Before a bunch of fanboys/girls come raging down the aisles, lemme just say that I liked Avatar. Yes, it was good. It was downright beautiful to watch. (Even on fake IMAX. Damn you, AMC.)
I am usually very ambivalent toward such cookie-cutter epic stories and reincarnations of the hero’s journey archetype. I’m not anti-hero’s journey, I just roll my eyes at the predictability sometimes. After a while, don’t you just get tired of all the savage-civilized love affairs?
Whether Avatar is racist is a matter for debate. Regardless of where you come down on that question, it’s undeniable that the film – like alien apartheid flick District 9, released earlier this year – is emphatically a fantasy about race. Specifically, it’s a fantasy about race told from the point of view of white people. Avatar and scifi films like it give us the opportunity to answer the question: What do white people fantasize about when they fantasize about racial identity?
Personally, my take on films like Avatar and District 9 and even The Princess and the Frog is that they are race-based, not racist. It’s a very different situation to be outright oppressing a group based on unchangeable characteristics as opposed to simply displaying cultural differences.
But oh well, I would like to take a walk throughout a real-life Avatar environment. And want to touch those christmas tree worm plant things. And say hello to the hammerhead butterfly rhinoceri. I do believe that even a gargantuan blue Zoe Saldana is an awesome Zoe Saldana. I thought she did a great accent for having only been in somewhat superficial (but fun!) movies before. When she flicked at Sam Worthington? Go, girl!
At the end, I almost screamed, “Dammit, Cameron, did you choose Celine Dion again??” Oh, Leona. You got me there.