***We're looking for contributors***

         

'Avatar': Movie Racist & Paganistic? & China Ban

In James Cameron's Avatar, a white human is turned into a blue Na'vi, the inhabitants of a far-off moon. He eventually turns against the human invaders, becoming the leader of the Na'vi in their fight to preserve their way of life. Some people are pissed off because the human is Sam Worthington, and not someone like Will Smith.

Personally, I'd never call Avatar racist. Its narrative structure is conventional and its characters are a mix of archetypes and stereotypes – as to be expected in a superproduction that needs to reach the widest possible audience – but having a white guy lead a group of “people of color” doesn't necessarily make a movie or a filmmaker “racist.” What takes place in Avatar is a common dramatic device that has been in use since the first narrative movies were being cranked out: Oppressor switches sides to help the Oppressed, especially if among them is a good-looking female.

The problem is that, apart from Smith and Denzel Washington, you don't see many “people of color” as leaders in Hollywood movies. Especially as leaders of white people. Generally, it's the other way around, whether it's in Pocahontas or Lawrence of Arabia. And that's why Avatar has been attacked in some quarters for its “racist” depiction of a race/culture war.

“It's really upsetting in many ways,” actress Robinne Lee (of Jamaican-Chinese ancestry) told The Associated Press. “It would be nice if we could save ourselves.”

Avatar, adds black author and film professor Donald Bogle (who has refrained from labeling the fantasy adventure/sci-fier “racist”), “is a film with still a certain kind of distortion. It's a movie that hasn't yet freed itself of old Hollywood traditions, old formulas.”

That's absolutely true. But why then stop at ethnic issues? Why not call Avatar sexist? How many women are leaders of men in movies? Almost invariably, guys are the ones saving women right and left. (They're also the ones who often end up very dead at the end, so women can go on living free.) Also, how many gays or lesbians are up there on screen leading heterosexuals? For that matter, how many avowed Muslims or Buddhists have you seen in movies helping Euro-Christians to fulfill their destinies?

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, James Cameron stated that Avatar “asks us to open our eyes and truly see others, respecting them even though they are different, in the hope that we may find a way to prevent conflict and live more harmoniously on this world. I hardly think that is a racist message.”

And in all fairness, I believe that if Will Smith (who fought to save the world in I Am Legend) had been available for Sam Worthington's salary, James Cameron would have used him to guarantee solid box office returns for the expensive sci-fi epic.

So, would Avatar have been a better movie had its hero been played by, say, a Tamil actor, or had it featured a Muslim Indonesian lesbian heroine?

Photos: Mark Fellman (top); WETA (bottom) / 20th Century Fox

Jan. 12

Sam Worthington, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Joel David Moore in Avatar
Sam Worthington, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Joel David Moore in Avatar (Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox)

Right-wingers criticize it for its anti-militaristic and anti-imperialism stance. The politically correct accuse it of being racist. Anti-smokers cry foul because of a chain-smoking character. And now comes the Vatican media accusing it of promoting paganism and nature worship. Really, you can't please everyone, but this?

In addition to referring to Avatar as “bland” and “sappy,” L'Osservatore Romano complained in its review that James Cameron's sci-fier “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature,” while Vatican Radio pointed out that the film “cleverly winks at all those pseudo-doctrines that turn ecology into the religion of the millennium,” adding that “nature is no longer a creation to defend, but a divinity to worship.”

Pope Benedict XVI, who just yesterday called gay marriage an attack on “creation and the natural order” (Portugal has become the latest country to approve the legalization of gay marriages; a gay couple got married in Argentina last week), has already proclaimed against the dangers of turning nature into a “new divinity.” The pope also denounced the “supposedly egalitarian vision” that human beings and other living creatures should be placed on the same plane of existence, adding that such a worldview would “open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man's salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.”

Last year, the Vatican lambasted Angels & Demons and a couple of years earlier it lashed out against The Da Vinci Code. Both films were based on Dan Brown's novels; both were directed by Ron Howard and starred Tom Hanks; and both went on to become worldwide blockbusters.

Avatar opens Friday in Italy. Expect huge grosses.

