Avatar: Race, Gender, and Stereotypes

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Avatar: Race, Gender, and Stereotypes

Avatar uses a variety of film genres and styles. One of the styles is the Cowboys versus Indians theme. It is clear that Avatar is a product of post-colonialism: it shows the Na'vi as the relatively harmless yet environmentally respectful and spiritually in tuned indigenous population, while the humans are a corporate military whose only goal is mine the resources of Pandora. The film presents an anti-military narrative. The soldiers are portrayed as cruel, violent, and brainless brutes, with only mercenary intentions. They are the stereotype of the ultimate warrior. They perpetuate the “might is right” myth. All of them are males, except for a female helicopter pilot, who ultimately defects to the good side after rejecting violent action against the native population. Pandora’s indigenous society, the Na'vi, is clearly modeled in part on Native Americans (and interestingly, the Na’vi, despite computer generated characters, are performed and voiced by African and African-American actors and the features of the Na’vi are clearly African). Avatar, like most films about aliens, is a metaphor for contact between different human cultures. In this film the metaphor is conscious and precise: this is the story of European engagement with the native peoples of the Americas. Europe was massively enriched by the mass murders and ultimate colonization in the Americas. The Na’vi were here first and were connected to the land in a spiritual way. In Avatar they are physically attached to nature while the Native Americans where religiously attach in a non-physical way. But Na’vi like the Native Americans believed that the land was the mother to all living things. Avatar is a film that resembles a “revisionist western” in which the Indians become the good guys and the Americans the bad guys. The final epic battle is almost exactly like Custer’s last stand at Little Big Horn. The Na’vi bring together other tribes to mass for an attack...
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