White Savior Movies Are Weird

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White Savior Movies Are Weird

History is written by the victors, so we celebrate coming to America and making it what it is today, instead of mourning what America turned into once Europeans found it.

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I can't speak for the other movies, since I haven't seen them, but I think your view on The Last Samurai is a very shallow one.

The movie depicts a man that is fed up with being the killer, he resents the military he serves for killing innocents and engaging in the morally bankrupt endeavors and he hates himself for partaking in it, the reason he agrees to go train the Japanese soldiers is because "It's all he's good for", but also because he secretly hopes to die there, as Katsumoto deduces during one of their conversations, his disregard for his own safety is what catches their attention and they take him prisoner.

His captors teach him another view on life, and he warrior's way, one of mastery, discipline and introspection, he finds a way to deal with his guilt and be at peace.
He's not even the best samurai among them, he gets his ass repeatedly kicked by senior samurai as the others bet against losses continuously, he wins ONE sparring round and that's it, anyone can win one round.

The movie is not about the white man saving the day, it's about having respect for others, their culture, their livelihoods and traditions, it's about staying true to oneself despite the adversity railed against you, stoicism is a big part of the movie because it's a big part of Japanese culture, and it's not a bad thing.

In fairness to Dances with Wolves, law enforcement regularly shoots harmless animals in the name of 'safety'. So that was probably the most accurate thing about that movie.

Umm...One thing you overlooked about Avatar?

"and ends up fighting back his own kind better than the indigenous people ever could"

Uhh...YEAH?!

The Navi were nature-tuned. They don't UNDERSTAND technology because they don't have any themselves. Did you see the vehicles at the start of the movie? Full of arrows in the wheels and sticking out of the hull. It's not until the hero sits down and explains to them how tech works that they go "OH! There are humans PILOTING those things? And I can kill them if I just go really up close to the window for maximum impact and shoot the person inside?!"

It makes sense from a plot perspective! They don't USE technology, so they don't understand how it works or how to fight it. Of course they need an outsider who knows what technology is in order to explain it to them!

Besides, he's just paying them back for showing him how to use his blue cat body in the actual jungle. He was freakin' hopeless at first, remember?

This is a good part of why I'm excited about Disney's new Jungle Book movie. There are so many stories of people getting lost in the wilds and communing with the animals, but the Jungle Book is one of the few stories where the human character is actually a local resident of the area. As opposed to Tarzan or George of the Jungle, which tend to just pretend places with vast jungles aren't already inhabited by societies of humans, if not within them then at least nearby somewhere.

Come to think of it, as much as I love Atlantis: The Lost Empire, it's a bit like Stargate in that a non-white indigenous people are dying out and have lost all knowledge of their history, yet a group of white people (and one token black and one token latina) come to re-teach them their written language, their history, and how to work their ancient technologies. Well, first they come to exploit their resources, THEN a group of them turns rogue to help and save them in the end. I can understand how a long-lived society which has forbidden the use of its technologies would eventually forget how to use said technologies over the course of a thousand years or so. But forgetting their WRITTEN language? That's a bit too integral for a society of their size to function.

Again, I think it's a very underrated Disney film...but goodness does it stink of white savior syndrome.

A white guy is taken in by an indigenous people, teaches them about their own language and history, and then leads them on a revolt for their own freedom in a way that they never would have attempted without him being just so darn awesome.

No. He teaches them their history because their ancestors wrote it in hieroglyphs in hidden caves. Hieroglyphs they can't read because their god - the one who orders mass executions at defiance and who they're freaking terrified of - outlawed the written word (also the caves have been mostly forgotten about too). As for language, well yeah, he's an expert on it and I've just explained why they don't have it. As for the revolt, they already despised their lot in life. Sha're (the chick) and Skaara (the boy) already were harboring ideas of revolt, and seeing how many recruits they got to stop the executions many others did as well. Also, once Daniel exposes one of the guards as human (or Jaffa) everyone joins, showing that only their belief they were serving gods kept them all from rebelling. The Stargate team were just the catalyst that gave these rebels the means and justification to do it with a chance of success.

I gotta disagree with some of this. The Last Samurai is a white guy that falls in love with a highly romanticized version of feudal Japan so much he emulates them and becomes an evangalist for their way of life after "killin injuns" gets to him back home.