Quotes: Associated Press

Jan. 21

Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington in Avatar

Chinese government officials have denied reports that the State is in any way responsible for pulling Avatar out of hundreds of theaters showing the 2D version of James Cameron's sci-fi epic starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver. A deputy director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has asserted that the film was being dropped by the exhibitors themselves because their theaters were mostly empty. Giving at least some credence to the official's remarks, Clifford Coonan reports in the Irish Times that lines could be seen outside the Shenzhen theater showing Avatar in 3D, but not at the 2D screenings.

Avatar has earned approximately $75 million in its first two weeks in China, becoming that country's biggest box office hit to date. (I'm not sure whether or not that translates as the largest number of tickets sold ever.) On Friday, Jan. 22, it'll be replaced by a state-sponsored biopic of Confucius, directed by Hu Mei and starring Chow Yun-fat.

Numerous reports (including one on this site, see below) stated that concerned members of the Chinese government had imposed a partial ban on Avatar for fear that it might cause social unrest. Since Cameron's film deals with people being forced out of their territory, millions of Chinese could relate to the Na'vi's plight, as ruthless developers, abetted by corrupt government officials, have the nasty habit of grabbing other people's lands.

Some reports also claimed that China had only a few 3D movie houses, which would make it “safe” for Avatar to be screened at those. Coonan counters that argument by stating that out of China's 4,700 screens, about 800 of those are 3D. And it's at these that nearly two-thirds of the film's box office has been generated.

Financial reasons unrelated to Avatar's 2D performance may have been a consideration as well. Coonan adds in his piece that China often “will clear the screens of foreign fare in the run-up to holidays … to boost local movies.” The Chinese New Year takes place next month.

Now, it's unclear whether that truly applies in the case of Avatar, which was supposed to run until late Feb. After all, it's hardly as if the Chinese New Year will be creeping in unannounced. Unless the Confucius biopic became available sooner than expected, there would have been no reason for Chinese officials to book Avatar well into February.

Other sources: Times of India, Hollywood.com

Photo: Avatar (Mark Fellman / 20th Century Fox)

Previous post

Sam Worthington, Laz Alonso in Avatar (WETA / 20th Century Fox)

Government paranoia strikes again. The latest such instance, according to reports, comes from China.

James Cameron's Avatar has been a worldwide blockbuster. It's now the #3 movie at the North American box office (not accounting for inflation or 3D/IMAX surcharges) and #2 worldwide (not accounting for higher ticket prices and so on). The film was apparently doing quite well in China since its opening on Jan. 4; so well, in fact, that it became that country's biggest box office hit ever. Not surprisingly, some Chinese censor has decided that the science-fiction adventure tale set on a far off moon could become a threat to 21st-century China's stability.

According to a The Guardian article, Avatar 2D screenings will cease on Jan. 23 – instead of Feb. 28, as initially scheduled. Since China doesn't have many 3D/IMAX screens, the film will be allowed to continue playing only in that format.

Replacing the Golden Globe winner will be a biopic on the life of Confucius, directed by Hu Mei and starring Chow Yun-fat. The reason for the withdrawal remains murky, though rumors have it that the censors believe that the plight of the Na'vi is too close for comfort to what's going on with all those Chinese being evicted from their homes thanks to greedy property developers. Certainly not helping matters is that Avatar's $73.2 million gross has made it – and other major Hollywood productions – a “threat” to homemade movies.

Avatar has been met with controversy elsewhere as well. The film has been condemned as anti-American and anti-military by right-wingers; as racist by those who complain that Sam Worthington is white, not black (or perhaps some other nonwhite ethnicity); and as paganistic, nature-worshipping propaganda by the Vatican media.

Some have also complained that the film is overrated, tedious, and superficial. The Chinese government clearly disagrees. And now Avatar fans will be complaining that China has robbed their film of the chance to become the biggest worldwide blockbuster ever. Unless, of course, China or no China, Avatar ends up beating the Titanic record anyhow.

As a matter of fact, Vatican or no Vatican, Avatar had a $14.5 million debut in Italy, supposedly a record for that country.


         
If you liked the article 'Avatar': Movie Racist & Paganistic? & China Ban, please recommend it to your friends and/or follow Alt Film Guide on social media. See share/follow buttons above.
'Avatar': Movie Racist & Paganistic? & China Ban © 2004–2017 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about ''Avatar': Movie Racist & Paganistic? & China Ban'

UPDATED COMMENTING RULES: Our articles and/or other people's comments infuriate you?

