Asked by Empire Magazine if James Cameron regretted spending so many years – nearly a quarter of a century – on a single story, the story of the Na’vi, the giant blue humanoid who lives by nature, the director gave a surprising answer: “The world of ‘Avatar’.” So sprawling that I can tell most of the stories I want to tell within it [Pandora]He went on to say: Secondly, yes. . . Our time as artists is limited. I will always grieve over some stories I won’t be able to make up. But I feel very comfortable when other directors want to explore some of my ideas.”
Back to the first part of this statement. Is Cameron really at peace with focusing the remainder of his career in the so-called Awkward World? Since the original “Avatar” was released in 2009, Cameron has filmed two sequels to it, including “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which opened in December and parts of the third movie, as well as developing two more sequels. Variety wrote, “It’s very likely that the 68-year-old Cameron will only direct Avatar films for the rest of his career. Not a problem for Cameron.”
He might be fine with that, but following accusations from indigenous people about cultural appropriation and harm from movies, right? No one asked for more “avatar”. Nobody except Cameron himself.
A lot has changed in the years since “Avatar”. The only thing that hasn’t changed is James Cameron.
The original “Avatar” movie tells the story of paraplegic Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). It’s the future. Earth’s resources are exhausted. Somehow, we’ve reached the year 2154, which already seems very unlikely, but it’s good. To replace his dead brother, Jake is sent on a mission to the moon Pandora, which greedy Earthfolk want to mine for optinium. there is a problem. Pandora is inhabited by “primitive” human beings who live in harmony with their natural world and don’t take kindly to outsiders. Jake infiltrates the group assuming an avatar that looks like them. This also allows him to move around without his wheelchair. But Jake falls in love with the Na’vi and their ways and one of them in particular.
Obviously, the original “Avatar” had some issues. The first is that it’s basically “Heart of Darkness” with Jake as the white savior. The other is that it stinks of ability. A lot has changed in the years since “Avatar”. The only thing that hasn’t changed is James Cameron.
Ronal (Kate Winslet), Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and the Metkayina clan in “Avatar: The Way Of Water.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)Avatar: The Way of Water takes place more than a decade after the first movie. Jake has a family with the Na’vi, but our ancient threat returns and he must lead the Na’vi to defeat their common enemy. The new film garnered lukewarm reviews, with most critics praising the visuals but lamenting the insignificant story and dialogue, and using their reviews as an opportunity for scathing creativity without sparing a pun. The Guardian called it “soggy” and “two”, calling it an expensive “screensaver”. The Los Angeles Times went with “The Look of Navy” while The Telegraph said that watching the film “feels like being waterboarded with turquoise cement.” This was a one star review, if you were wondering.
It’s a mixture of stolen things.
But the most damning criticism comes from indigenous people, with many calling for a blanket boycott of the film. Indigenous people, such as Navajo artist Yuè Begay, object to the film’s romantic view of colonialism and its sweeping generalizations about indigenous people. Stories and societies have been twisted and abused to create the Na’vi, which writer and filmmaker Jason Asenap describes as “a bizarre mixture of superficial nativeism signified by the white male’s perspective: long braids and braids affixed to bizarre bodies, corpses laden with bizarre ‘ta moko’ tattoos.”
Jack Champion as Spider-Man in Avatar: The Way Of Water. (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)It’s a jumble of stolen stuff, and Cameron didn’t help himself. In comments from 2010, which have now resurfaced, he told the Guardian he was inspired by the “plight” of Aboriginal people, saying: “This was a driving force for me in writing Avatar.”“ – I can’t help but think about it if they are [the Lakota Sioux] They had a window of time and could see into the future. . . And they can see their children commit suicide at one of the highest suicide rates in the country. . . Because they were desperate and it was a dead end society – which is what is happening now – they would have fought a lot.”
“James Cameron’s comments are completely inaccurate,” Reid Dawn Foster, South Dakota State Senator, told Native News Online. “He fell into the trap of seeing the Lakota as ‘ignorant savages.’” Mountain Chippewa (registrar), psychologist and assistant professor, He said, “Cameron’s generalizations about suicide are problematic and lack precision. The colonizer mentality we had in those circumstances that we are doomed is wrong, but for us, we passed on our knowledge and our stories when the snow was on the ground. It was a promise of survival.”
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When do such mischaracterizations, over-generalisation, and appropriations as Cameron become dangerous? Indigenous women already face two to three times higher rates of violence than women of any other race. The 2021 Hollywood Diversity Report found that original casting in film was just 0.6%. Meanwhile, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which was directed and co-written by a white man, has grossed over 1 billion globally. America especially loves easy stories, stories where the white man is the hero, where a disabled body is cured, and where the natives are witchcraft. But real people say these stories are harmful; They ask the masses to listen.
Nobody wants more Avatar movies. We pay for it in ticket prices and pay for it, in the long run, to harm actual people. It’s okay if you spend the rest of your life on Pandora, James Cameron. But we don’t have to go with you.
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