Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Now Avatar...That Sure Is Racist

Posted on January 13, 2010 at 3:15 PM

Note the sarcasm in the title, please.

Article: Some See Racist Theme in Avatar



I jump around at the IGN boards quite a bit. One being I've been a board member for nearly ten years, the other being I'm a mod so kind of have to. A user recently posted a link to the above article which goes into detail on people claiming Avatar is racist.


These people are idiots.


People who find racism in everything, such as this, are those that look desperately hard for it. The idea of Avatar being racist probably hasn't crossed the mind of a majority of people who have seen it (which is everyone, by all accounts). I personally think that speaks more, especially in terms of our society, than anything and those looking to incite a movement are those looking for attention, not because they actually believe the film is racist.


The argument is as follows (as it was for other films, such as Dances With Wolves, A Man Called Horse, The Last Samurai etc...) is that the native peoples are so clueless and directionless that a white man (Jake Sully) has to come in and help them. It really boils down to the main character being white, if anything, and the "noble savage" mythos being reinforced.


Yes, the Na'vi are noble savages.


Yes, Jake Sully is white.


No, this is not racist.


If you want to make this a race issue, fine. Even though it's not deragatory or demeaning, if anything it celebrates them (they do win, afterall) nor is it telling you how wrong they are in their ways. Even though the Na'vi's ways win out, or the fact Neytiri is the one that defeats the big bad Colonel and saves Jake (not the other way around), go ahead. Call it racist. You're also an idiot.


If anything, Avatar is almost a letter of apology, as it focuses on understanding new peoples and the regrets past racial relationships have created amongst those that exploited them (mainly whites).


You can make anything racial, such as the man who stood up at a town convention and demanded an apology for having the term "black hole" used. Or people upset that Jar Jar Binks is a caricature of black stereotypes (personally, those that say that are the ones that thought of it first, not me or the millions that had seen the movie). If you want blatantly racist, go see Transformers 2. You'll probably feel as uncomfortable when Wheelie and Skids come on the screen as everyone else is (note, voiced by a white man, written by white men, I might that is racist because that was obviously intentional)


The question here is, is something racist or is it only racist when someone points it out and claims it as racist? I think we all know when something is blatantly racist and when it's not, and people are far smarter and more in tune with that than given credit. I also sincerely doubt that Cameron went out to make a racist picture.


It's about race, it's not racism. You couldn't have this story if you didn't have people of different races (or, in this case, species). You couldn't have a lot of films without that element, even on smaller scales like Save the Last Dance or Finding Forrester where two opposites from different socio-economical backgrounds find they assume too much, and learn a great deal from each other and about each other's demographics.


I suppose it comes down to the fact that just because you have a movie with different races doesn't automatically mean it's racist. No matter how much those seeking attention will want it to be, most likely they just want the attention they seek and the fodder for their blogs and websites. Don't buy into them, and enjoy a movie that, honestly, shouldn't have you thinking so deeply in the first place.

Signing Off


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1 Comment

Reply toosmartforbond2
8:31 AM on April 28, 2010 
Hey, Resident Evil 5 is racist because ... um ... you kill ... infected black people ... in Africa? So, like, it's racist, because Africa isn't like all black people or something.

Also, kill all haitians.

The same bullshit persecution video games receive for "violence" and inspiring bad behavior is spread around a lot. Apparently people can't take anything at face value and are unwilling to accept allegory or subtext if it can be twisted to construe their viewpoint against it.