Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Nature of Avatar by Paul Udstrand
So, whomever says there isn't intelligent conversation going on facebook is truly mistaken. Most of you have probably seen AVATAR by now either by 3D or IMAX. well i for personal reasons (if you can't figure it out, you don't know me very well! but if you have no clue here #BAGUA) won't be paying to see it.
My wife Nubia, went to go see it and i quote, "you would of walked out 20 min into the movie" (thats why i love her!) Everyone else tells me not to criticize it without seen it, but i am, not because i hate James Cameron, my issue lies on the portrayal of the blue people and the white messiah savior complex that oozes out of the movie.
Trust me, i am writing a poem about this with Guante. But in regards to the movie Well my fellow wordslinger Carter Meland posted this as a note on his facebook page. its a response to seeing the movie and it brings great questions. Now taking a page out of MIKE MYERS in "Coffee Talk" read and discuss!
Thanks to Paul for letting me repost this. you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
" One of the many really big ideas that Avatar bombs us with is the interconnectedness of nature. We’re all connected and our planet is a living thing. Of course this is too difficult to imagine here on earth so we have to go Pandora, and with the help of the Indians we find there we can learn our lesson. But what does Avatar really tell us about nature and this whole interconnectedness thing?
To begin with, despite their proximity to this nature we’re going to connect to, apparently the natives are helpless until a white guy comes along. They are incapable of recognizing the danger they face until the white guy warns them, but why? Well, they can’t comprehend the danger because they can’t comprehend the white man’s technology, that much is obvious. But how is it that the natives of this amazing neurally networked planet can be so helpless in the face of the white mans technology until a white guy shows up? Turns out it’s not just the white mans technology the native don’t comprehend… they don’t comprehend their own technology either, and that’s where nature comes in.
Here’s what Carlota said to me this morning: “We were talking about Avatar in the car pool, and I was talking about the history of Cameron waiting his whole life since he was a teenager for the technology to catch up to him, so he could make the movie. The problem is you can tell this story is the product of a teenage boys mind. Once they got the technology he should have found an adult to write a movie”. First, note, I’m not the only one thinking critically about Avatar. Carlota nails it. What happens when a teenage white boy confronts complex issues like indigenous sovereignty, spirituality, and sustainability? You get Avatar. One characteristic of the teenage boys mind is it tends to be rather concrete, not a lot of room for subtlety. The problem is, how do we connect with nature? Well, the indigenous answer is “we don’t have to, we ARE nature”. But remember this teenager is a white guy, so people stand outside of nature, which makes it necessary to connect with nature. So how do we make this connection? Well obviously we need an interface, like a USB connection. On Pandora we can interface with nature via our hair. So the way to understand nature is realize that it’s a technology like a computer. The reason the natives are so helpless is they don’t understand the technology at their disposal until the white comes along and shows them how to use it.
So is this promoting sensitivity and appreciation for the Indian world view? Is this an opportunity to learn about our connectedness to nature and appreciate natural diversity? On the contrary, it perpetuates the very colonialism it claims to be speaking against by re-stating the European notion that we stand outside nature, and that natives who live in nature just don’t get it. We come as liberators but some of us are assholes. The real treasure of Pandora isn’t “unobtainium”, it’s the power of nature, the technology at our feet, if the natives understood that they’d be invincible. Does treating nature like a technology enhance our appreciation of nature or does it reduce it to an underutilized tool? Does such a world view promote sustainability or confirm that natural resources are an untapped potential. Is the future of Pandora now to become a laboratory for white guys to understand the nature of neural nets? Is Pandora destined to be the big computer that will finally answer the big question of life, the universe and everything? Will the white man ever grow up? We can only hope these questions will be answered in the sequel".
written by Paul Udstrand