I have a bunch of thoughts, though I have to say... James Cameron is a horrible writer. The dialog was atrocious. And everything else you've heard? That it's gorgeous? True. That it's the story of white manifest destiny transposed onto a human/alien conflict in which a white guy/human not only becomes an Indian/alien, but ends up being a better Indian/alien than has ever been EVAR? Also true. Very, very true.
For those white folks sitting around in denial that this was just a "space fantasy" (written for white people, I assume) and totally NOT about race (and racism) as we know and have known it and that anyone analogizing the Na'vi and name-your-indigenous population is just seeing things.... Well, denial's not just a river in Egypt.
Well, if nothing else that's been written about this film drives the point home, I found the casting... interesting. Here are the actors cast in the four major Na'vi roles:
Yeah, maybe not so much guilt but, lately, I've been feeling like I think everything is racist and wasn't sure if it was my narrow perception or if other people were thinking it's racist too. (All the reviews I saw about the movie were completely positive.)
Thank you for writing that makes me re-examine the art I see. Whatever your intent for committing your thoughts to electrons, I'm glad you do. May I have your permission to post a link to this entry in my LJ and FB?
> For those white folks sitting around in denial that this was just a "space fantasy" (written for white people, I assume) and totally NOT about race (and racism) as we know and have known it and that anyone analogizing the Na'vi and name-your-indigenous population is just seeing things....
that being said, I'm going to see it for the Spectacle. even before the reviews started coming in, I knew that a) James Cameron has no subtlety and b) he can still craft a story that moves. it's really interesting to see that everyone who has any critical thinking skills and has studied narratives says more or less the same thing.
That's a really good review, and I like that she pointed out that other angle, which I was aware of but didn't dwell on much. I did hate the way the military men were portrayed in this film--that they were automatically set up to be insensitive, unintelligent, and needlessly cruel. I mean, I guess I'm just thinking that in light of the number of soldiers being injured and disabled in our current conflicts, American (and really--this film doesn't make room for The Company's mercenaries to be anything but American) military folks would be a bit above making "meals on wheels" jokes about a Marine in a wheelchair.
It was just another element of the movie in which James Cameron decided to forgo any kind of subtlety to bash! us! over! the head! with his simple-minded sermonizing, because otherwise we'd all be too stupid to get it.
Fucked up truth of it is, outside of your LJ and circles of people like it, people are too stupid, in a manner of speaking.
I haven't seen it. I was stoked that humans were the bad guys, for a change. I like the idea of beating people over the head with stuff that will challenge their ethics, make them think a bit. I'm gonna see it, 'cause it looks like it's gonna be a good time, in spite of the fact that it's (as I figured) problematic (like pretty much everything else).
I'd love to hear your take after you've seen it. Overall I felt like it was a great concept, with a lot of lost opportunities, and some unforgivably racist portrayals. But definitely worth checking out...
Never seen it. Can't think of much in the way of older films, but that's probably a failure on my part.
There's Apocalypse, Now, based on Heart of Darkness, of course. The Last of the Mohicans. Dances With Wolves. And pretty much any pulp romance written by Cassie Edwards.
Still in the Mighty Whitey category, but with less assimilation, Amistad and Schindler's List, since Spielberg is too much of a coward to ever have a hero of the oppressed be the oppressed in his historical epics.
AMCH is from 1970. I'm sure there's an earlier example. "Hombre" has Newman as an Apache-raised man, close but not the same, there's not the acceptance arc. There's also a weird vein of "half breed" characters in the 60s and 70s, ie Billy Jack.
In other matters, there's quite a few films about white northerners who sort things out in quaint lil southern towns. white southerners, if smart, are evil, racist, and tyrannical. The "good" ones are too stupid and helpless to fix anything. There's often a Magic Negro or a Stepin Fetchit type to round out the cast.
But missing from this trope is the "rites of passage" that are in films like Avatar. So they're not the same but similar in some respects.