Well, here's the good news: It's perfectly okay to disagree with our own and/or other commenters' views and opinions.

But ... *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative.

In other words: Add something reasonable & coherent to the discussion.

Spammy, abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), trollish/inflammatory, and/or just plain demented comments will be zapped and offenders may be banned.

Also, bear in mind that links found in comments will generally be deleted.

Most recent comments listed on top.

37 Comments to 'Avatar': Movie Racist & Paganistic? & China Ban

  1. Brad

    also let's not forget that hollywood never really show's what indians really are only what sliver of culture that was stolen from us by whites for the sake of wild west romance just like wild bills indian show. we have to give up our traditional ways of life unless it's for your intertainment.

  2. Brad

    You know i'm actually a mvskoke creek indian and here's an idians take on the movie. Most racist shit i've ever hear, oh wait what about pathfinder what about dance's with wolves. if you want to see all of the great things that the benevolent white's did for us why don't you visit oklahoma instead of the theater and see what's really hood.

  3. Jay

    Avatar was boringly predictable and extremely racist. Almost all the bad people are white. The token Indian and Chinese characters are scientists, so they are not really bad. The Na'vi culture looks Native American, but their names, rituals and accents are heavily African.

    The 3-D gimmick wore off about ten minutes into the movie and I never noticed it was 3-D after that. For the rest of the movie, it was a predictable, roll-the-eyes, preachfest with Hollywood using the latest high-tech magic to preach to us that a simple technology-free life is better than our modern existence.

  4. Jason

    I am a devoted Christian and saw parts of this movie while at my parents' house yesterday for Mother's Day. I have to say, I don't understand the controversy over the film. I didn't see any political or religious tones in the film. The blue aliens did have their spiritual rituals, which reminded me of Native Americans. The “bad guys” were some greedy political big wigs and a greedy general. I've seen plenty of movies portraying these types of characters. For all my brothers and sisters in Christ: Avatar is just a movie, not doctrine. If you are swayed by the things portrayed in the movie, I would submit there's some serious prayer needed on your part. To non-believers: I do apologize if any of y'all feel attacked by Christians for your beliefs. Our hope and prayer is that yall would come to Christ, so we can all be in our Father's House together in Heaven one day. We care for y'alls eternal destination and we don't want it to be in hell. Jesus Christ came to save all, and since He has ascended, Christians have been given the task of sharing the Good News of Christ. If y'all haven't done so(or ever done so), I will encourage yall grab a Bible, ask God to open your heart and eyes, read starting in John, and prepare for your life to change! - in Christ, Jason

  5. Minda

    I'm surprised the pope would have something negative to say about such a beautiful movie. Why are some Catholics so threatened by the Life Force? Why are so many Christians hateful of other religious beliefs? It's funny to me, when you say “love thy neighbor” and then if your neighbor doesn't believe in heaven, hell, or that man was “created in God's image” it's ok to openly speak out against your neighbor and condemn them for their beliefs. Don't Christians believe that only “God” can pass judgment? If that's true then why do so many Christians pass judgment on others? I'm so glad to finally have a movie that reflects my spiritual beliefs. I only wish Christians would show me and others like me respect and stop trying to condemn me for not believing in what they believe. It seems to me that there is a lot of evil and sickness that goes on within the Catholic and Christian churches as a result of their leaders condemning others and setting that type of example.

  6. Kurt Wolfgold

    Avatar is the best picture to portrait what the white people has been done to screwed other people in the world for century.

  7. IKE

    James Cameron's AVATAR reminds us of the 18 million Native Americans from the Cherokee, Cheyenne, Choctaw, Comanche, Iroquois, and Muscogee tribes in America. They were in great miseries and poverty under the dictatorship of their colonial leaders. Remember how they were removed from their homelands to accommodate their colonial masters. Today,there are an estimated 2 million Native Americans, and they are the most impoverished of all ethnic groups. According to the latest Census.

    AVATAR: IS THEIR LEGACY . . .SOMEHOW!
    Well done
    hail to thee, noble James!