Might as well call it "The First Weeaboo"

Also, the Na'vi are a brutal species to be a part of; The only reason Jake wasn't outright murdered at the beginning was because the one aiming at him thought he was hot, they are painted as enlightened for not developing technology because their god/planet won't allow it, and how many kids die every year to that rite-of-passage of theirs?

So who's gonna tell'em all these movies are about bridging cultural divides as peacefully as possible in the face of otherwise pervasive obstinate xenophobia on both sides?

Who's-is, is it me?
Am I supposed to tell'em?
Shoot, I didn't really dress for this *ahem* ahhh....
We'll return after these messages *jazz hands*

Funny that this comes out now. A few days ago Australia Day was celebrated. Or, as the native Australians call it, Invasion Day. Fair assessment, all things considered.

That said, I find the idea of "white saviour" to be a little...eh, at least in the examples given. Usually within the confines of the setting, the character's ethnicity has no relevance to the story. This may have some bearing in Last Samurai or Dances with Wolves (neither of which I've seen), but for the other examples:

-Avatar: Well, let's get the "movie people love to hate" out of the way first. But to start off, this is a case where the character's ethnicity has nothing to do with the circumstances presented. But that aside, is it a saviour movie? Um...well...

To be honest, I've never seen Avatar as a "Indians in space" story, but rather an inverse on the idea of alien invasion. It's part of why I've never seen Avatar as being cliched. Because in many stories, it's a case of "aliens invade, humans win, aliens are badguys." Here, while the humans are 'invading,' they're being restrained about it, working for over 20 years before the shit really hits the fan, and trying to find a diplomatic solution. They fail, true, but I find Avatar to be both a cold movie, yet also a sympathetic one in its implications. The na'vi are 'better' than humanity, but it's a status that's rooted in their biology. They're taller (because their world's low gravity allows it), they're stronger (because their biology allows it), and they're more culturally and environentally stable because their psuhelu (sp.?) allows it. Humanity has produced its own wonders and innovations (getting to Pandora in the first place), but while some rise to meet the challenge, others don't, and taking the film to a possible conclusion, humanity is doomed by its failure, both on Earth, and on Pandora. And the universe doesn't care. Same way humans traditionally win against invading aliens, the na'vi win as well, by using their natural strengths with tactics Jake gives them. Because apart from Jake's M60 and Trudy's Samson, the na'vi are fighting with their own arsenal, and win because of numbers in the end. Jakes helps them, sure, but it remains their own triumph, and Eywa's in a sense. Make of that what you will.

-FernGully: Ah, FernGully. Been ages since I've seen it, but I've never seen it as a "saviour" movie either. Because, looking back...what does Zach actually do? As in, if we see the story as ultimately a conflict between the forest and Hexus, what does Zach do to affect that outcome? From what I remember he's the one that shuts down the machine powering Hexus, but it's ultimately Krysta that saves the day that imprisons him. FernGully is far more a green film than a saviour film, in that most of it is Zach and Krysta bonding, and Zach learning about the beauty of the natural world. Humans ultimately release Hexus, but they're never presented as an antagonistic force, but rather the catalyst for the story. I actually see FernGully as being more akin to Furlings (anyone remember that) - yeah, it's a human that causes the gas seepage, but it's the catalyst for the story, not an adversary within it.

-Stargate: Of the three examples I've listed here, this comes closest to saviour territory. Speaking personally, Stargate is a weird one for me. On one hand, I can admit that most of the love for Stargate comes from SG-1 (and spinoffs), and that while the movie sparked the franchise, it's generally regarded as being "meh" taken on its own terms. I kinda agree, but while I like SG-1, there always felt like there was a disconnect between the TV series and its source material. But that's a discussion for another time. But going by the film itself, there's the saviour element - white men from the USA help primitive peoples that happen to correspond to an Egyptian (Middle-east) culture, arm them with technology, and help them overthrow their cruel master. And the main protagonists are all white. So, maybe.

On the other hand, I don't personally see it as being analogous to any 'white saviour' concept. Within the movie's lore, it's Ra that jumpstarts human civilization, and if we factor the tv series into it, we can infer that most, if not all of humanity's major civilizations were given the basis for their architecture and culture by the goa'uld. Ra is both creator and destroyer, so to speak. That remains true on Earth, and becomes true on Abydos. Ra gave Man technology, Man used that technology to overthrow him, Ra seeks to destroy humanity through its own technology (the naquedah-enhanced nuke), but is destroyed by his own creation (beaming the bomb up to his ship). I've heard it said that Stargate is actually thematically based around the concept of science/rationality vs. religion/dogma, and that ultimately tech wins out over Ra on Abydos. If the movie has a theme, I'm more inclined to side with that interpretation, but I can get how one would categorize it as a "white saviour" film.

