Two Golden Globes won’t change Avatar’s patronising and racist subtext

Will Heaven
London Telegraph
Monday, January 18th, 2010

Why has the world been so willingly taken in by James Cameron’s 250 million dollar con-trick? Avatar was extraordinary only because of its special effects. So congratulations should go to the geniuses at Digital Domain, the company responsible for producing them over the course of two years. Instead, last night the Golden Globes judges named Cameron “Best Director” and – mind-bogglingly – Avatar the “Best Drama”.

Cameron’s cringing acceptance speech highlighted the film’s real purpose. “This is best job in the world it really is,” he said. “Avatar asks us to see that everything is connected, all human beings to each other and us to the Earth.”

It’s a environmental parable, in other words, and a clumsy one at that. I’ve written at length about Avatar’s patronising and racist subtext: how the blue-skinned Na’vi, a pastiche of this planet’s “ethnic” races, are utterly powerless without the help of a principled white man. And how I was disgusted that the Na’vi – like the Africans in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness – demonstrate a “triumphant bestiality”. (Cameron is so obviously 2009’s worst lefty.)

What I have yet to hit home, however, is Avatar’s overall failure as a film.

View the original article at London Telegraph


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