  8. Page Larkin/SF

    James Cameron is a genius - on many levels. Word on the street is that he flew to Rome and worked out a great deal re: the “Papal/Pagan pox on your movie campaign”. Win Win for the coffers of Rome and revenues for Avatar.
    Catholics flocked to Avatar and ticket sales soared
    and we loved the movie.
    Amen.

  9. Mitu Sengupta over at ryeberg.com weighs up the various racism charges and decides in the end that they stick. Your point is well taken, but the popularity of the film, and the fact it fits into a long established Hollywood tradition of White Messiah films make it subject to so much analysis of its politics. Check it out:

    http://ryeberg.com/curated-videos/avatar-race-relations-light-years-from-earth/

  10. Tony C

    It's such a nice looking film, and was so much fun. I have a hard time wondering how someone can be so angry they call this film racist.

    Frankly, I think there is a chance it was an agent provacateur from some corporation, that didn't like the film's anti-corporate message.

    Instead of talking opening up a dialogue about the damages of strip mining and mountain top removal we discussed the race card. Instead of discussing huge corporate aggressions into Africa & the Middle East, we talked about race. Instead of discussing the Supreme Court decision to up cap corporations to spend as much as they want on campaign contributions, we discussed race. Wow!

    Way to support liberty & justice for all, by playing that race card.

    Sad thing is, now with all the campaign contributions from the big corps on the way, you can forget ever having a candidate who is by the people for the people. It will be, by the Unobtainium, for the Unobtainium.

    THAT was the message of the film. Not some whacked idea about a white savior.

    Start paying attention to the big picture there race card. Yes there are still some idiots who are racist, but look around! We are light years away from the bullshit that was heaped upon Americans because of color. Light years!

    Racist idiots are the exception today, not the rule. Anyone who speaks ill of someone based on their race, I tell them not offend me by assuming I'm a bigot also. I haven't had to say that to someone in over 20 years. People have evolved away from that crap.

  11. Mike

    Why not call Avatar homophobic too? I didn't see any gay leaders!

    Ridiculous. The reason people think it's such a big deal is because they're making a big deal out of it.

  12. Linda

    I worked for HALLIBURTON in Iraq, and honestly, I saw more politics in the movie, than religion overtones, and I'm a pagan! I don't know a single pagan who WORSHIPS anything. If you believe that we are all inter-connected, then why would you worship anything? You accept it, nurture it, heal it, and allow it to die and be reabsored for the good of all. So what is the Pope afraid of? Losing POWER. Halliburton/Pope. . . .hmmmm I see the similarity.

  13. OZ

    For the love of GOD!!!!!!!! It's a movie!! A great movie at that and once again some jackass has to play the race card!! This nonsense gets frickin old and gets old quick and also was OLD a long damn time ago!! I have Native American blood in me as well as African american blood in my family and I am so tired of the race card being play from every angle on damn near everything that HAPPENS or is an ISSUE with whoever feels like everything offends them. I don't expect every Anglo-American to apologize for Slavery to every African-American they see and I sure as hell don't expect James Cameron to apologize for Avatar. Anyone who thinks this is racist even in the most minuscule way obviously has the IQ of a grapefruit. We have more important things in life to worry about, how are we going to pull this country together if everything has to be ran over with a fine tooth comb so we don't RACIALLY upset ANYONE? Get over it and let's start fixing the here and now to try and save it from the “CHANGE” that is SO obviously NOT working!!! I know this will piss someone off and you know what? I don't care!!! Bring on the whiny little haters!!!

  14. Julian

    Another point: anti-racist fanatics see racism everywhere. If a black had been the hero, then they would complain about why they used a black actor to represent a traitor to his race? why didnt they use a white to represent a traitor?

  15. Heather J

    I am far from religious, in fact some of my friends have called me the atheist of the group. But if a movie is made weather it be about Christian's or Pagen's or in-between…Who cares? I mean come on. If a movie was made and the Pagen's thought it was to “Pro-church” they wouldn't go on about it! This is stupid. The Da Vinci code and Angles and Demons both happen to be great movies and I hear this one is to but why can't the Pope just understand that no matter how hard he tries he will never be able to stop Pagen beliefs, because to me that is what it looks like he's trying to do. I don't have a religion because I do not believe in a higher power but that we make our own choices. I hope I have not offended any one because that was not my intention. Has any Catholic here seen any of the three movies mentioned and found them offensive? Angels and Demons to me was a great movie to me because of the Science, not the Anti-religion. Another book that the Vatican would not like is the His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I am hoping to see Avatar and if there are pagen views I will be sure to inform you as to my views.

