Going Native

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While this is an insightful read, I'm kind of surprised you didn't at least touch on the OTHER obvious-as-hell-from-the-trailers "message" Avatar is bringing to the table with all the delicacy of a sledgehammer. High-tech, almost exclusively white soldiers, with an equal mixing of Hollywood and Southern accents, raping a foreign land full of people who don't look like them for its energy source - what evil people, I'm sure glad I'm not one of them! Or, oh, wait...

One-sided hyperbolic allegory for a political dead horse the American public has almost totally lost interest in: the reason I'll be Netflixing Avatar, if I bother to see it at all.

By the way, FernGully.

An interesting read; It is something of a dark spot in my country's history, the whole colonial thing. Even though we were the first major power to outlaw slavery, we maintained a vast network of colonies up to the 21th century. Although I will add that we were probably no worse that the native despots who ruled before us.

Btw, on the subject of native Americans in fiction/sci-fi, Bob, you might be interested in the "Vampire Earth" series. Its a story of the human armies of Earth trying to take back a planet invaded by an alien species - and the main character is native-American. Whilst I wouldn't say their great novels, on par with the greats of sci-fi (like Dune, for example), there an enjoyable read and good books.

Just finished seeing it.

I think "deliciously terrible" sums up my opinion. The plot is nothing but formulaic and predictable, but it makes for great watching. If I had chosen to take a toke, like my friends, my experience could have been enhanced tenfold.

Shamus Young:

Sure... just keep telling yourself that.

So you're saying you can comfortably judge me without ever having met me? Or are you saying white people are uniquely pre-disposed to racism? After spending so much time viewing movies are you suddenly taking a turn as a projectionist?

Good as always, up until that last line, which seemed to engage in the very sort of sloppy thinking you'd just so eloquently demolished.

EDIT: After re-reading my own comment: Wow. This came off as WAY more snarky than I intended. I was just trying to do a funny little, "NO U!" for the ending. I loved the article, much love, etc.

Yeah, QFT. Would i side with land-grabbing imperialists or blue vaguely catlike aliens? Aliens, of course. And not only because of moral side. I like both cats and aliens - when there's cat-aliens, sign me up! Plus, i don't like greedy douchebags even when racism isn't involved.

In short, that i'm of Caucasian descent does not mean i am, as Yahtzee put it, a greedy exploitative fuck.

See, normally stories with tree-hugging, "we must love and respect every living creature on the planet" protagonists rub me the wrong way. It oversimplifies the real belief systems of indigenous peoples and glosses over their shortcomings at the same time. I like my anti-biotics, heated house, running water and reliable food supply, thank you very much. And clearly the Na'vi have shortcomings. They're being threatened by offworld invaders, and the clans can't unite against the threat unless somebody exploits one of their ancient legends first? Does This Remind You Of Anything?

In this case, though, the Na'vi can neurologically interface with all the lifeforms on their planet. They can transfer their memories and experiences into trees, and access them at a later point. That means the trees are more than just their homes or a symbolic representation of their goddess. The trees are their libraries, archives, museums, and classrooms. So the destruction of their environment isn't just attacking the symbols of their culture--it's attacking their actual culture. The mining company is perpetrating a crime equal to burning down the Library of Alexandria. So who are the savage rapacious Visigoths in this scenario? (Yes, I'm aware I'm mixing my history here.)

One more point tangentially-related to the article. So we've had at least two major films on recent African history in the last couple of years: Last King of Scotland about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, and now Invictus about Nelson Mandela. In both cases, apparently the lives of the two men in question are not compelling enough to fill out a two hour movie unless there's also a white co-star grabbing half the screen time.

Maybe I'll forgive Last King since it's based on a successful novel, and a biopic of Amin would probably never have been made without that connection. But you're telling me Mandela's life doesn't have enough material for a two hour movie, that you have to sidecar it to the story of a rag-tag team of misfits winning the championship? And we're getting this from Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman! I just shake my head at that one.

Yea, I'd be one of those evil imperials. I'm hardly opposed to allowing non-humans to live but I think that as a human(and a citizen of whatever nation I'd be in within whatever universe I'm in) It would be my resoponsibility to do what was in my people's best intrests. Even if securing the resources to continue Humanity's expansion meant exterminating another race. Survival of the fittest people, If it's them now or us in the future; then my first choice is to hand them a star chart and a few ships and send 'em packing. My second is to look for more resources. And my last is to kill the unlucky natives.

I'd also like to point out that the side with more non-humans/white people seems to always be the good guys. The more homogenous a side is the less good they are. So It's always a good idea to keep a few of them around for later. Find allies, and keep them around as long as they're willing.

He does raise a good point.

"A Man called Horse" probably deserves to get tacked onto the list of movies about white men experiencing a foreign culture and becoming accepted therein.

I'd also like to point out that much of the fiction mentioned, e.g. Tarzan, isn't just about race, it's also about class - the fact the hero's a Lord is what makes him different, and not just the fact he's white. Although it's a moot point since all Lords were assumed to be white, at a guess.

Don't forget District 9: that had some of the same elements in it, although an original, possibly parody of an ending. That being that the white guy physically becomes an alien and loses his former identity and all the power he had. Appropriately, he then has very little to no power (from the looks of it).

Nice writeup though.

I read up and down how folks draws similarities to movies like, dancing with wolfs, and what not.
What I find strange is that so few sees the similarities to the Sioux tribes and their war when it comes to this film. Imo, nothing resembles more than that =).

1. Technically advanced army arrives at natives land.
US colonists etc stumbles across the natives of north America.
2. They first try to reason with the various tribes.. but incidentally they fail.
3. Now things start to heat up. in the 1870-80s The settles discovered that there where apparently vast amounts of riches ( aka gold) in the Suioux' tribes most sacred place. Paha Sapa. And now the modern western Europeans arrive in force to take these riches from the savages, first they try to make the splited Sioux tribes to give up the mountains, sell them.. but instead refusing to give up their holy mountains of their gods.
And when gold diggers and what not attempt to get their hands on the riches, they get attacked, killed and what not by the natives, for trespassing. (remember the first encounter with the na'vi in zhe movie)
4. Now they decide to send in the army (under the famous general Custer(who also hated the natives guts)), to throw out the natives from the area.. with force if needed, to make way for the western people to harvest this lands vast riches..
5. So.. its the modern technological army, that faces the savage natives..
6. Yet, the Sioux tribes gathered, and => managed to literally wipe out the army (lead by general Custer).

Now, you can start switching out various names. throw in the ones from the list below and you got avatar (Without the "Traitor" from the earthlings) =)
Settlers/western europeans/modern army with humans from earth.
the Sioux Tribes with the Na'vi.
Paha Sapa with the Na'vi's big tree.
Gold with the metal in question in Avatar.

Anyone agree? =)

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