Sunday, January 31, 2010

Avatar Review (spoilers; sort of!)

So, I saw Avatar today. In 3D. It was beautiful. It was touching. It was thrilling. It was a lot of things. As an English major, an academic, whatever it is that I am; I can't just watch a movie, enjoy it and let it go at that. Analysis is part of the deal, when you deal with me, so like it or not here I go. First off, I did enjoy the movie and completely lost myself for three hours (and it doesn't really seem like it is three hours, just like everyone says) in the beauty of the work and the story itself. But I firmly believe that art is here for many more reasons than just escapism. It defines culture, it creates culture. The fact that Disney has finally created an African American princess is important! Yes Avatar is the same old story, that story that has been told and will be told as long as human beings are in existence. The story of creation, of one true love, of evil v. good, the hero gets the girl, the bad guys lose etc, etc, etc. How we are represented in this oft told tale says a lot about who we are at the time of creation and who we will be in the future. Avatar does a wonderful job of telling this story but does a pretty simplistic representation of the conquerors and the indigenous peoples. In the past, and unfortunately to this day, the hero in this story is usually white, able bodied, heterosexual and male. Oh sure, we got Sigourney Weaver in Alien. Or Denzel Washington, or Jimmy Smits as president, but more often than not, it's a white male. Avatar's hero is a white male in a wheelchair. Huzzah! But he doesn't stay that way. He becomes an indigenous person, through ways I won't explain. Not only does he become one of them, he no longer needs a wheelchair. He spends the whole movie thrillingly out of the chair or being told his reward will be to get out of his chair. Why? Why does the happy ending have to involve him becoming able bodied? Why does it involve him becoming an indigenous person? Why can't our hero stay a white male in a wheelchair? She loved him. She saw HIM. I'm not sure why this upsets me so much, but it does. Maybe because I see too many people who think that they have to change who they are to make the world a better place. They have to fit some norm to be the hero. It's just not true. Heroes are made of those who take risks, of those who work and of those that aren't necessarily perfect people. We've gotten better. We need to get even better still. Go see Avatar. It's an amazing movie and I'd love to hear what you think


  1. Yes !! Why? But then the fact that you are asking why is a start.

  2. Dude-you have four followers! Nice post.

  3. It was a great film. I mostly enjoyed the 3D effects, I haven't seen anything quite like that.