    Heather

  16. Tony C

    Hey Jill B,

    I think it was 300 million. Hmm, well, you have to think that with all this CG plus Will Smith, it would have been off the chain popular. So I have to disagree that money wasn't a factor. How much does Will Smith cost? 30-40 million? Hollywood can still come up with a blockbuster now and again, but they are loosing money and are a sinking ship. Guys like

    Robert Rodriguez have consistently made digital shoots for much smaller amounts that have done well in the box office. This is just another point to drive home the idea that they could have dumped more money into the whole thing.

    Well, while the general theme and story arc were predictable, I was enamored with the plants and the bio-sphere that had a conciousness. Even better that they could access the network. And the nerve ending interface with the animals was nice too. So for me, the differences were in the details. And I suppose,I found those differences to be a nod to spiritual beliefs. I mean, they came right out and said, “everything is connected”. And while in this filk it was from the roots of the plants, if you read any quantum physics stuff, the leading scientists are saying we are all connected on a sub-atomic level.

    But to all the people who say the film is predictable I ask, if they really predicted that the animals would attack the Marines. I sure didn't see that coming. I expected a bunch of new tribes to show up. But the animals attacking the thugs of a big corporation was nice!

    And whether or no you believe in Global Warming, no one can deny that corporations have a long history of pollution. So to see the animals attack like that was an interesting visual metaphor.

    If you don't like the film, and thought it was too CG heavy, thats fine. That view is way too cynical for me, but thats why theaters come in groups of 4, 6, 8, and up.

    But this discussion was about racism in the film. Not about how predictable you thought it was or how cool I thought the film was.

    So the point I was trying to make with the Denzel & Will Smith thing was that I think the people crying racist about this film wouldn't have a beef if either of the two were the stars.

    Funny too, that Denzel is staring in Book of Eli, which from the previews looks like he's a savior of some kind. Cool! But only a small mind will make divisions on the color of that savior.

    Denzel and Will Smith the kinds of actors that if they are in a film I will generally want to see it because of their performance. Likewise with a lot of other actors I like.

    I saw Sam Worthington is a flik called Rogue. It's a giant Croc that attacks people on a tour. He was really good in it, so I can see why Cameron chose him. And if he got him for cheap, well thats awesome.

  17. Just one point here, Tony C

    “If Cameron could have got Will Smith or Denzel Washington to come on board Avatar for the same price he got Sam Worthington”

    You think he didn't cast a well-known actor because of the money? Money was no object here. I think he cast a white actor who was relatively unknown because he cared more about the CGI than actors, or script or anything else. I don't think it is a racist film just a stereotypical, predictable story; and that is my problem. You spend $400 million and that is all you can come up with for a story?

  18. Jimbo

    If we could re-write history and play Will Smith or Denzel Washington as the lead role, can we call that racist too?

    If the answer is no, then you are racist.

  19. Cameron

    Graham,

    This needs not turn into a religion bash of any sorts. And if they really have become irrelevant how come so many people call themselves Christians? Further more your assertion sums up our arguments and irrational and pointless. Does the Catholic Church have a point in what it said absolutely. But the conclusion they drew from the movie I feel is incorrect or taken to much on face value. If the Church, spirituality didn't matter nobody would posted anything on this blog. I guess what I am really asking is what exactly do you really mean?

    Cam

  20. Graham Weir

    Yet another example of why the Catholic Church ( as well as others) have become more or less irrelevant to the majority of the population. The philosophy that ideologies can be maintained forever is well outdated and has been discarded by many who prefer to think for themselves rather than be told by a bunch of old fellas in frocks..