It's odd that Disney's Pocahontas didn't make this list, what with it also being the exact same movie. The main thing that separates it from other entries in the genre is that the white non-protagonists are simply stupid and gullible instead of evil (except for Ratcliffe, who is just evil). But "Savages" is a better song than "Toxic Love" if you ask me.

Combustion Kevin:
I can't speak for the other movies, since I haven't seen them, but I think your view on The Last Samurai is a very shallow one.

The movie depicts a man that is fed up with being the killer, he resents the military he serves for killing innocents and engaging in the morally bankrupt endeavors and he hates himself for partaking in it, the reason he agrees to go train the Japanese soldiers is because "It's all he's good for", but also because he secretly hopes to die there, as Katsumoto deduces during one of their conversations, his disregard for his own safety is what catches their attention and they take him prisoner.

His captors teach him another view on life, and he warrior's way, one of mastery, discipline and introspection, he finds a way to deal with his guilt and be at peace.
He's not even the best samurai among them, he gets his ass repeatedly kicked by senior samurai as the others bet against losses continuously, he wins ONE sparring round and that's it, anyone can win one round.

The movie is not about the white man saving the day, it's about having respect for others, their culture, their livelihoods and traditions, it's about staying true to oneself despite the adversity railed against you, stoicism is a big part of the movie because it's a big part of Japanese culture, and it's not a bad thing.

As a Hapa Japanese woman who went to see this movie in theaters with her Japanese side of the family when she was little, that movie was one of the most insulting movies I've ever seen in my life.

You can spin it all you like. But you literally just described every single white savior story line ever. He's literally "the chosen one" because he waved a flag with a white tiger on it. And that was some destiny BS. I don't know why hollywood thinks that all non white people believe in random magic.

The only way to fix White Savior movies is to make every single character an asshole so you don't feel bad when any of them get killed. The Satsuma Rebellion and the Boshin War were further colonial meddling that just ended with thousands dying and rapid modernization being brought to Japan in the worst way possible.

Soviet Heavy:
The only way to fix White Savior movies is to make every single character an asshole so you don't feel bad when any of them get killed. The Satsuma Rebellion and the Boshin War were further colonial meddling that just ended with thousands dying and rapid modernization being brought to Japan in the worst way possible.

That's pretty much the opposite of fixing it, as it makes the protagonist just look even more awesome in comparison.

CaitSeith:

Soviet Heavy:
The only way to fix White Savior movies is to make every single character an asshole so you don't feel bad when any of them get killed. The Satsuma Rebellion and the Boshin War were further colonial meddling that just ended with thousands dying and rapid modernization being brought to Japan in the worst way possible.

That's pretty much the opposite of fixing it, as it makes the protagonist just look even more awesome in comparison.

Well we can just not have white savior movies at all. Since they usually are a way to cover a historical event or time period in a non white culture, but with the added "bonus" of a young white man that people can "relate" to. The guy that people can explain super neato traditions to.

Imagine if "To Live" was created by an american movie studio. What an odd representation of the Chinese revolution that would be.

So I guess ever encountering a different culture that resonates with you deeper than your home culture makes you an affront to the culture you find yourself more deeply connected with and therefore is bad and also terrible writing?

Someone needs to inform emigration than they're enabling something terrible. All this cultural appropriation needs to be stopped.

Also kinda cool how you can be "too white"(though obviously this would apply to all outsiders) to be considered able to ever integrate into a different society. So that's cool too.

Stargates a bit of an odd one to take. Its not like the natives forgot their own history/language through ineptitude, its that a more powerful colonial force (in a bit of an unusual take, non-white, though being ALIENS may vary on whether you want to take that as a metaphor) was literally murdering the crap out of them and suppressing it. The white dudes also don't actually "go native", unless my memory of the movie is terrible. They align with them out of a mutual goal of taking down Ra, but prettymuch stick to their own methods and culture in the process.

Areloch:
So I guess ever encountering a different culture that resonates with you deeper than your home culture makes you an affront to the culture you find yourself more deeply connected with and therefore is bad and also terrible writing?

