So this morning I shook my head in amazement at the article in the NY Times: You Saw What in ‘Avatar’? Pass Those Glasses! Wow, activists have to find anything these days to protest, don’t they? Or as the author in this article says, many groups have just jumped onto the bandwagon to “project their issues” onto Avatar, from feminists to the Vatican to the Editor in Chief of io9.com, Ms. Newitz, who calls Avatar “the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare.” What!?
It’s a film, people, and yes it may echo popular themes and politics and social evolution, but it doesn’t mean that everyone has to jump on a bandwagon protesting ridiculous things like whether the male Na’vi are bigger than female Na’vi or whether someone is smoking a cigarette. One, take a look at your human male friends – for the most part, they are “stronger and more muscular than their female counterparts.” And two, guess what happens to the scientist smoking the cigarette – um, she dies.
As for the Vatican freaking out about a fictional alien species that deify the spirit of the earth (Eywa), come on! “It gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature?” Really? I just saw it as a message – protect the earth’s amazing ecology, it sustains humanity. But I’m not going to go light a candle and hope that a Seed of Eywa drops on top of me! Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within talk about a similar earth spirit, Gaia. It’s not new, and it’s not going to make people stop going to church. I think I need to insert the definition of the word fiction (yes, click on it). I’m betting that the Vatican were pretty pissed about Philip Pullman’s, The Golden Compass and the evil, controlling Magisterium, and to make things even more convoluted, those people had their “daemon” souls *gasp* on the outside of their bodies!
To Ms. Newitz, who also wrote, “humans are the cause of alien oppression and distress,” until a white man “switches side at the last minute [….] becoming it’s savior.” Hello! In almost any sci-fi or fantasy film, there’s always going to be an oppressor or a hero. It’s what makes people connect with movies – the age-old theme of good versus evil. Why does it have to be a “white” issue??? It’s a capitalist issue. It’s a greed issue. It’s a human issue. Get over the white guilt garbage.
The article also comments on claims that Avatar copied story plot/elements from other movies. Well, duh. In entertainment, almost everything has been done before! Just because there’s a scene in Fern Gully with the bulldozer’s killing the fairies’ forest, it doesn’t mean that James Cameron copied that film. I could name five films right now that have similar elements from other movies.
Anyway I’ll get off my soapbox now. I just get aggravated when people can’t just make connections and take the good out of something, as opposed to finding every possible negative thing and just ripping something down. Does Avatar have themes that parallel social/cultural phenomenon? Of course, it does. It has to for its viewers to connect with it, whether it’s something as simple as a romantic theme or as complex as an “imperialist” metaphor. Everything is left wide open to human interpretation, mine included. So I guess if someone wants to get pissed off about the male avatars having more muscles, well to each his own.
I’m gonna start my own issue that none of the Na’vi are over-weight. They are all anorexic. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.