  21. Shelly

    Hmmm, from a Heathen and historical standpoint, looks like yet another knee-jerk reaction on the church's part when presented with a threat to their power.
    -“The pope…proclaimed against the dangers of
    turning nature into a 'new divinity.'”-
    First off, Nature was worshiped thousands of years before the church was even thought of. Secondly, it is now known that the early church converted thousands by absorbing the old pagan beliefs of the country-folk over the centuries. In closing, returning to our Ancestral Folkway is a good thing, not something to be feared and admonished. We must find our own way to the Gods and Ancestors and walk tall and proud, not live on our knees to be shepherded like the other sheep.

  22. Miriam

    Thank you for your view Cameron… I am pagan and I saw pagan symbolism and correlation. You saw your belief and a correlation there. It would be great if everyone can look at someone elses religion and actually “see” that there is more than one way to look at something, that there is not one path and everyone else is wrong. And yes Citana - we should all work together for the good of our planet which would be for the good of us humans.

  23. Burtan Lafleur

    I can understand the points of view from Stephanie and Citana. However, if the Pagan community had raised objections about “Passion of the Christ” or said anything derogatory about it, the Christian community would be up in arms against us.

  24. Stephanie

    I grew up Roman Catholic but converted to Paganism in college.

    The Vatican is the guide for millions of Roman Catholics and I think they should take a stand on things in the popular media, I also think they should clean house first and truly become the model for Christianity they claim to be.

    To paraphrase the old saying, Father, heal thyself. Once you do, you'll become relevant in the modern world and you won't lose believers at such an alarming rate.

    While I understand the points of views for and against the movie, I think everyone missed the real point: it's a MOVIE and as such is only entertainment.

  25. Citana

    I absolutely fell in love with this movie, and I hope people take away from it more than the good visual effects, or the religious controversy, but to see the big picture, that destruction of a culture in favor of such a short-sighted goal as profit is real, is out there, and real people are affected by it. The imperialism shown is a mirror-like reflection of what is happening still, every day around the world, including in the United States.
    On a side note, I too am Pagan, and I do not expect an apology from the Pope (for several reasons, 1.it is un-Pope-like, 2.he would get nothing from it, 3.would a Pagan apologize for criticizing a blockbuster based on the rapture? etc.), and I think that an ecological seed planted in the public's psyche has been made over the last several years already (with the Green movement and all), and that this is far short of creating a new promotion of a Neo-Pagan way for the new millenium (though it may be healthier than the all-out destruction of peoples and environment we have seen over the last several hundred years).
    All in all, I agree with Cameron above, and that this film can be used by any and all religions as a promotion of mutual respect and brotherhood among humans together as a species. We are all in this thing together, whether we like it or not. We may as well make the best of it and enjoy each other.

  26. Cameron

    I happen to be a very devout Catholic and was a little disappointed when I read the review by the Vatican. I feel that this movie taken does nothing but support exactly what the Church is teaching and that of supporting religion itself. For example take Jake Sully's character. He became one of the Navi and saved them. Jesus Christ became human to save all humans from death. In my opinion a direct correlations. Ewya is a direct correlation to God the Father. The voices of the ancestors they can listen to through Ewya is the Communion of Saints. I feel like the Vatican is taking the film too literally on face value. I think the Vatican missed a great opportunity to use this as a tool in a sense. I'm not saying that James Cameron intended this interpretation or that of neo-paganism that the Vatican describes but this film how so much theological reflection in it no matter what your faith background. It not telling us to worship nature but more so protect and sacrifice our lives for what we truly care about. I am interested in what you all think about what I have said.

  27. kenneth

    The Vatican clearly fears its days are numbered. It feels threatened by a race of giant smurf-like digitally produced aliens!

  28. Burtan Lafleur

    I demand an apology from the Vatican on it's statements. I am a Pagan, and I do worship nature. I have every right to my beliefs, and NO organization, no matter how large or how many followers has the right to dictate if my religious basis should be allowed to be viewed in public media. I have considered launching a formal protest and suing for damages, however, a public apology from the Vatican to the Pagan community will suffice.

  29. Cory M

    The Vatican would rather us go back to the good old greco-roman child orgy days

    The theory that we are all connected by a singular consciousness is not as much of a threat as sexual deprived priest experimenting with our children(fact)…

  30. Tony C

    Some claim that this is another “White Messiah” movie and that the natives couldn't even fly their own big dragon. Well, if you paid attention to the movie instead of allowed yourself to be embroiled in your own fear based attitude that labels everything as racist, then you would have heard that the big dragon had been ridden twice before, during troubled times.

