Avatar just came off its fourth week on top of the box office, and a sore subject continues to overshadow its success. Ever since its release back in December the only thing that people can talk about are the racist undertones the story puts on display. A story that most of us see as a blatant rip-off of several war films from the past.
According to an article from The Herald, the problem most people have with the film is the concept of a white male entering into a world of ethnic people, with the sole intent of using them for his own personal gain. Anyone with eyes can see that this premise wreaks of too many movies to count, Dances With Wolves being the most evident, but Avatar‘s draw isn’t its story. The film’s marketing campaign emphasizes the visuals, and how director James Cameron‘s vision is history in the making.
Speaking of Cameron, all of the casting done in the film had his seal of approval, so he’s come under attack for using actors of color to portray the Na’vi people, while white Australian Sam Worthington stars as the cultural infiltrator. Annalee Newitz, editor-in-chief of the sci-fi Web site io9.com said,
“Main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color … (then) go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed,” she wrote. When will whites stop making these movies and start thinking about race in a new way?” wrote Newitz, who is white.
Cameron has said on more than one occasion that Avatar is meant to encourage people to respect each others cultures and differences, and while that may be the case, he still fell into a familiar trap. Regardless if it was intentional or not there are some obvious racial undertones in the film, and you can’t ignore them no matter how pretty you paint the picture. The reason people are getting so upset is because they know this story all too well, and are sick of seeing it onscreen.