deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
[personal profile] deepad
For [personal profile] farside, who wanted this:
Avatar As European Orientalist Fantasy:
The film’s noble savages, the Na’vi – many of whom, though they are computer generated motion captures of real actors, are played by non-white actors – are an amalgam of all the noble savage clichés dating back centuries. They are in touch with nature. They believe, in fact, that their planet, Pandora, is one he living organism (Pandora’s bookshops must sell a lot of James Lovelock). They are violent but admirable. They like to hold hands and dance. They are sexually ambiguous. but still sexually appealing. They are superstitious and reliant on magic and all sorts of often brutal rites of passage. These may be noble savages in the film, but they are still savages and the film treats them as savages, as lesser people.
In a final insult, the Na’vi’s beliefs about their planet being a living organism are given endorsement in the film only when these beliefs are proven scientifically. This is the evolutionary narrative of history – out of darkness and into light, ironically, an idea that is deeply rooted in Christianity – in a nutshell. The Na’vi religion is nothing more than primitive science, an accident of insight that needs European systems of valuation for its legitimacy.

When will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar?:
When whites fantasize about becoming other races, it's only fun if they can blithely ignore the fundamental experience of being an oppressed racial group. Which is that you are oppressed, and nobody will let you be a leader of anything.

On Avatar, the Movie:
Avatar is a fantasy in which the history of colonization is rewritten, but it a fantasy specifically for white people living with a heavy dose of liberal guilt. And it is one that, ultimately, marginalizes indigenous peoples and affirms white supremacy.
If it were a fantasy for, say, the American Indian population in the U.S., the story might go a little differently. In that fantasy there would be no Sully character. It’s that simple.

In Which We Teach James Cameron A Thing Or Two:
But the more blatant lesson of Avatar is not that American imperialism is bad, but that in fact it’s necessary. Sure there are some bad Americans—the ones with tanks ready to mercilessly kill the Na’vi population, but Jake is set up as the real embodiment of the American spirit. He learns Na’vi fighting tactics better than the Na’vi themselves, he takes the King’s daughter for his own, he becomes the only Na’vi warrior in centuries to tame this wild dragon bird thing. Even in someone else’s society the American is the chosen one. He’s going to come in, lead your army, fuck your princesses, and just generally save the day for you. Got it? This is how we do it.

My Thoughts On Avatar, Let Me Show You Them:
Had the Navi’s beliefs of Eywa and the network really been ‘merely’ religious and cultural, there would have really been no reason, to Cameron’s view, of sparing the Navi and their way of life. Grace would have been the hero, because she was trying to ‘educate’ the natives and ‘civilize develop’ them. And that in itself is so full of privilege — not only Western privilege, but modern privilege — that it’s actually rather horrible if you think about it.
Seriously. You don’t need to kill people to commit genocide. All you need to do is erase their identity and existence. And you and do that without killing.

In comments to a post:
What struck me was that when Jake puts the moves on Neytiri and there's the scene where they're moving towards a tumble in the bioluminescent grass, Neytiri has her hair down...and it's straight as a board. So, on the one hand, James Cameron probably meant for this to represent her vulnerability and inexorable slide into the pit of passion in the classic "woman lets her hair down for sex" trope, but on the other hand, she removes any troublesome ethnic (to white viewers) connotations from her braided hair before she "mates" with Jake.

Promoting James Cameron’s Avatar: Let’s Talk Jake Sully and Disability:
Though the movie wasn’t as ableist as I ancipated, Sully’s disability felt more like a cheap way to make the character sympathetic than anything else. The writers wanted to give him a motive for participating in the mission which would seem sympathetic, and a disabled man supposedly “getting his legs back” was what they came up with. That’s tapping into all sorts of ableist conceptions which are widely shared. I also didn’t really see Sully wanting to undertake the mission because he wanted to “make a difference.” I saw it more in terms of him wanting to undertake the mission for ableist reasons, and also for lack of anything better to do. [from comments]

Delux Vivens:
Much like people keep fantasizing about how they would have treated indigenous people in the us/western hemisphere differently than their great great grandpappy did (?), people keep talking about how they'd help the na'vi *now*, if avatar was really actually happening, or something like that.

What this sort of deep seated savior fantasy ignores is all the ways in which the situation affecting the na'vi is happening right here, right now, on planet earth, and many of these same folks who were moved to tears (and beyond) by the plight of fictional characters are completely ignoring it.

ETA:
[livejournal.com profile] drelfina's post on Avatar:
Frankly, the first thing that I was staring at when the Na'vi, the blue alien species, popped up, was the Love Interest's boobs.
Because non-placental non-mammalian species from a completely different planet/moon with a completely different evolutionary path looking remarkably like humans with furry ears tacked on is just so biologically implausible as to have me be laughing my biologist ass off every time I saw them.


[personal profile] holyschist's A really long critique of Avatar:
The fakeness and biology fail of the animals is really blinding; it's something plenty of non-biologist people on the internet picked up on very quickly. Yet apparently no one on Cameron's creative team did...or worse, they thought audiences would be too stupid to notice that they cut corners (animating a tetrapod horse with two extra legs is probably a lot easier than developing a convincing skeleton, musculature, and movement for a hexapod horse).


I don't have the money to pay to appreciate the 3D effects, so I had no intention of watching the movie; my only observation on it is that it has been amusing to see conversations with Americans stumble because I refuse to mispronounce the Sanskrit word 'avatar'.

(no subject)

Date: 11/1/10 04:35 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I don't think the 3D effects are worth either the money or putting up with the terrible, terrible racism and sexism-as-usual or the questionable disability politics. Plus the worldbuilding is about the same quality as the plot.

(no subject)

Date: 11/1/10 05:13 am (UTC)
ardhra: Maya Arulpragasam and Santi White (girls)
From: [personal profile] ardhra
Sneak in.

(no subject)

Date: 11/1/10 08:07 am (UTC)
willow: Red haired, dark skinned, lollipop girl (Default)
From: [personal profile] willow
Uhm, ok, now I'm hunting down pronunciation guides cause I didn't know there was the possibility of misprouncing it.

(no subject)

Date: 11/1/10 03:27 pm (UTC)
roga: coffee mug with chocolate cubes (Default)
From: [personal profile] roga
This is wonderful! Thank you. I will be linking to these.

(no subject)

Date: 12/1/10 03:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shantirosa.livejournal.com
Thanks for all the links!

And pronouncing 'avatar' correctly makes Brits stumble too in conversation, believe me. :P

(Just a lurker around here - hope you don't mind random comments.)

(no subject)

Date: 13/1/10 02:55 am (UTC)
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)
From: [personal profile] holyschist
I wrote a long but non-comprehensive critique here; I don't think I got anything really subtle wrt to the racefail, and everything I said there has been said better elsewhere, but if you're linking to anything critical about the movie, I did a bunch of complaining about the science at the end.

(no subject)

Date: 13/1/10 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shantirosa.livejournal.com
I am! Born and raised in the UK though.

(no subject)

Date: 16/1/10 09:03 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] linkspam_mod
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deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
Deepa D.

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