Someone needs to inform emigration than they're enabling something terrible. All this cultural appropriation needs to be stopped.

Also kinda cool how you can be "too white"(though obviously this would apply to all outsiders) to be considered able to ever integrate into a different society. So that's cool too.

It's funny though how a western person can hate things about their own culture and visit another culture only to celebrate the exact same thing. The can hate for example hunters in their own countries but then think it's amazing when some other culture hunts animals. They can call their own people inbred if they live outside of cities, but call another people cultured for doing the same. Or, my personal favorite; "the native americans are amazing because they find a use for every single piece of a buffalo, eww, western factories make glue out of cow hooves?"

geekremix_Mari:

CaitSeith:

Soviet Heavy:
The only way to fix White Savior movies is to make every single character an asshole so you don't feel bad when any of them get killed. The Satsuma Rebellion and the Boshin War were further colonial meddling that just ended with thousands dying and rapid modernization being brought to Japan in the worst way possible.

That's pretty much the opposite of fixing it, as it makes the protagonist just look even more awesome in comparison.

Well we can just not have white savior movies at all. Since they usually are a way to cover a historical event or time period in a non white culture, but with the added "bonus" of a young white man that people can "relate" to. The guy that people can explain super neato traditions to.

Imagine if "To Live" was created by an american movie studio. What an odd representation of the Chinese revolution that would be.

That's even worse (having no white savior movies at all). Just because they tend to give a biased perspective, it doesn't mean they can't be done right.

super_mega_ultra:

Areloch:
So I guess ever encountering a different culture that resonates with you deeper than your home culture makes you an affront to the culture you find yourself more deeply connected with and therefore is bad and also terrible writing?

Someone needs to inform emigration than they're enabling something terrible. All this cultural appropriation needs to be stopped.

Also kinda cool how you can be "too white"(though obviously this would apply to all outsiders) to be considered able to ever integrate into a different society. So that's cool too.

It's funny though how a western person can hate things about their own culture and visit another culture only to celebrate the exact same thing. The can hate for example hunters in their own countries but then think it's amazing when some other culture hunts animals. They can call their own people inbred if they live outside of cities, but call another people cultured for doing the same. Or, my personal favorite; "the native americans are amazing because they find a use for every single piece of a buffalo, eww, western factories make glue out of cow hooves?"

Haha, yeah, it's kinda funny.

Though that's definitely not going to be a western-only thing. I'm willing to bet it's just an innate human behavior of seeing groups outside their own as different and exotic, even if in practice it's pretty much the same.

Sorta reminded about how during one of Gabriel Iglasias' standup routines, he made a joke in the 'redneck voice' and commented that he loves that voice, but make no mistake, Latinos have rednecks too. But no one THINKS their culture/region has rednecks other than the US.

But yeah, most of these movies I can think of and remember anything from usually involve the outsider shunning where they came from and what they had and integrating completely with the new society/culture. One would think it'd be a hailing of cultural bridging and putting yourself in a place you feel at home, but somehow it's actually some sort of racist thing about how 'white people are better'?

I've got to object to the "White Savior" movie term. The same way I'm sure people would object to calling something like Major Payne a "Black Savior" movie. That people would focus on the race as the qualifier is a problem. They're intended largely to just be average person savior movies. If the average person was black or Hispanic or anything else then you'd see a lot more of [insert alternate race here] savior movies. The general point being that the main character is serving more as an audience avatar than a special character all their own even though they are provided with a back story and motivations.

You could also call the ones you presented "American Savior" movies or "Outsider Savior" movies if you wanted to be most appropriate. Sometimes the person being white is just a product of 75% of America being white. Not that the person is thinking that the "white" person has something to offer that a black or Asian American wouldn't.

And, FYI, many of the movies listed actually show the culture they're entering into changing them into a better person that can then be heroic. Like fern gully, the "white guy" was part of the mechanism destroying the forest and the fairy taught him to care. then he fights against his own people. Same with nearly everything else you listed.

But maybe that's why these films are particularly good ones. It's not some white teacher going into an urban school and their nature of being white suddenly means they can do the job. It's people who integrate into the culture and save it out of love rather than magic white powers.

CaitSeith:

Soviet Heavy:
The only way to fix White Savior movies is to make every single character an asshole so you don't feel bad when any of them get killed. The Satsuma Rebellion and the Boshin War were further colonial meddling that just ended with thousands dying and rapid modernization being brought to Japan in the worst way possible.