    So who rode the big red dragon then? Did a white guy fly from earth to pilot their big red dragon on the previous occasions? No, it was a Navi champion who flew it.

    Also, this is an EARTHLING, who becomes a Navi through a technology, called Avatar, then, shucks his broken body and is reborn into the one of the Navi. So what, is our hero now a wannabe?

    Certainly there are a load of stereo-types in this film but racist is not one of them.

    But the stereo-types in a movie that cost $300 million are essential so it can reach the greatest audience. And ultimately, get the message out of run away corporatism.

    Corporations chewing up the top of mountains, (as in the opening scene when the shuttle flies right over a MTR strip mine), is not science fiction, it is happening right now in the USA in the Appelacians at an alarming rate. It is forever destroying an eco system, that will never exist again anywhere once it is gone.

    But to cry racism in a parable that draws attention to the big machine of corporate greed is extremely reactionary and paranoid. But I'll go you one further, I think calling this film racist is a PR campaign against the enviromentalism. Makes me wonder if the people are crying racist here aren't getting paid to cause a stir to draw attention away from the intended theme.

    I mean c'mon…the shuttle flies in over a mountain top removal mine, and then you see a big dump truck with arrows in it. The nature people are fighting back. And then the hero becomes one of them! How much more plain could the message in this film be that is a kick in the shins of the big corporations.

    If you actually take the racist point of view, then go ahead an call the film sexist as well. Why wasn't the hero a woman? Why was the crippled Marine a woman? I was in the Marines…there were women in the Marines…so why not?

    And why don't the disabled people bitch that the films hero could only accomplish something when he became a creature with working legs?

    If Cameron could have got Will Smith or Denzel Washington to come on board Avatar for the same price he got Sam Worthington, would this conversation exist No. The film cost a lot to make. And I'm sure the audition process included lot of unknown actors. They chose Sam Worthington because he is very good. They didn't choose him because of his color. And I bet if you get the script there is no mention of the race of the crippled ex-Marine.

    The plot of Avatar is device driven and has a lot of Hollywood standards, but calling this film racist is the kind of comment that keeps racism alive. The bent view of a few who find racism in practically everything is a crutch some give to themselves psychologically.

    I know if I thought in these terms, I wouldn't have enjoyed any of the Blade movies, I Am Legend, or Return of the Jedi. All films had black characters that saved a lot of white people. Big deal. (In Blade…the casting call did call for a black actor, since the comic book had a black hero. And thank God the character was called Blade. I remember back when if a super hero was Chocolate, he had to have the word “black” in his name somewhere. Black Lightning, Black Panther, etc… Jeeze! Thank God for Mosaic!)

    If you start loving who you are, and loving others…it's funny how the world will open for you like a blossom, and color seems not to matter. I'm white and I live in a chocolate neighborhood and people here like me because I'm decent to them. And I know they know when I speak to them, I see a human being, not a “black” person. (and actually, I've never seen a wholly black or white person…kind of silly adjectives really. I'm italian & german decent…so I'm kind of dark with a really light butt! LOL)

  31. Condescending is the word I would use. These people on a far off planet cannot take care of themselves. They need a human, a man, a white man to save them from the other evil humans. They can't even fly their own big dragon themselves. Avatar is just another in a long line of movies that use the White Messiah to save a group of noble savages. See David Brooks article in NY Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/08/opinion/08brooks.html?scp=1&sq=white%20messiah&st=cse

  32. George

    Avatar in itself is not racist. But, the playing field has to be level. When whites make movies about how the Chinese are rescuing America (mostly whites) from the economic mess by buying up treasuries or Japanese rescuing the white unemployed in small town America by opening up auto manufacturing plant, perhaps the playing field would be level.

