director, Creator James Cameron intentionally made this movie political - a protest against the Bush policies of the War on Terror - and these types of movies are invariably made by vocal supporters of left-wing politics. Every one of these movies are about the same thing: Conservative, Capitalist folks are bad. It takes a liberal white, usually a man, to save the noble yet undeveloped, weak, and backward people, as they are too ignorant or primitive to save themselves. You must first wow them with your inate superiority (Of all of your dragon riders, I ride the biggest most bad-ass dragon!) then speak down to them in a patronizing language they'll understand "You are a great warrior, but only I can lead your people!"
The White Liberal Hero must correct the wrongs of the cartoonishly evil White Conservatives (may or may not be capitalist or religious), as well as all of the non-whites on their side. All non-whites who rebel against the evil white people must sacrifice themselves for the good white hero: Only liberal caucasian males can lead the noble, savage, primitives to salvation.
It's not like every writer who writes a Vampire or Zombie story believes in such monsters. Yet when you look at some of the early writings of H.P. Lovecraft, the man was clearly a racist, regardless of whether or not he believed in his mythos (read THE RATS IN THE WALLS and the name of his protagonist's dog!).
When you make a movie like AVATAR, dedicate years of your life to it, stake your reputation on it, and you do interview after interview extolling your passion for it and "the message" of your movie, of course it is because you genuinely believe in it. Cameron says that he dwelt on this story idea for decades. He calls it his most personal.
So for all of the apologists, why would Cameron NOT believe in the moral of his movie when he says he DOES believe in it?
And of course, this patriarchal, looking-down-one's-nose at the adorable yet backwards primitives and wanting to lead them is NEVER considered racist. No. No. No. No. No. Why, I must BE a racist for even pointing it out.
UPDATES: Except Others See it Too...
Annalee Newitz wonders aloud at io9, When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?
Minorities = children in Avatar
This review copyright 2009 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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