What’s Wrong with Avatar?
Part 2 of the Avatar franchise continues a thoroughly colonial “anti-colonial” narrative typical of today’s wokesphere, which ultimately paints colonialism and capitalism as part of nature like the lovingly portrayed native hunting scenes: just 2 species vying for survival.
“Earth being no longer habitable”, passingly mentioned, necessitates the expansion of the human empire, and the descent of war machines onto the paradisal primitive planet. But the systemic, capitalist and private-accumulation, reasons for the destruction of Earth’s biosphere is missing. Thus colonialism is portrayed as merely part of “the circle of life” (which is really “the circle of capitalism” where every living thing is exploited for profit until depletion, before moving onto the next virgin territory). The movie is fundamentally an expression of the dominant liberal environmentalist and eco-fascist view of humanity as a cancer (like all life forms are cancerous).
The all-important and epic distinction between war and tribal conflict is erased. War is conducted by professional soldiers for the accumulation of wealth and power for their masters and for the expansion of empire, while tribal conflicts are over direct survival; and between the 2 are extreme differences in terms of frequency, scale, etc. — all of this is omitted.
So the crucial dimension of class is buried, and systemic colonial war is conflated with nature. Thus the 2 sides here, colonisers and natives, are constructed as ultimately no different: they both feel emotion, they both feel love, and they both bravely fight for their own families and their own kind, only using different weapons, primitive or advanced.
Culturally, it is an image of liberal universality: the natives are all “bro!” and “sick!” all the time (with a couple of the teenage bullies from the Reef people depicted as Black American) . It is a world where the good guys are USAmerican, the bad guys are USAmerican, so when the good guys win, USAmerica wins.
And underneath the feel good moral surface which exoticizes, romanticizes, and patronizes, ironically in the IMAX 3D theater, a very flat 2D rendition of naive native culture in the worst ways, celebrates militarism, exalts brute physical violence, and propagates the same fascist ideology of might-is-right that saturates hegemonic liberalism.
An exhausting action and ideology packed 3 hours. Animation is dope though.