In the midst of researching this post, I came across news that AVATAR director James Cameron will host a screening of the film at the UN on Saturday, to coincide with an annual meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Color me perplexed. I, for one, though Lawyers, Guns, and Money blogger SEK was onto something when he described the film thusly:
“Its fundamental narrative logic is racist: it transposes the cultural politics of Westerns (in which the Native Americans are animists who belong to a more primitive race) onto an interplanetary conflict and then assuages the white guilt that accompanies acts of racial and cultural genocide by having a white man save the noble savages (who are also racists).” He wonders why “there is no possibility for peaceful coexistence” presented in the film.
Well, you know who apparently disagrees with SEK and I? ‘Many indigenous people worldwide’ — particularly in Latin America. This from the UN’s press release for this weekend’s AVATAR screening:
The AVATAR movie has been embraced by many indigenous peoples worldwide, who see it as echoing their own story. Throughout Latin America for example, indigenous peoples have highlighted the parallels between the movie and their own experiences dealing with private sector extractive industries and the development of mega projects on their lands.
With messages of conservation at its heart, AVATAR dramatically demonstrates how human invasion almost destroys the indigenous population’s way of life on the planet of Pandora. The indigenous population of Pandora – the Na’vi – fights to save their forest and their traditional way of life.
The event includes a Q and A with Cameron after the screening. If any readers end up attending, let me know how it goes.