And a White Man Shall Lead Them

Re-watching bits of Avatar now has me seeing the flaws I missed when I was glamored by all the movie magic the first time I saw it in the theater.

First of all, it’s a beautiful film, and a monument to what cinema can achieve if the filmmaker dares to dream and has an unlimited budget. Avatar, if nothing else, is just a behemoth of showy–OMG! Look what we did!–neatness, and I appreciate it for that. But it’s also flawed, really, really flawed. The dialogue is clunky and lacks nuance. Every character is sort of a cartoon. And I tend to lose interest in the story when it becomes what is basically a war picture. I think that the film would have been much more interesting had it been about the discovery of Pandora and its landscape and inhabitants rather than moustache-twirling asshole Earthers vs. saintly (but savage!) natives. Maybe it’s just me. Space travel and the potential of finding alien life somewhere in the universe is something of an obsession for me, so there’s bias here. But I think focusing more on that sort of story, the story of mind-blowing, mind-expanding, history-changing discovery would have made the movie much more an exercise in beauty and art instead of what is basically a more attractive and interesting Transformers. (Um, I guess we’re Decepticons in this scenario…I dunno. Don’t overthink this, just go with me.)

I meant for this to be a quicky rumination on why I’m reevaluating Avatar now, so I’ll get to the point. I really, really, really hate the “White Guy Saves Everybody Because Everyone Else Is Too Dumb/Wimpy/Savage” meme in movies. It’s what almost ruined Sin City for me, though the middle–and offending– chunk is also its most forgettable. (Man those whores were tough, but–in the end–the White Dude saved them. ‘Scuse me while I puke up some internal organs. Also I’d like to fuck you in the ass with a rusty chainsaw, Frank Miller.)

I’m good at things like barely disguising my British accent and tongueing Rosario Dawson!

The sad part is, I doubt that was James Cameron’s intention. I don’t think he was intending to be condescending in his treatment of the native people. But he was.

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54 thoughts on “And a White Man Shall Lead Them

  1. Remember the misogyny on Pharyngula the other day? Yeah. This Avatar thing is just another example of white men thinking they're being "liberal" when they cast themselves as Savior of the Other. Not even close, you fucking social morons, and —Hell no! NO cigar!(you can quit congratulating yourselves anytime now). That's called "A Messiah Complex". You don't get points for elevating yourself to a Christ-like status.Open-minded would be having a mixed-race dike save the planet. O.K.? We don't assuage our white, patriarchal, colonial guilt by having demi-god status compared to the innocent nature of another race, for the benefit of those child-like creatures. That's just flattering yourself (a little morethan usual (cause you're just so fucking good at it (amirite?!(and it's your default setting, anyway, so…)))). I hated it when I saw it in the theater that Christmas. I didn't even care that much for the CGI. More than seeming miraculous, it just seemed like someone got enough money together to pay a lot of digital artists to do what they've been doing for quite a while now. Cameron (don't get me wrong—I LOVE a LOT of his movies (though, I think Ridley Scott is a better director for action and having much fresher scripts)— Cameron was the money magnet here. As I watched it in the theater, I was mostly cataloguing all the scenes that I figured would seem pointless and boring once this level of CGI became commonplace.

  2. But more importantly, I think I could be good at tonguing Rosario Dawson, too. I deserve a shot, anyways. Get in line. zrm is all about redistributing Rosario DawsonThat is hilarious. But also very socialesbionic.

  3. (Would work much better if I could use strikethrough on the word "candle.")In a capitalist society, you EARN that strikethrough. You can't just sit around, occupying threads and expecting strikethroughs and other tags to be given to you, STALIN.

  4. Sorry thundra. I do drop by, but I usually dunno wot to say. As you can probably tell by photographical skillz, I'm kinda clueless about teh visual arts. I do appreciate that you've got Firsties! on like half my posts so I do feel kinda crummy aboot it.Tells you what, Imma turn over a new LEAFS SUCK and try to stink up teh bloggerhood's threads some moar – starting now.

  5. I had a huge panic-attack/meltdown earlier today, so forgive my chattiness tonight. On the menu for deener:Tenderloin steaks I've marinated in my amazing, super-seekrit (but not really) marinadeSage-infused smashed potatoesRoasted roma tomatoes and elephant garlic served on a bed of baby spinachI'm awesome.

  6. I do, thanks. I think I speak for everyone when I say I was kinda wondering where the hell you were. I don't want to be super-nosy, but I hope your lack of access is not for any incredibly bad reason.

  7. I always try to be the first comment at thudner's. Except when I can't think of anything clever.Has that situation ever arisen?It's Dances With Wolves with blue people.A lot of Ursula Le Guin readers (myself included) were grumpy back in the day about the lack of recognition for "The Word for World is Forest".

  8. Avatar, if nothing else, is just a behemoth of showy–OMG! Look what we did!–neatness, and I appreciate it for that.I didn't see it, but I've heard it was basically an extended demo for next gen CGI wizardry.It's what almost ruined Sin City for meSchultz City was so much better.

  9. I loved Avatar the first time I saw it. We went back for seconds and, like you, was not as impressed. I noticed big flaws and it just seemed strange to me. Loved your video! :P((Hugs))Laura

  10. I see your blooger-roll doesn't know there is a newer post at Riddled, either.I reckon it will over compensate and start putting up posts we haven't written yet.Capcha says VS is a pleverto. Like, whatevah!

  11. I see your blooger-roll doesn't know there is a newer post at Riddled, either.How much would it annoy you if I updated some old post from months ago so it showed up as the newest one instead? AFAF.

  12. Yeah, between the crip drag, nativeface (body???), Magical White Dude, and terrible writing in general, I just could not get into that movie. It was purty, though.VS–Thanks. I'm okay. Battling some mental health shit and I need a job, but I don't have to deal with assholes every day and I have food and a place to live, so things could be worse. It'd be better if one of my neighbors would let me steal wifi from them, though.

  13. I love the fact that James Cameron started an Avatar-based enviro-charity. I saw it in action on the National Mall during Earth Day. Models in skintight blue costumes and makeup on stilts. I saw one on break drinking bottled water. The EPA was providing the bottled water in the EPA tents.

  14. T&U, I'm glad you're at least making it through. I've been through some tough things re: my mental health and am currently dealing with some stuff…so believe me, I sympathize. I wish you peace and free Wifi.

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