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Avatar: Is Racism Fantasy? (Spoilers)

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I might be the last person on earth (or at least in my town) to see the movie Avatar.  Avatar was one of the “must-see” movies during this holiday season.  I had watched the movie trailers and I love science fiction so I just knew this would be a great movie.  My husband, eight year old son and I went to see the 3-D version this afternoon.

Avatar was certainly beautiful!  I had heard that it was one of the most expensive movies ever made.  I was immediately drawn into the fantasy world of Pandora and the spirit of the people who live there.  The story line was engaging and entertaining.  The thing is, though, that I bring my whole self to every situation I experience and I have to say that the racial overtones in Avatar were in no way subtle.

The indigenous people of the world of Pandora were definitely meant to be evocative of people of color.  The physical features like full lips, high check bones, microbraids or locs had to be intentional.  Even many of the actors who “play” the main characters of the Pandora world are people of color, that is Black, Latino and Native American people.  Now, that is not the problem.  I love movies, especially scifi movies, that include people of color.

Why is it, though, that people of color (especially black people) are always portrayed as innocently naive people who can not save themselves from threatening situations?  Why is it that the white man can always come into the community of color, get the prettiest, smartest girl/king’s daughter/main women of color, beat down the best warrior/king/main guy of color, save the day and win the admiration/respect/undying love/loyalty of all the people?  And of course, the main guy of color is always killed/shamed/rendered impotent.  I mean, why is that?  Is this the white man’s way of living out his fantasies? 

I was embarrassed that my son was watching this movie where someone whom he would one day look like is being portrayed as not being able to utilize his own resources to save his own and his people’s collective asses.  Let alone not being able to hang on to a woman who had been promised to him from birth.  On top of that, the white man had only lived in the village for 3 months and he figured out a way to become a legend when all the other men in the community, no, in the entire world could not!

Of course, as always and as is realistic, the humans (mostly white) were the aggressors, wanting to destroy the community of color in order to make money.  In one scene near the end, when the head of security is rallying the troops to destroy the sacred home of the indigenous Pandorans, the directors made sure that people of color (Latinos, blacks, etc) were seen agreeing with the strategies and plan to destroy/kill/eliminate the “hostiles.”  I mean, come on, that was a heavy handed way of saying, “See? This is not a white vs. people of color thing!”  WTF!

See this is why I can never be a movie reviewer.  I have no patience for racism no matter how its dressed up, no matter how many awards it receives and no matter how many people are enthralled by it.  Avata is a beautiful movie and many people will pay to see it.  My son thought it was great and wants to see it again.   I, however, can not leave my consciousness at the ticket booth with Avatar or any other movie.


About taviaz

I am a Diva, certainly. Complex, natural woman, writer, entreprenuer, cautious risk taker, therapist, social worker, nurturing mother, ride or die wife, loyal friend.

One response »

  1. I am angry and frustrated.
    Not because a white man invaded someone else’s land…again
    …appropriated their culture, seduced the heiress, and became everything akin to Jesus..again

    I’m angry because I’m tired. It’s 2010 and the storyline of a white man who thinks he’s a martyr to all people who walk with a swag different than his, is being perceived as just that: a storyline.

    As I began to reach for a tissue and dap my eyes a bit, something told me that the people sitting around me were not taking this Avatar thing as personal as I was. Am I the only one crying? I thought I heard sniffles in the back, but a closer listen revealed that it was just them trying to sip that last bit of overpriced drink.

    Still not sure if I was watching the same movie as everyone else, I saw more than just a glow in the dark forest that made my toes sing. I saw a clear reflection of what has and continues to happen throughout the world. Conquest. Greed. Territorialism. White supremacy…and while I’m at it, Human supremacy. For me, Avatar was about our lives. Our world. Right now. And I know I’m not saying anything new. I hope I’m not, because..well…it was thrown in our faces for three hours. No potty breaks or infomercials.

    I wonder if there will ever be a time, when I can watch a movie with said storyline and not get pissed off. Will we evolve to a more peaceful state of negotiating? (and I say we, because although I’m not white…I am human..and sometimes forget how to be peace filled) When will white people stop being perceived as the almighty powerful savior of all people? …and the ultimate question that I had to ask myself…how REAL is their supremacy in the first place…and in what ways are my thoughts fueling this concept?


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