That's pretty much the opposite of fixing it, as it makes the protagonist just look even more awesome in comparison.

Not if we just kill everyone in the movie.

Huh. So 'White Saviour' stuff is weird, but fostering even MORE White Guilt is okay.

Kind of a strange direction to take, if I'm honest.

Frankly, I'm more offended at The Last Samurai's blatant misrepresentation of Japanese history and glorification of feudal warlords.

Consider: a newly formed government is attempting to develop its backward country, abolishing the medieval caste system, bringing in things like modern medicine, a system of national education for everyone, and a rail transport network. Fighting against them are backwards tyrants who wish to ensure they keep their hereditary privileges, like legally being able to carry lethal weapons around and kill those ranked below them. The government hires a foreigner to modernize their military, and he proceeds to defect to the side of the warlords and teach them improved tactics, making putting down the rebellion even bloodier than it should be, all so that they could satisfy their urge to "die with honour".

Now that's a reductionist interpretation of the movie and history, but it's still better than the viewpoint the movie itself is pushing, which is "wow samurai are so awesome exotic and badass don't kill them you meanies :(."

"and ends up fighting back his own kind better than the indigenous people ever could"

And how's that wrong? He was in the military and understand these machines. Are the Na'Vi expected to instinctively know about technologies and a species they had never seen before a few years before? To easily fight people who have the technology to travel from one star to another?

These movies didn't strike me as weird when I saw them. Identity Politics is strange as fuck though.

I'd say the implication is that all these "other cultures" are so superior to "white" culture that the white protagonists just fall all over themselves to join the other, better, culture. They're in fact saying that white people are the most evil and inferior culture ever. Look at the villains in these movies. Last Samurai - white people, fern gully - white people, dance with wolves - white people, avatar - white people, clearly all these movies are implicitly saying that white people are the devil and only by abandoning their culture and heritage can they be purified and redeemed.

You can read a lot into things if you try.

Czann:
"and ends up fighting back his own kind better than the indigenous people ever could"

And how's that wrong? He was in the military and understand these machines. Are the Na'Vi expected to instinctively know about technologies and a species they had never seen before a few years before? To easily fight people who have the technology to travel from one star to another?

There's no reason why they couldn't have the navii get their hands on guns and learn how to use them. That's what happened during the Indian wars which Avatar is taking its' cues from. You could have just as easily had a navii protagonist leading a guerrilla war rather than doing dances with wolves with more cgi.

Grumpy Ginger:
...
You could have just as easily had a navii protagonist leading a guerrilla war rather than doing dances with wolves with more cgi.

Does that imply Rising of Planet of the Apes is a Chimp Savior type?

Also I don't understand how could the naviis really think they would win this war.
Humans have space domination. Something naviis will never get before centuries at best. Orbital bombing, atmospheric poisoning or plain guerilla-like abductions. In the end, and if the humans really push for it, naviis are history. Except through getting media attention, they were done for the second the earth army got their planet on their radar.

It's also interesting that most people see in the Avatar's story some native american vibes, while most of the setting could mirror Vietnam (jungle war) or Irak (securing vital resources). And the grey area just got greyer.

The Last Samurai
"First Tom is so brutal in the American civil war that the Japanese government hires him to train their troops to stop a samurai uprising."
If you're going to critique a movie, would it kill you to be accurate with it? Cruise's character wasn't fighting in the Civil War, it was the American Indian Wars.

Also, it's sort of weird to act like he was a "savior" of the Samurai, considering they still all died, and in fact he learned far more from them than they did from him.

What's funny too is that I could theoretically call these moves "white culture is terrible and awful and "Native" cultures are superior movies" and it basically still applies to the aforementioned films (except "Stargate", which was sort of a weird entry).

Ugh, can we put away the white guilt for a second and recognize that 'savior' movies are extremely common, and that there's a lot of cases where that character isn't white? Plus, a lot of these movies are about cultural exchange, which i guess white people are automatically evil for trying to do now, but also evil for not doing. Appropriation when we try, insensitivity if we don't. Damned either way.

