Racism in Avatar? My Reponse to io9.
When you read a headline like “When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like ‘Avatar’?”, you know there’s going to be a definite bent to the story and a lot of opinion. Race is always touchy, no matter what you say, and opinions are something I generally give a lot of leeway too because people are entitled to them (IMHO.)
But this one stuck with me and, much as I wanted to just let it go, I can’t.
I preface this by saying this is entirely my opinion. I respect Annalee Newlitz over at io9. I think she’s a pretty sharp lady and a damn good writer.
Still, I have to say, on this one — I have to heartily disagree. She’s tagged the article as a #rant, but then uses the word “debate”. If you read through it, she’s not pondering IF Avatar is racist or not weighing both sides against the middle. She’s got her opinion and she’s giving evidence for it.
A white male made Avatar and you think that means something about race. If Spike Lee had made Avatar, there’s would be an entirely different set of theories about the racist nature of the movie.
Race is a tricky thing to talk about. Period. And when you come out and state that a movie like Avatar is some sort of “white guilt” thing, you’re going to get reactions. A headline like that is going to cause a reader to jump to the link — and, maybe that was intended.
Now, do I think racism occurs? Hell yes. Daily. Do I think it’s fair? No. If I had my way, people wouldn’t be judged by race, skin color, gender, sexual preference, weight, religious views and so many of the other things we find to dislike and separate ourselves from others for.
But do I think James Cameron made a racist movie?
James Cameron is a moviemaker who gives strong roles to women and hires multiple ethnicities. Look at his past. Look at the Terminator franchise. Look at Aliens. Look at The Abyss. Then look at Avatar. There’s a common thread. Technology vs. humanity. The Company vs. the little guy. Immersion into the alien life? Finding love along the way? All Cameron movie common themes.
If you’re going to call James Cameron a racist for Avatar, then are you going to to call him a racist against Jews for picking a white guy like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a heavy Austrian accent to be the downfall of the human race? Do we push the envelope and say Cameron thinks “aliens” are out to get us? That they want to “integrate” into our lives and destroy us from within?
Okay, okay, so I’m being deliberately hyperbolic to prove a point.
Let’s back up just a bit and look at this.
In the case of Avatar, he’s made a movie about corporations not caring about indigenous peoples, about someone being a leader and really cool effects.
Like he has numerous times before.
Annalee, with all due respect — you ask a question like “When will white people stop making movies like ‘Avatar’?” and I respond “When will people stop looking for a controversy in everything?”
Because there’s enough real racism and division in the world. And enough hyperbole already without adding more.