Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Viscous Cycle: Does Avatar Feed the Fuel of White Guilt in America?

(I promise this will be last Avatar related post.)

Recently, Annalee Newitz of Io9 wrote an article named "When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar".

"Critics have called alien epic Avatar a version of Dances With Wolves because it's about a white guy going native and becoming a great leader. But Avatar is just the latest SciFi rehash of an old white guilt fantasy. Whites need to stop remaking the white guilt story, which is a sneaky way of turning every story about people of color into a story about being white. Speaking as a white person, I don't need to hear more about my own racial experience. I'd like to watch some movies about people of color (ahem, aliens), from the perspective of that group, without injecting a random white (ahem, human) character to explain everything to me. Science fiction is exciting because it promises to show the world and the universe from perspectives radically unlike what we've seen before. But until white people stop making movies like Avatar, I fear that I'm doomed to see the same old story again and again. " - Newitz

Yes, there are a lot of white fantasy films because the majority of our country is white. Audiences are more likely to relate to their own race so Hollywood executives spend their time creating and promoting white stars. The vicious circle.

But is she missing the main problem?

I don’t think it’s appropriate to point the finger at the film-makers. It's hard believe it was a conscious choice by Cameron to pick a white lead to make a statement in the film. His film may comment on race but my interpretation of the film was a clear-cut message of environment vs. technology. Cameron is part of a system and he is using the system that is available to him.

20th Century Fox was about to allow Cameron to place a minority lead in a project this big. Of course, they’d let him use Denzel or Will Smith but neither of those actors really work for the part. There simply isn't enough minority stars to work with.

I think it’s appropriate to end a post about fighting racism with a nice little Avatar spoof battle between White Male Action Heroes and Animated  Creatures. Enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting post, thanks so much for sharing this post.