Hell, one interpretation is that these movies are telling white people to abandon white culture. If we assume the protagonist is on some level an audience surrogate, and thing like avatar have them learning to hate white culture and move to a different culture, then it's less "white savior" and more "white person learns to have a better culture and reject their shit culture". Why's being a savior a bad thing anyway? If there's a problem, should i not try to help based on my race or sex? Would i be an evil white savior then? Or should i just resign myself to the fact that everything i could ever do is pure concentrated evil because i was born with light skin and a penis?

Combustion Kevin:
I can't speak for the other movies, since I haven't seen them, but I think your view on The Last Samurai is a very shallow one.

The movie depicts a man that is fed up with being the killer, he resents the military he serves for killing innocents and engaging in the morally bankrupt endeavors and he hates himself for partaking in it, the reason he agrees to go train the Japanese soldiers is because "It's all he's good for", but also because he secretly hopes to die there, as Katsumoto deduces during one of their conversations, his disregard for his own safety is what catches their attention and they take him prisoner.

His captors teach him another view on life, and he warrior's way, one of mastery, discipline and introspection, he finds a way to deal with his guilt and be at peace.
He's not even the best samurai among them, he gets his ass repeatedly kicked by senior samurai as the others bet against losses continuously, he wins ONE sparring round and that's it, anyone can win one round.

The movie is not about the white man saving the day, it's about having respect for others, their culture, their livelihoods and traditions, it's about staying true to oneself despite the adversity railed against you, stoicism is a big part of the movie because it's a big part of Japanese culture, and it's not a bad thing.

The theme of "White guy feeling guilty about taking part in historical genocide - exonerates himself by saving another race of people from worse white people" is a common one throughout these. The writers don't want to shy away from the terrible things white Americans have done, but at the same time, they tend to end up distancing the protagonist (and the audience) from the bad things by showing they didn't have their heart in it, didn't want to do it, or weren't directly involved in the slaughter themselves. In the end, the white hero is the one who kills the far more evil white guys, thus letting them wash their (and the audience's) hands of any guilt.

In The Last Samurai, Tom Cruise shows himself to be equal to the samurai, initially by killing loads of them, later by drawing with one in a duel, later still by leading the rescue operation, being the second in command in the final battle, killing the big bad, and then outliving every other samurai in the battle.

Lightknight:
I've got to object to the "White Savior" movie term. The same way I'm sure people would object to calling something like Major Payne a "Black Savior" movie.

The "White Savior" thing is not objectionable by itself, it's simply the overuse of it in Hollywood along with the misrepresentations of the cultures they "save" is the problem. Glory is technically a White Savior movie, but it is fairly accurate and based on real events that actually happened, and in addition, it spends quite a bit of time on focusing on the black characters' emotions and motivations and isn't all about Ferris Bueller. In other words, it's nuanced and accurate.

Major Payne is a comedy (and not a great one if you're asking me), and not meant to be taken seriously, and wasn't. The fact that that of all movies is the only one you can think of to defend your point is actually quite telling. You could at least throw in some Sidney Poitier movies in there to make that point, even his movies were extremely controversial when they came out for the very reason that a black man was trying to teach white people something.

Meanwhile the list of White Savior movies is a mile long. Some are less objectionable than others, but the point stands. Even modern movies based on real things, like The Blind Side, rather than focusing on the subject of the black subject of the movie, focusing on how great and heroic the white people are. Movies like The Help simply make up white people to focus on.

How about creating a movie depicting a foreign war or conflict where a white person doesn't swoop in to save the day? One that actually focuses on the struggles of the people it affected the most in a historically accurate way? Clint Eastwood proved you could do it to moderate success with Letters From Iwo Jima, and few people would accuse him of being a progressive liberal.

Except maaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe for Ferngully, you... Have very shallow views of all the movies you claim to have seen.

mtarzaim02:

Grumpy Ginger:
...
You could have just as easily had a navii protagonist leading a guerrilla war rather than doing dances with wolves with more cgi.

Does that imply Rising of Planet of the Apes is a Chimp Savior type?

Also I don't understand how could the naviis really think they would win this war.
Humans have space domination. Something naviis will never get before centuries at best. Orbital bombing, atmospheric poisoning or plain guerilla-like abductions. In the end, and if the humans really push for it, naviis are history. Except through getting media attention, they were done for the second the earth army got their planet on their radar.

It's also interesting that most people see in the Avatar's story some native american vibes, while most of the setting could mirror Vietnam (jungle war) or Irak (securing vital resources). And the grey area just got greyer.

