I’m SOoooooOOoo glad Avatar did NOT win best picture at this year’s Oscar’s.
I couldn’t stand Avatar. In the words of Men on Film: “Hated it.” I was (and still am) mad that we splurged to see it at a high-end lux level cinema, paying $50 for the privilege (not to take away from the comfy chairs, 21 and over policy, and direct-to-your-chair waitstaff service that I adored). I’m mad that my ticket counted towards its revenue, making it the top grossing film of ALL TIME. Because:
- It lacked a creative plot line. There are SO MANY artists in the world who would love to have money to produce their artistic visions. This film felt like a regurgitation of every Dances with Wolves- Pocahontas plot line methodology. The only plot twist was that the natives won in the end. Whoo hoo. But you know this is just a set up for the inevitable Avatar 2. With the amount of resources and talent James Cameron has access to he could show some creativity instead of being formulaic. 3D glasses do not an art film make.
- It panders to, but doesn’t address, white guilt. We get it. The rainforests are being torn down, animals are recklessly killed, brown and black people are often oppressed by the majority, and people prefer materialism over spirituality. Problem is, this film uplifts rather than flips stereotypes. It’s promoting sympathy and pity when it could have promoted empathy. Now everyone’s going to run out and pretend to have a Burning Man moment in their backyard and think they’ve changed the world and themselves.
- Indigenous people don’t read, they understand everything by nature-based osmosis? Guess those Cherokee, Maya, and Egyptian written languages were flukes…
- It portrays all Marines as insensitive lunkheads. Really? Just a few moments spent doing character development research they may have actually found that all military men are not greedy, uncaring, and stupid. [sidenote: this is one of the reasons why I heart Harvey from Celebrity Fit Club]
- It exotifies brown and black people. All of Na’vi have blue-black skin, are tall, muscular, beautiful and don African or Native American inspired hairstyles and outfits (okay loin clothes). Ya gotta love that the Sigourney Weaver’s character, Dr Grace Augustine, chose not to dress her avatar in traditional Na’vi clothes, but instead wore more covering American style gear which reads VERY old world missionary.
- It steals from every indigenous culture the writers/director ever came in contact with. I spent the whole film having flashbacks to tons of PBS, BBC and National Geographic documentaries I’ve seen over the years featuring the “cultures” of the world. It’s like James Cameron walked into a supermarket o’culture and said, “I’ll take one of these, and one of these, and one of these.” [side note: This is why I refuse to bungee jump. I saw a BBC special about a tribe’s rites of passage for their young men. A few years later, a commercialized version of their ritual appeared as bungee jumping at Six Flags.]
- Neytiri “rides b*tch” behind her man. Neytiri is a warrior. She trained HIM in their warrior ways. Yet, what happens at the end the film? She climbs behind Sully on the back of his dragon-like Toruk. Thankfully, she eventually does manage to find her inner warrior and mounts her own toruk. (Does that make her a ride or die chick?) If she weren’t barefoot in the film, I’m guessing she would have tripped in the forest while running in heels. [I hate the term riding bitch, but it seems only fitting to pair one stereotype with another.]
- The two lead male warriors in the film, die. The chief, Eytucan, and the heir to the throne, Tsu’tey, are killed in battle, leaving the women folk to carry on the Omaticaya civilization. (Didn’t see that one coming [wink]). If it were a horror movie, they’d have been dead in the first ten minutes, but, since it wasn’t, the martyr savage plot is applicable.
- BIG sigh: the John Smith-Pocahantas stereotype lives, again. Corporal Jake Sully falls in love with Neytiri and mates with her, even though she was happily betrothed to Tsu’tey. But it had to happen, right? I mean Harry Met Sally scientifically proved that men and women can’t be friends. And, besides, who can resist a hot animalistic Ebony chick?
- It implies that wheelchair bound people lead unfulfilled lives. Many people view the fictionalized Pandora as the ideal world. Everyone on Pandora is perfect. Yep, that’s the world I want to live in. A world where we are all alike.
I’m not alone in my sentiments. A friend sent me this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, “The Messiah Complex,” that criticizes Avatar. Thank Eywa. There is someone else out there who didn’t believe the hype.