One of the most interesting aspects of the movie Avatar is the culture that makes it up. The Na’vi is an entirely made up and brand new culture with language, norms, relationships, religion, and beliefs. Western civilization tries to move in on their land and their ways, believing the Na’vi are savage and primordial who must be living in the past due to their lack of modern technology uses and spending their every day and night in nature.
The Na’vi have very close ties to their ancestors and believe that they themselves make up the land. Their life revolves greatly around nature, and it is significantly respected by the researchers who are using participation observation with them-living among their tribe and thoroughly studying their lives. It is very similar to anthropologists today who study diverse indigenous tribes and respected their beliefs regardless of the differences to their own society.
It is very important for the researchers in the movie, just as it is to anthropologists in reality, to spend a significant amount of time studying their culture. For example, when the military first decided to cut down “Eywa”, researchers knew, even without living among the Na’vi, how to crucial it was to their own society; Eywa is the divine “mother” that connects deceased and present living creatures. To them it meant cutting down a circulation of life. To understand new people is crucial before living with them because it can lead to non-acceptance and/or disrespect within the community. The Na’vi almost never let an outsider live with them-until they met Jake.
It is interesting, however, how much of an impact Avatar as a movie has had on modern society. The culture wars between the conservatives and progressives seemed to open the eyes of many that pushing beliefs into another civilization just won’t work, and in some cases like this, can be taken too far and become controversial. Personally, I enjoyed the strength of a woman expressed in the Na’vi...