The Native american parallels are more due to how the Navii are depicted as being the space equivalent of the stereotypical native american noble savage. With bows and arrows, war paint, a tribal system and down the the fact that when they do the rallying for the big battle they even have a plains tribes equivalent who are all horsemen.Also I thought though I have yet to see it that apes was a more morally grey story while Avatar was more black and white.

mtarzaim02:

Grumpy Ginger:
...
You could have just as easily had a navii protagonist leading a guerrilla war rather than doing dances with wolves with more cgi.

Does that imply Rising of Planet of the Apes is a Chimp Savior type?

Also I don't understand how could the naviis really think they would win this war.
Humans have space domination. Something naviis will never get before centuries at best. Orbital bombing, atmospheric poisoning or plain guerilla-like abductions. In the end, and if the humans really push for it, naviis are history. Except through getting media attention, they were done for the second the earth army got their planet on their radar.

It's also interesting that most people see in the Avatar's story some native american vibes, while most of the setting could mirror Vietnam (jungle war) or Irak (securing vital resources). And the grey area just got greyer.

Well that's the thing, isn't it? The Na'vi don't have to win the war at all. They simply have to make it impossible to maintain a commercially viable outpost on the planet. Remember the European settlers didn't wipe out the native tribes by sheer force of arms - they turned one against another. They allied with one Central American kingdom to destabilise another, then annexed them both while they were weak. The Na'vi had an advantage no indigenous people have had in history - they were united.

Sure, the humans could burn their forests and bomb their villages. The Na'vi don't need either. They could build a mine to get their precious metals, and the Na'vi would emerge from the forests under the cover of night, wreck machinery and slaughter workers and melt into the wilderness again before the humans could mount a counter-attack. Before long, the human and economic cost of mining this planet will take its toll and the human corporation will be forced to withdraw. It's also important to remember that every retaliatory strike would put pressure on the corporation from its home governments - the ones who sanction their weaponry and subsidise their operations. Permits get revoked, pressure from rights groups takes effect and sure enough, the Na'vi's world is just too much of a pain in the dick to mine anymore.

That is, in theory, how the Na'vi could win. Anyway - there's a few problems with the film's 'White Savior' approach and it's mostly that it suffers from the exact same issues other white savior movies do. The natives "don't understand technology." Are they intelligent enough to observe and extrapolate information? God no, they think it's voodoo magic from the gods. Do they get curious, try to capture some technology to take it apart (like humans typically do)? Also no. Because they're not clever enough, on account of not being the White Saviour.

I don't like White Saviour movies much purely because the saviour is usually American. Not being American, I don't relate to this dude any more than I'd relate to a 'native.' The thing about stories is that they typically rely on human emotions. Things that everyone has. A man fighting for his freedom and country and family doesn't have to be white so we'd relate to him.

And I guess the most annoying part is everyone who justifies the White Saviour trope will do so using in-fiction reasons. No, he wasn't better at it because he was white, he was better at it because he was a notorious colonel in some other war and and he's actually on a quest to find meaning in his life because the only thing he is good at is cruelty! Weren't you paying attention?!

This right here is stupid logic. The White Saviour is not a real person. You are not explaining a series of events that happened. You are fabricating a series of events from the ground up. You made him a white American man in a different cultural setting and then justified it afterwards. What message are you trying to send with your film? Are you telling a story about a guy who sets out to find meaning in his shitty life or are you telling a story about a civil war in a far-off country? If you're doing neither, and just want some cool set pieces and historical drama, it begs the exact same question. You wrote the white guy. You cast the white guy. Then you realised you'd have to explain how the white guy got there, so you made some shit up.
This is basically the creative process in a nutshell. You get your basic plot, some scenes you really like, maybe a dramatic speech you thought up in the shower and decided was really cool, then you work everything else out to justify it all. This is why movies based on true stories end up butchering their source material. They take what they consider important from the source, then they cut bits and add bits that they think would carry over better to film.

EDIT- As a really minor example of the backwards justification, take In Bruges. In that, Ken and Ray were originally from London. They were Londoners. It was only after Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson got the roles that McDonagh changed their backstory to be from Dublin, because their accents are really quite prominent. Now the film is about two Irish hitmen hiding out in Bruges, rather than two English ones. A very minor difference, but the editing happened because the characters had inexplicable Irish accents that needed to be retroactively justified.

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