  33. skip

    lets be honest with eachother here, is james cameron's creation really racist or is it the people calling it racist that are really the racist ones themselves? nit-picking every little happen stance in life and finding ways to deam it racist is what's keeping racism alive. maybe we can just go to the theater and enjoy a well made movie that opens your mind and imagination instead of finding ways that it offends you. trying to connect these beings with african americans is just rediculous to me, you would think the same would apply to the afformentioned. its pretty funny how if the “white hero” was in fact black, then there wouldn't even be a blog here. they seem to be keeping their own racism alive which is also pretty sad and annoying. i ask again, who is really guilty of being racist here? i, for one, dont think its james cameron.

  34. March

    If anything, some people need to get their racial stereotypes in order and stop demonstrating a blind racial ignorance, while labeling everything else racist.

    The racial equivalent in Avatar would be Native Americans, or Australian aboriginals, chased off their land for valuables, etc. not African Americans.

    The whole plot in that respect was simply “Cowboys vs. Indians” not the slave trade or segregation or whatever that would be race-related to African Americans.

    Anyone who watched the movie and didn't catch that and just went “blue people must equal black people”, was engaging in a misplaced racial stereotyping of their own.

  35. Max

    C'mon people, just watch the damn movie and shut up already. OMG….is this where we are as a society now? So I guess that in Star Wars, blacks can bitch that Darth Vader was killed because he was black right? His voice was of James Earl Jones, he's black! Or..or how about Daffy Duck was a crazy, loony character because he was black!! Or how about this one Mexicans. Pluto, whose a brown dog, lived outside, and couldn't talk, but Goofy lived indoors, had a job, talked, drove a car, and he was black!!! Mickey is black. Donald is the only freakin white character!!! Sounds stupid right? Look, Will Smith saves the world in Men in Black,I Robot, I Am Legend, and in Hancock. Denzel is the hero in Book of Eli. This country is becoming so damn radical and ignorant. Moral values are gone, secularism is rising. Get a life. I've found that the ones who bitch of racism are the more times than not, racist themselves. It takes one to know one I guess.

  36. Zaack

    Say waaaa? Some people get pissed off at ANY and EVERYTHING.

    What kind of dunce calls Avatar racist because Will Smith or some other black actor isn't in the lead role? What has that even got to do with anything?

    Seriously, only someone who themselves has a warped and racist mind could even come up with something so stupid; that because the characters are 'blue' a white actor leading them is somehow 'racist'. Who but someone obsessed with race, and that can't just sit back and enjoy literally ANYTHING without seeing it through the prism of a warped, race-based mindset would even comes up with something that stupid?

    It's simply mind-boggling sometimes.

    I guess the real signs of actual, real-world 'racism' coming to an end will really be people having to pull their hair out to find examples of it… in a SCI-FI FANTASY movie!

    I mean really, imagine a time when REAL racism meant people were being lynched and truly horrible things, and that someone would actually have the time to be worried about the aliens in some Buck Rodgers movie being an example of 'racism' to get bent out of shape about!

    We've truly come a LOOOOOOOOOONNNG way!

  37. Amanda

    Finally an AVATAR review I can respect!!!
    I, personally was shocked to start hearing these racial accusations. They only distort and take attention away from the true message of the film that James Cameron gave to the AP. A message I believe has many facets.

    And I find the mention of the possibility of sexist overtones laughable. Wasn't it Neytiri who was brave & wise enough to heed the “sign” about him? And wasn't it her who taught him how to survive/thrive in that hostile environment? And wasn't it her who saved Jake's life in the end? Seems like we have a female heroine to me.

    And from a different perspective… wasn't it the Navi who saved Jake? Not the other way around. He just reminded them of their own strengths. And ultimately… it was the Planet Pandora who sent reinforcements that really turned the tide of the battle! The planet had consciousness as well. What race can you call a planet who takes care of itself?

    I think everyone would do well to throw away ALL their own ingrained stereotypes and look at this movie from a wider perspective….

    My definition of an “evolved” species is one that acknowledges interconnectedness and lives in harmony with their environment, so as to never run out of their natural resources. Are the Navi primitive? Or are they evolved… beyond our understanding?

    And I believe the thought of a planet that takes care of itself is an idea that is much to threatening for most people to acknowledge or see as a true possibility.

    I see many messages in this movie…. many that I, personally, will be chewing on for a long time. I just hope others who want to criticize it will look in the mirror first and then see if they are wearing their blinders before opening their mouths!!!