Ed Team

The blatant lesson of Avatar

Filed By Ed Team | January 09, 2010 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Quote of the Day
Tags: Avatar, imperialism, Lauren Bans

"The more blatant lesson of Avatar is not that American imperialism is bad, but that in fact it's necessary. Sure there are some bad Americans--the ones with tanks ready to mercilessly kill the Na'vi population, but Jake is set up as the real embodiment of the American spirit. He learns Na'vi fighting tactics better than the Na'vi themselves, he takes the King's daughter for his own, he becomes the only Na'vi warrior in centuries to tame this wild dragon bird thing. Even in someone else's society the American is the chosen one. He's going to come in, lead your army, fuck your princesses, and just generally save the day for you. Got it? This is how we do it."

-- from Lauren Bans's recent review of Avatar, "In Which We Teach James Cameron A Thing Or Two," for This Recording. (Hat tip to Art)

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That's how it works in the movies. Ban's argument might call it "American imperialism" but doesn't completely address the extent of our white American racism and ethnocentricity.

In real life, if history is any indication, we also enslave the Na'vi, let their physical labor build an economy that we claim as entirely our own while relegating the Na'vi largely to inner city ghettos (unless they can sing, dance, or play good basketball), steal the land from them, squeeze them into tiny reservations, and ravage the economic aspects of their family life and the religious/spiritual parts of their culture until the inevitable end result occurs, they finally produce generations that tend to be illiterate and alcoholic. Then our academic liberals cherry-pick from what cultural remains can be pieced together and call it "folk art" while our conservatives label them as lazy, culturally/genetically inferior, and undeserving of social services.

Of course, the white race is superior because, of all the human population groupings on the globe, we happened to be the ones that moved into the cold regions. This in turn, caused us to become familiar with all the technologies based on fire: bronze, iron, steel, chemistry, glass-making, and the ultimate technology from a imperialism perspective, gun powder and the guns that use it.

So all you uppity white folks who are freezing your balls off during this frigid winter week in January, know that the chilling temps outside motivated your race into becoming what it is today: superior to the rest of humanity, no matter what measuring stick you use. And of course, your face and buns both are lily white because you are genetically superior by Divine selection: it has nothing to do with anything as mundane as the amount of sunlight your body needs in order to produce Vitamin D. (Luckily, the Lord in His Wisdom did not change the exposed areas of your skin white, while leaving your butt, breasts, and bikini lines as black as Wesley Snipes.)

Now, am I a self-hating white liberal, or what? Apparently so is Lauren Ban, but for some reason, she just didn't feel like her movie review required her to go the full distance. I disagree.

This movie was not about imperialism. Imperialism is attempting to take over a country and use it for you own means. It's not about ignoring/killing the natives whilst you yourself exploit their land. That's could "colonising".

The colonists of the Americas didn't take over the native tribes, although they may have occasionally fucked their princesses, and lead them to victory. No they killed them both intentionally and through neglect.

And they still do today in parts of the world where uncontacted and isolated tribes still struggle on. Loggers, miners and farmers are still killing people and destroying their "home trees". Just check out http://www.survivalinternational.org/ for more on that.

Lauren Ban's comments are naive and quite disturbing given the situation of native populations right now. They are even more disturbing if you take them in the context of the history of the United States and it interactions with native populations there. I'd say they are actually quite disgusting when you think about it.

ShipofFools | January 27, 2010 8:11 PM

I haven't seen Avatar yet, but from the plot it seems to me like a remake of Dances with Woolves or The Last Samurai.